Phefumula Country Retreat. A warm birthday destination.

Up at 06h00, and already out and about watching the the sun starting to light up the Magaliesberg




I have to start by saying that Google maps were NOT my friend as my wife and I struggled to find this retreat. I was first taken to an ESKOM training centre outside of Magaliesberg and on phoning Jenni, who together with her partner Dave owns the property, gave me clear directions as to how to reach Phefumula (which means ‘to breathe’ in isiZulu)

Suffice to say that my wife and I drove several km’s of the R40 in search of THIS sign that was somewhat hidden behind the wall of a chicken farm. It seems that the roads agency does not like unofficial signs on the verge of their roads.

Luckily cell reception was good and between Jenni and Dave, we eventually found the sign and the turn-off that leads to their property. I am led to believe that Google HAVE repaired their glitch or if you still don’t trust them then use the Old Post pub as your way-point and travel another 5km down the R40 towards Rustenberg. Or you can do what I should have done…look out for the large chicken farm and turn right! (if you are coming from Johannesburg).

The property is in the Magaliesberg and is about 90 minutes from Johannesburg. Close enough to warrant the trip, yet far enough to make you feel that you are away from an urban setting. Personally, I believe that the Magaliesberg is an underutilized destination.

People from Johannesberg will rush to the Drakensberg yet we have our very own ‘Berg right on our doorstep.




Even though we had been traversing the R40 for a while in search of the hidden road to Phefumula, we were still smiling, if somewhat chilly. Given that the retreat sits in a valley, it tends to be cold in the early morning and the evening.

But we were looking forward to spending my 69th birthday at this venue and NOTHING was going to stop us from enjoying ourselves.




The 3.8 km of gravel/sand road to Phefumula is peppered with a variety of signs that seemingly make no sense. Like this pedestrian crossing that I noticed randomly leaning against a fence.

It turns out that Dave and Jenni collect signs of all types and descriptions and returning guests often arrive bearing gifts of signs that can be repurposed along this stretch of road.




Finally, our chalet comes into view. Well as you can see, this image is not of the accommodation but of a beaded Zebra after whom the chalet is named…the Frisky Zebra.




From the outside western corner of the accommodation looking towards both the outdoor and indoor showers as well as the bathtub and the bedroom beyond.

At the back is a verandah that runs the length of the building and allows guests access to both the lounge and the bedroom areas.




I spent a lot of time out here in the evening shooting the sunsets and just enjoying the scenery as the colour of the sky changed.




And being woken in the morning by the brilliant light of the supermoon that lit up the Magaliesberg and our bedroom like a searchlight.




I was fascinated by the exposed copperwork for all the taps in the bathroom. And they were clearly marked with an H and C so no time was wasted waiting for water to heat only to find that I had turned on the incorrect tap. And that happens more often than I care to admit.

The bed had individually controlled electric blankets, which together with the fire, kept us toasty warm as the temperature plunged towards the minus figures.




A bath with a view…and given the temperature, it was here that I chose to soak on the day of our arrival.




But an early morning shower was on the cards and seeing that the shower shares a view with the bath, it was a good option to try out this facility. Great water pressure and more than enough hot water.




There are a variety of catering options, however, should guests wish to self-cater, then this kitchen has everything that you require. There is a gas oven with a gas hob as well as a microwave and a fridge.

The cupboards are well stocked with crockery and cutlery as well as pots and pans.

If, like us, you are a non-smoker, don’t worry, matches, as well as a fire starter, are supplied.




The view from the front door.




I  did try to get into the Jacuzzi, but the water was tepid and I only managed to get in as far as my knees.

My wife on the other hand took the plunge (for research purposes) and gave it a thumbs up! That being said, she did follow this with a hot shower.




The view from the back verandah…

There are hiking trails from the chalet that takes guests up this climb, but we chose to spend our time reading and eating instead.




The fireplace separates the bedroom from the lounge and as a result, is capable of heating both rooms.

Kudos to my wife who kept the fire going long past the time that I had given up trying to resurrect the flames.





Part of my birthday dinner was supplied by Phefumula. They offer this option for those guests who either don’t want to cook or who, like us, were celebrating a special occasion.

There is an online menu that arriving guests are asked to choose from and each dish serves two people.

Our dinner consisted of soup, this oxtail with steamed vegetables and rice as well as a trifle for dessert. More than enough and most delicious.




Time to watch the sunset…Good night all.




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