Kululapa. A unique destination near Howick, KZN

I turn sentences around. That's my life. I write a sentence and then I turn it around. Then I look at it and I turn it around again. Then I have lunch. Then I come back in and write another sentence. Then I have tea and turn the new sentence around. Then I read the two sentences over and turn them both around. Then I lie down on my sofa and think. Then I get up and throw them out and start from the beginning. Philip Roth




If eyes are the windows to the soul, then windows are the eyes to our world. And the windows at Kululapa offer a vista of an indigenous forest that stretches in almost every direction. Birdsong, where we stayed, is surrounded by forest on all sides and thus guests are awoken to the sound of birdcalls long before the sun makes an appearance in the valley in which this unique accommodation is set.




Upstairs in Birdsong, the Hobbit Room, as we named it, is a welcoming space for those who wish to enjoy the feeling of being almost cocooned and cossetted. Although the doorway might be of Hobbit proportions, the room itself has plenty of space and height as well as windows on two of the walls.




For those who might have a ‘thing’ about heights… You do not need to climb either of these ladders to get the geyser to operate. Everything is done at ground level. This is how the hot water geyser outside Birdsong is accessed. Heated by the wood burning donkey-boiler, that can be seen next to the structure this geyser provided more than enough hot water during the course of the day to both shower as well as wash dishes (Birdsong is self-catering). But you have to remember to stoke the fire to heat the boiler!

For those who do not know how a boiler of this nature works, it is actually quite simple. You add wood to the firebox( left of frame), light it, and the resulting fire heats the water surrounding the firebox (through the use of a heat exchanger). This heated water is then pumped through a line into this geyser and the process then repeats in a loop, providing constant off-the-grid hot water.




Anything can be repurposed to make it into something useful or, in this case, a wall decoration.

Given the looks of this object, I would hazard a guess that it might be from overhead telephone/electricity lines.




I wonder when this coal heated iron was last utilized for its intended purpose? Currently, it is being used as decoration.

Did you know?

A charcoal iron was an early iteration of the modern clothes iron that is in use currently. It is called a charcoal iron because it has a container inside its base where burning charcoal was placed to heat it up. The holes that line the base allow air to circulate and keep the charcoal embers burning. Given the power outages that South Africa is currently experiencing, this might be brought back into production.




Jack be nimble,

Jack be quick,

Jack jump over the candlestick’

The rhyme is first recorded in a manuscript of around 1815 A.D. and was collected by James Orchard Halliwell in the mid-nineteenth century.

Jumping candlesticks was a form of fortune telling and a sport. Good luck was said to be signaled by clearing a candle without extinguishing the flame.

Or, it referred to this scenario…

This famous rhyme refers to an English pirate named Black Jack Smatt, who lived in Jamaica in Port Royal. He was one of the most famous pirates of the Caribbean, as he was notoriously smart, quick and nimble to escape from authorities, who, in his later pirate years, wanted to capture and hang him.

It also featured in the lyrics of Don McClean’s 1971 hit ‘American Pie’ and it was a referance to the Rolling Stone hit ‘Jumping Jack Flash:

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick,

Jack Flash sat on a candlestick,

‘Cause fire’s the devil’s only friend.

You pay your money and you take your choice.




I wondered how this rope landed up on a farm, in a forest, in a valley, in the middle of the Midlands in KZN. It looks capable of tying up an ocean-going vessel and there were none of those to be seen.




Could be an English country setting. Except you do not find Nguni cattle in England.




My little corner office under the stairs. It took me a while to realize that there was a chair and table directly behind me that faced the window, rather than the wall. And my power cable comfortably reached there, so I was able to work AND enjoy the view almost simultaneously.




The lounge where we spend the majority of our time while we were at Kululapa.

And yes, that is me in the mirror!




Taking me back to my teenage years. The “Pushbike Song” by The Mixtures was released in 1970. This bike looks like it has been around that long.

Ridin’ along on my pushbike, honeyWhen I noticed youRidin’ downtown in a hurry, honeyDown South Avenue
You looked so prettyAs you were ridin’ alongYou looked so prettyAs you were singing this song
Well, I put on the speed and I tried catching upBut you were pedaling harder tooRidin’ along like a hurricane, honeySpinning out of view
You looked so prettyAs you were ridin’ alongYou looked so prettyAs you were singing this song
Sing this song
A-round, round, wheels goin’ round, round, roundDown up pedals, down up downBut I gotta get across to the other side of townBefore the sun goes down
Hey, hey, hey
Now we’re riding along on the bicycle, honeyThat’s a bicycle built for twoA-lookin’ at my honey in the rearview mirrorAnd now I got a better view
You looked so prettyAs you were ridin’ alongYou looked so prettyAs you were singing this song
Sing this song
A-round, round, wheels goin’ round, round, roundDown up pedals, down up downBut I gotta get across to the other side of townBefore the sun goes down
Hey, hey, hey
Songwriters: Idris Lloyd Jones / James Evan Jones
The Pushbike Song lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner Chappell Music, Inc


Porcupine poop…with a lip-balm tube to give scale. I usually have a multi-tool with me, but on this walk I had left it in my suitcase.

Did you know?

During summer, porcupines mostly feed on leaves from shrubs and herbs, which is why the color of their poop is brown to black during these times.

However, once it is winter, they often feed on tree bark, particularly conifers, which makes their poop reddish-brown. Experts say reddish-brown is the most usual color.

FYI, there is an African legend about those who discover porcupine poop in the bush. I goes like this:

A remarkable myth weaves its tale, whispered among those who dwell close to nature’s trail. It speaks of porcupine poop, a magical sight, hidden in the bush’s embrace, a treasure in plain sight.

Legend has it that those who chance upon this curious find are blessed with wisdom and luck.

When the sun dips low, and shadows dance in the twilight’s gleam, one may glimpse the glint of these sacred gems, luminescent and serene.

The first to spot this precious find is granted wisdom profound.

The second person to stumble upon this gift, their fortune takes a shift. Prosperity blooms in their path, as the porcupine’s blessings ward off wrath. They find success in every venture, for the droppings bring abundance, and a lifetime of grand adventure.

The third one who finds porcupine poop will discover that the magic of the bush becomes entwined within their soul..

So, as you wander through Africa’s lush terrain, keep an eye out for porcupine poo. For within that humble dung lies a tale untold, a myth of blessings, as ancient as gold. And to those who find it, their lives are changed, as they hold wisdom, luck, and power.




This is a relatively unknown destination by those who might want more of the modern conveniences that travelers have come to expect from certain establishments. That being said, everything that self-catering guests need to make their stay comfortable and memorable for all the right reasons is available in Birdsong.

Kululapa is one of those properties that I want to sing their praises from the tree tops, but at the same time I selfishly want to keep this as a bolt-hole for myself. A not quite off the grid property where I can come and recharge MY batteries while eating 28 day muffins with Hazel and walking the forest trails with Anton.

If you are a jaded traveller looking for a destination that will allow you to just ‘be’, then Kululapa is definitely be on a ‘must visit’ list.

With thanks to  Hazel and Anton Hartwick for hosting not only me, but my wife and child as well.




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