What is it about a place that sets all our senses on heightened alert, infusing us with that wonderful feeling of unbounded elation? Could it be discovered nestling within ambrosial aromas, awe inspiring sights, or is it, perhaps, to be found amongst those mind-enhancing novel experiences? Moreover, would it not, more likely, be detected in a single, enigmatic moment? A moment which resonates at some deeper, undefined level?
Magaliesburg holds the key. Its ancient mountain range, one of the oldest on earth, would certainly be the sacred keeper of secrets to the unfettered allure of Magalies. Upon its rocky heights our prehistoric forefathers once stood. Its views are where they gazed, a visual experience that is predominately rugged African plains, framed by a blue-grey mountain range. The innumerable game reserves surrounding the small South African town, an hour’s drive north-west of Johannesburg, provide a sense of unchartered anticipation . . . and fleeting thoughts of what might reside beyond the game fence: hartebeest, wildebeest, giraffe, elephant, jackals or some species of zebra.
Staying overnight at one of the many venues in the area delivers an extra treat. It gifts us time; time to see, time to explore and time to immerse ourselves in what Magaliesburg has to offer. We stayed at Olive Tree Farm, and it was here that I was able to let go, and drift into the full-bodied sense of abandonment that this tiny portion of Africa engenders. The thatched accommodation was beautifully furnished, and everything down to the smallest detail had been considered, with the full intention of making our stay there sumptuous and totally relaxing. The continental breakfast was out of this world – from fresh fruit to crispy croissants, with eggs boiled to suit. And the setting was magnificent.
Two memorable moments transpired, which transported me into the bliss of absolute being. The first was the simplicity of witnessing the warm glow from the golden, red, vibrant colours of the “big-sky” African sunset, as the sun descended rapidly behind the mountain range. This soul enhancing experience was heightened by a chorus of crickets, filling the night air with their distinctive African sound, magnified within the surrounding stillness. Occasionally the chorus was accompanied by a jackal’s unnerving call. This mesmerising display held me enthralled. Within a rapidly short timeframe the view was replenished by the infinitive dark clarity of the night sky with its assembled twinkling spectacle of the distant stars. The icing on the cake was a shooting star, hurtling dramatically across the clear night sky. I went to sleep dreaming of connections through the ages.
The following day, after a breakfast delivered as if by magic onto our balcony, we set off to explore the farm. Armed with walking sticks, we followed the directions provided by the attentive, yet discrete owners, Jeanette and Tom. Keeping an eye open for the wild animals and snakes which inhabit this area, we were soon rewarded by the sight of a large herd of wildebeest grazing on the side of the valley. We were obviously making a racket, because they froze, with only their ears and tails twitching, confirming that they were aware of us. Following a breathless incline, we arrived at our destination, a thatch-covered boma, the only evidence of humanity, overhanging a valley. There we were presented with a soul twanging sight. Below us grazed two giraffe, a herd of zebra, eland and hartebeest, oblivious to our presence. As luck would have it, the wind was blowing in our direction, preventing our sounds and smells from reaching the keen senses of the grazing animals. Armed with binoculars, a flask of coffee and a packet of rusks, we experienced our second memorable moment in less than 24 hours – a record certainly.
Other days found us venturing out to explore this gem of a place. We visited Ascari Lodge, where we witnessed two delightful male elephants dusting their bodies with sand and playing. We soaked up their antics while sipping drinks on the veranda. Then we spoilt ourselves with afternoon high tea at the colonial hotel Mount Grace. We enjoyed an exquisite dinner at the Black Horse restaurant, now occupying the previous Arabic horse stables. Following this visceral connection with our forbearers, we visited Maropeng, the cradle of humankind World Heritage centre. All this time the warm sun shone down upon us from the deepest blue African sky.
The simplest experiences seemed to resonate the most. Reminiscing about Magaliesburg invariably conjures up sensations of an ageless, uplifting and unfettered expansiveness that draws fully on all six senses. A place which holds this power to trespass so deeply on our emotions, despite not being physically present, is certainly a place to treasure for keeps.
About the Author: Claire Madgwick is a wacky 40 something homeschooling Mom of two children, one husband & two Labradoodles. Lives in the big smoke but has yearnings of one day moving to the country and becoming self sufficient. I write mainly about homeschooling, travelling & Labradoodles – my 3 passions. Follow Claire on Google+