Graceland Eco Retreat – a haven in the mountains

MAGOEBASKLOOF –  Anders Ragnarsson, who left his native Sweden in 1999, and his South African partner, Douglas Walker, bought this 85 hectare retreat in 2014 and have turned it into a paradise with a view.

A view of the Kudu River Valley view with a giraffe completing the picture.

Only one original wall remains. Anders and Douglas built thatched-roofed self-contained chalets known as the Main House and Kudu Chalet.

A bird’s eye view of the Main House and Kudu Chalet, nestling serenely in a grove of trees.

They are tastefully appointed with clean lines and scatterings of interesting artworks and wooden carvings. Graceland can sleep 12 people. In between are bamboo-covered pergolas, verandahs, an open-air shower, a pizza oven and a braai area. Bougainvilleas will be trained to climb the recently-completed pergolas. Otherwise the farm consists of indigenous flora such as aloes, cacti and succulents. The representative of the Chief of Mamabolo said that Graceland, as part of the community, was welcome to any of their indigenous plants to beautify the farm. Anders and Douglas also get on well with neighbouring tomato and avocado farming giant ZZ2. Graceland is off the grid with solar power, geysers or batteries for the little round white candles in the bedrooms.

Graceland was so named before Anders and Douglas bought the retreat. In keeping with the theme their five giraffes are named Elvis, Lisa Marie, Priscilla, Memphis (born last year) and Tennessee (born this year). The giraffes love to chomp on the many acacia trees at Graceland. There are also about 40 impala, 14 kudu and a troop of baboons.

The breathtaking view of the Kudu River valley, from Graceland.

On the domestic front Anders and Douglas have six gingers. Three ginger cats are named Hermes, Dolce and Gabbana and the three ginger cocker spaniels are Gucci, Prada and Chanel. The vets in Polokwane call Chanel, Miss Coco Chanel.

The couple is building two more units away from the others and closer to the main gate. The two units, called Pangolin and Impala, will incorporate Anders’s office and the entire structure is called Serapana. This is a Sepedi expression meaning a garden on the outside, where people can eat and relax. Serapana was built where the game accumulate. A pergola, at the side of Serapana, captures the Kudu River Valley view as well as the game. It is hard to build at Graceland as no one wanted to bring bricks to this off-the-beaten track place and the couple, with minimum staff, did the building themselves.

The pizza oven, the braai area and the seating around the guest houses offer sufficient catering facilities.

The hiking trails have been planned according to the animals’ trails. Once Serapana, with its gardens is complete, the rocky and only 4×4 drive down the dirt road from Serapana to the Main House and Kudu Chalet will be addressed. It will be a major undertaking. Also on the cards is the conversion of an existing shed in the dining area. Most guests want meals prepared for them as opposed to self-catering. Anders, in this regard, is an excellent cook, having come from a family who love cooking.

Dinner with the couple consisted of a roast butternut soup, followed by Thai fishcakes served on a warm creamy potato salad, capers, roast fennel and apples with fried prawns in lemon butter and chilli. Dessert was a lemon cheese cake on a ginger biscuit with blueberry and strawberry coulis. Graceland is indeed a wonderful retreat as well as a treat for the senses.

For more information visit their website on gracelandeco.co.za  or contact them on +27 (0) 83 277 5553 or [email protected]

 

 

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  AUTHOR
Sue Ettmayr

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Graceland Eco Retreat – a haven in the mountains