Maybe it’s the milkwood trees, crouched low and spread wide, creating natural boom gates to a natural world where birds rule the roost and a river brings life from beyond the Klein River Mountains in Stanford. Or maybe it’s the perfect stillness that blankets the area. Whatever it is, the village of Stanford in the Western Cape has a certain magical charm even in the dying days of summer and the dawning of autumn.
It’s reputed to be a village where old folks go to see out the rest of their days, and while away the time and watch the world go by – but this would be a gross misrepresentation of the area.
The truth is it is a place for living and breathing fresh air, for long walks and shorts sprints in canoes and kayaks. It is a place where those who know where to look come to feel alive again.
MOSAIC LAGOON LODGE
Take for example the Mosaic Private Sanctuary, which has become the focal point of the Klein River Estuary, a majestic body of water protected by private nature reserves.
Mosaic Lagoon Lodge is the perfect seat from which to watch nature’s thespians in action.
The Klein Rivier Mountains are the ideal backdrop, and the lush green grass in the foreground create a three-dimensional stage for the main actors, the birds to steal the show. Reed Cormorants, Greater Flamingos, Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilts and Cape Shovellers, they’ve all come to play their part in this work of art.
The lodge itself is an ideal combination of luxury and authenticity. There are five suites hidden between the milkwood trees – perfect for a romantic rendezvous, socially-distance holiday or family break. You’d be forgiven for thinking you’re deep in the Kruger National Park, the safari-style rooms will trick you that way.
There are outdoor showers and stone bathrooms, the smell of thatch and burning fireplaces, all very nostalgic of the bush. But step outside and you are back in the wrap of the Western Cape warmth, with towering mountains before you and flamingos in the vlei.
Guests have access to a myriad of activities that include beach, water and land adventures. Enjoy a guided walk and quad-bike tours around the wetlands or a 4×4 excursion to Walker Bay Nature Reserve. SUP’s, kayaks, Fat Bikes and Mountain Bikes are available to explore the scenery.
New owner Maryke De Villiers took over Mosaic Lagoon Lodge from previous owners Breese and Kathryn Johnson in 2019, after having worked for the company before. “I was with Mosaic for seven years as the external accountant, so I knew the property very well. It was unfortunate timing but I call it my baptism of fire. After this (pandemic) I doubt we will ever be dealt something this bad ever again.”
Over the years it was transformed from a tented camp to what it is now, a five-star lodge with a quality menu and amenities to match.
“It’s intimate, it’s small and out guests like it this way. There are not a lot of these types of places in the Western Cape,” De Villiers says.
The lasting effects of the pandemic on the tourism industry are likely to be felt for years to come but De Villiers believes things will bounce back quicker than expected. She says locals have bailed out the lodge with their loyal support.
“In a sense Covid played into my hands because South Africa is all we had and everybody had to market locally, and it turned out very well. We have been so well supported by the South African market. Obviously we want our international guests back too,” De Villiers says.
Mosaic Lagoon Lodge has a special rate for South African residents right now: All-inclusive: R3200 pp sharing per night (until 31 July 2021), includes all meals, welcome drink, house beverages/wine/beer/spirits, Mosaic activities, wireless internet, wine tasting at either Springfontein or Raka Wine Estate and a choice of spa treatment (Kalahari Manicure/Kalahari Pedicure/Kalahari Neck & Back Massage).
LADY STANFORD RIVER CRUISE
No visit to Stanford is complete without cruising on the Klein River. Known as the one of the shortest rivers in the world, from source to mouth, the river meanders in front of the beautiful Klein River Mountains.
With Lady Stanford is your mode of transport, you can take enjoy the curious birdlife, canoeists in training and Bontebok lazing near the banks of the river, though the highlight of the trip will surely be spotting the fish eagles who reside in the area.
Your guide will tell you all about the people and wildlife that live along the banks of the Klein River and why some of them never leave. Whether it’s a birthday party or team building, the river cruise is the most relaxing way to spend an afternoon in Stanford.
HIKING AND MOUNTAIN BIKING
Stanford was named after Captain Robert Stanford and was established in 1856. Stanford resigned from the British army at the age of 32, retired on half-pay and immigrated to the Cape Colony Stanford with his wife.
Stanford fell in love with the land, and was an enthusiastic farmer who soon bought up seven farms in the area. The pristine nature reserves in the Stanford area are a hiker’s dream, and a mountain biker’s playground. Visitors can find any number of trails and tracks to explore.
Walker Bay and Hermanus, just around the corner from Stanford, are world famous for being the best locations to watch whales from land. Whale traffic reaches its peak between August and December. During peak holiday periods Hermanus can get a bit crowded so if you feel like staying away from the crowds, booking into Stanford and traveling during the day may be a more peaceful option. You’ll be rewarded with the sight of Southern Right Whales migrating up the coastline to settled down for a few months to mate and procreate.
If you’re in the mood for something a little more fast paced and thrilling, be certain to go quad biking at Mosaic Lagoon Lodge. You can try a sun set ride to explore the fynbos. You can ride along the lagoon, or find the high points to get a 360 degree view of your surroundings, while watching the sun set. It’s a must-do, especially if you have kids who are a bit on the adventurous side.
What better way to experience the Hermanus Lagoon than kayaking. You can get up close to the hundreds of bird species, if they let you. Or just drift along and let water guide you while you feel at one with nature, away from the noise of the world around you. Kayaking excursions are available from Mosaic at sunrise and sunset to get the best possible experience on the lagoon, and if you’re feeling adventurous you can try going on the open water, where you may just encounter a whale or two.