The Call of Nature at Avoca River Cabins

If you’re planning on road tripping to the Eastern Cape, know that you’ll be in a town amid nature whether you’re a nature lover or not.

Addo Elephant National Park is one of the main tourist attractions all year round and finding suitable accommodations that are budget-friendly can be a bit of a challenge.

Searching for more than a week on various sites, I came across Avoca River Cabins situated in a quaint citrus town in Kirkwood only 20 minutes away from the Park. Did you know that Kirkwood is a serious agricultural valley and is considered the citrus capital? The views, however, are evident from the drive through the town.

Engrossed in the heat of the moment, we pulled up to the much-anticipated stay; more so for me. Slow cruising onto the cobblestones towards the reception, my name is written big on the blackboard greeting us to our stay but surrounding the car was a beautiful pitch black Labrador.

“I’m not getting out”, Courtney said while the car still idled.

Opening the door, he came up to me while Richard, our host walked out of his office.

“He won’t bite. He’s a loving dog but do come in”.

Stepping into his much tidy and well-organized reception, Richard introduced himself and welcomed us onto the property; giving us rules and guidelines to the place. Handing me the keys, I got into the car driving less than a mile to park.

Leaving Courtney behind in the vehicle, I followed the path to our cabin nestled between lush green bushes; hearing birds chirp and crickets crick.

The Cabin

We stayed in Gymnogene, a private self-catering chalet that overlooks Avoca river. Standing on the balcony, we opened up the place and it smelled like citrus; reminding us that this is a farm.

Opening the curtains and windows, Courtney immediately noticed that there was no television in the room.

“Where’s the TV, Stephanie?” Laughing at the tone in which he said that. I responded,

“I’m sure I read on the website that there’ll be one but what does it matter?” All I got was the silent treatment.

Since the walkway from our over exhausted car to the chalet was an upward hill, Courtney insisted we take everything out because he refuses to make this journey twice. I glared at him but obliged; carrying all our belongings on my two weak arms and hands. Men, I tell you!

Dropping all our baggage on the floor, we had to get the fire going. In an instant, I asked what is that; pointing to the top of the patio roof. A huge rain spider came to welcome us in a surprising visit. Then all hell broke loose. Courtney got a rolled up newspaper in one hand, my sandal resting in his back pocket and a bottle of Raid on the other hand. He wasn’t taking any chances so he sprayed the Raid at it; making it ran away. (Please note that we didn’t spray directly at any insects) But just when we thought that was it, we were wrong.

Just above the braai area was a nest. Upon getting the wood and coals ready for the braai, Courtney looked up.

“I can’t take this anymore, Stephanie”, showing me what he meant.

A hive rested just above his head with three wasps flying around it.  With the sun going down, he had to act fast. By fast, he sprayed the Raid at them too – How none of these insects didn’t come back to take their revenge on him is a miracle.

A few minutes of preparing supper, out of nowhere a chubby, brown cat sat by our sliding door staring directly into our room; giving Courtney a near death heart-attack. He just couldn’t bear the nature life anymore. Oh well, I guess surprises will be knocking at our door from now on.

Even without the television, Avoca is the perfect place for nature wanderers who love having lizards run along the balcony and various birdlife fly across your view of the river; staring out across the wine farm. The chalet is ideal for a private getaway facilitating your every need for your stay. It housed a comfortable bed, a small kitchen area to prep your meals, an l-shaped couch for those lazy sunny naps and a well-functioning bathroom.

Seriously, what more do you need? Oh yes, the outdoor shower which we definitely not utilizing.

Night time was rough. Courtney refused to go sleep; thinking that spiders and creepy crawlers were planning to come into our room. Saying it was hell is pretty much an understatement. He closed the bathroom door, had the Raid on standby and watched movies all night long on my laptop.

How’s that for preparation when we one day have kids?

The next morning, I woke up bright and early since the excitement of us exploring Addo Park was high. Coming back from our adventure, Mr. Whiskers (the name Courtney had given the cat) was waiting for us; baking in the sun on the balcony. However, with the heat that warm, we decided to put on our bathing suits and head up to the main pool area on the property.

I sat on the lounge chair while Courtney decided to dangle his feet in the semi-warm pool.

Nope. His thoroughly in the pool now. Feet all up in the air.

The Labrador paid no more attention to us; laying on the hot baking sun.

Who owns this piece of heaven because I certainly can’t come to terms with leaving this place in the morning. Two nights really went by too fast!

Dave and Judy Smith, of course! They had this place for years and it has grown to one of the top accommodation resorts to relax at. Might I mention that it is indeed a working citrus farm surrounding the place with sweet smells?

It’s more than just paradise. It’s a nature escape.

I can’t wait to come back, I said as I pack my bag.

“I’m not up for the insects”, said Courtney.

Travel Tips

Getting there: Either you drive your own vehicle or hire a car. You cannot miss the scenic road!

When to go: You can visit all year-round but do note that most of the resorts around the Addo Park book very fast so plan in advance.

Value for money: Most definitely. For the chalet we stayed at, it cost R700.00 per night. However, I saw that prices have gone up slightly. View the listings of accommodations on the property here.

Activities at Avoca: There are a number of things to do on the property alone. There are two swimming pool areas. You can canoe and kayak down the Avoca River, a well-maintained play area for the kids, go bird-watching and many other activities to do nearby.

Websites to visit: Avoca River Cabins website provides you with all the information you need and you can book directly with them.

Until the next adventure.

Stephanie Marthinus Blog