Monday, 11 November 2013

heavenly haven

Leaving home for a 3500 km road trip with three small children is no minor feat - especially when one is only seven months old. Bearing this in mind I began organising and writing The List ten days prior to departure - call me over-organised but I am prone to anxiety and like to minimise last minute panics. And, thanks to this foresight, by the time we were ready to leave I was relatively calm. I also realised that this was our 5th long road trip since the twins were born and  given that I only had to pack one camping cot and a single stroller, it was actually all very easy.

The challenge ended up being keeping baby in his baby chair! Luckily we live in Africa and one can get away with holding a baby on your lap in the back seat. It was either that or dealing with frayed nerves from his yelling - which we decided was far more dangerous for the driver than an unbuckled baby. Given the long, long roads we traveled, first to the Kruger Park bushveld in the North and then back down the coast to the Transkei, the girls, who were stashed right in the back of the VW, were very well behaved indeed. When the wheels did start to come off and tears seemed imminent I hurled packets of sweets, chips or lollipops at them. This, plus books and kiddie computers kept them going for a total of nine long days on the African road.
By the time we were on the second leg of our trip heading down to the Haven hotel in the Transkei, which was another three full days of driving, we were, to say the least, beginning to wear thin - like our tyres. As Anna put it perfectly: we were "becoming allergic to driving!"
We arrived at the Cweba/Dwesa Nature Reserve gate where the Haven is located, with only 5 minutes to closing time, and I don't want to entertain thoughts of what it would have meant if we had missed the gate - driving back another two hours on corrugated gravel roads to Mthahta!!
Pulling into the hotel parking lot really was like arriving at a haven as we were greeted by smiling faces that remembered us from previous visits, a comfortable clean room with white fluffy duvets and a delicious supper waiting for us in the dining room. At last we could chill out without packing or unpacking bags, cooler boxes and cars.

We first discovered the Haven hotel when the twins were 2 years old and have been back twice since, drawn to its laid back, comfortable ambiance in the unspoilt surroundings of a nature reserve. Its not fancy, its just a good old style hotel that provides three excellent meals a day, plenty of space and entertainment for kids, stretches of wild beach in walking distance, indigenous forests, waterfalls and some good waves to surf - if you are mad enough to brave the wild waters as my husband always is. As a parent this set up provides me with the ultimate holiday - just being able to not think about cooking and cleaning is enough of a holiday for me, thank you.
Having planned on three nights we stayed five and were still reluctant to leave as when you stay at the Haven its easy to become part of the family and forget about the stresses and obligations that lie waiting at home!

For more about The Haven check out: