Help turn a house into an eco-friendly B&B in the mountainous ‘wilds’ of Sibasa, South Africa

  • South Africa
  • Favourited 40 times
  • Last activity: 25 May 2023



 Min stay requested: 1 month or more



  • Description


    Help turn a dilapidated house into an eco-friendly B&B in the mountainous ‘wilds’ of South Africa.

    I am a recently widowed, ageing, lesbian ‘matriarch’ (a relic of the '60's, a tad frail of body, but not of mind!!) who has been living for many, many, years in a large, and now somewhat dilapidated house, with ample gardens (half a hectare) in a rural village in Limpopo Province, South Africa. Limpopo is situated in the somewhat wild, far north-east corner of South Africa, bordering Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Botswana, and close to the famous Kruger National Park (game reserve and home of the ‘big five’: lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino). The village is in an area known locally as ‘Venda’ which is the traditional home of the friendly, culturally fascinating and peace-loving VhaVenda people.

    For all the years I have lived here, I have been working closely with the rural communities in a variety of human rights empowerment projects, as well as arts and crafts development and marketing. With the recent death of my beloved life companion, my thoughts have now turned to how I might continue to contribute to this rural community after I too am gone. As I have no children, I have decided to gift my property to two amazing VhaVenda people, Thina and Wani, who have been in my employ for many years. Since they will inherit it when I die, my goal is to turn my property into an eco-friendly and easy-to-manage B&B so that they can continue to have a livelihood when I pass on. For this I need some help, as I myself seem to be running very low on energy these days, and it’s too much for Thina and Wani to do alone.

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Help with Eco Projects
    DIY and building projects
    General Maintenance
  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    The property is situated in a tiny village (only about 20 houses), on the edge of a crocodile-infested dam. It is in a mountainous location, surrounded by forests (mostly pine, but also an ancient indigenous forest known as “the holy forest”) and in close proximity to “the Sacred Lake of Fundudzi”, said to be the home of a magical white crocodile, as well as many natural pools and waterfalls.
    Although the village is relatively modern, there are dwellings just over the mountain that are still comprised of traditional rondavels, linked with low walls often beautifully hand-decorated. The VhaVenda people are renowned for their rich and intriguing cultural heritage, which includes arts, crafts, traditional dancing and much more. Many traditional rites of passage are still practiced, for both boys and girls, and variations of traditional dress are worn by old and young alike. Having lived here for 40+ years, I am well known in the community so you will have the opportunity to meet and get to know people of different cultures – not only VhaVenda – and to visit artist and crafter friends at work. Venda is also known for its fruit – especially avocados, bananas, mangos, litchis and oranges, whilst local “street food” ranges from roasted corn and peanuts, through to chicken’s feet and mopani worms for the adventurous! Thanks to the rich diversity of people living in the nearest town, Thohoyandou (which means “Head of the Elephant”), you can find delicious Ethiopian, Pakistani and Indian food along the back streets. For the culinarily less-brave, there’s the Thavhani Mall with KFC and even McDonalds!!

  • Help


    To help focus on and achieve the goal of creating an eco-friendly, easy to manage B&B for Thina and Wani to manage alone when I pass on, I am looking for one or two volunteers, to work alongside Thina and Wani for around 15 hours a week to set things up. This would normally be 3 hours a day, 5 days a week for a minimum of one month, but working hours can be flexible.
    Working with Thina, you could help with repairing/renovating bits of the house so that it is more suitable as a BnB. The house is brick with some internal hardboard walls and wooden window frames which are under attack from white ants. There is SO much to be done that with a few exceptions, you can basically pick, from a long list of potential jobs, whichever ones best suit your interests. Thina, who speaks English, is fun to work with, strong and very innovative. He has completed a basic carpentry course and does everything from woodwork to fixing plugs, painting, tiling and maintaining our small veggie garden. However he has a somewhat ‘unschooled’ approach, which means someone with broad DIY interest and experience, an eye for detail and perhaps some management skills, would be ideal.
    Wani is currently “chief cook & bottle-washer” and in total control of the housekeeping – for which she needs no guidance! However, I would like her to take charge of the kitchen garden and hope to employ a part-time gardener when the BnB is up and running. For this we need someone who can help to expand our enclosed veggie and herb garden so that it can feed us all. A challenge here (apart from keeping the monkeys out!) would be to set up a planting schedule so that we have a constant supply instead of a huge surplus once a year. There are lots of new projects that could be initiated to improve the garden’s productivity – such as keeping bees, maybe chickens and/or guineafowl. Some prior knowledge of bee-keeping or gardening would be wonderful but certainly not necessary. We will learn as we go along!

  • Languages spoken

    English: Fluent

  • Accommodation


    If the volunteers are a couple, I can offer a large room with queen-size bed and bathroom en suite. If singles, one will have a smaller room with their own loo, and a bathroom shared with me. I will provide breakfast, and there is a fridge in which the volunteers can keep their own food and refreshments, and a well-equipped kitchen. I have satellite TV and good Wi-Fi, but the cell phone signal is not always great – only one cell network provider, MTN, reaches us.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    Being located in the culturally rich and environmentally stunning rural north of South Africa, there is plenty to do and see in your free time. There are many fascinating places to visit close by as well as further afield, but for longer trips, own transport will be needed (+/- US$22/£18 per day to hire). Our village is located 70km from the Kruger National Park and 200km from the ancient site of the Kingdom of Mapungubwe – both offer lovely accommodation. The Zimbabwe border is a mere 140km away. Frequent mini-bus taxi’s are available to take you to the closest town (20km) and the local “spaza shop” (selling basics) is about 6km down the road. Closer to home, there are hiking paths, as well as many natural pools and waterfalls to cool off in. There are crocodiles in the dam – so no swimming there – but there is a small plunge pool available on the property, for cooling down during our very hot summers if you don’t feel up to a hike to one of the many rockpools or waterfalls in the vicinity.

    Crime, which many people worry about when visiting South Africa, has never been a problem in this area because people here know and look after each other. Most of the villagers are VhaVenda and Zimbabwean and love to welcome visitors and teach them about their culture.

    Last but not least, you should know that I am a crazy dog-lover, and yes – the canines tend to rule the household! But they love visitors and are good company on walks along the many forest roads that surround us. Although I have reached the grand age of 71, I am young at heart and very “laid back” and easy-going, leaving visitors to do as they wish: either keeping to themselves if they are loners, or spending time with me if they want company. Regarded as a tad “off the wall”, I have plenty of tales to tell, having lived amongst the VhaVenda people as a white woman for 40 years, ex Tanzania and Seychelles. Pre-Covid our home was always full of volunteers – PeaceCorps and IVS – and many still return for holidays. I miss them, and so look forward to meeting new friends of other nationalities through Workaway!

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

    • Can host families

  • Can host digital nomads

    Can host digital nomads

    This host has indicated that they love having digital nomads stay.

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    This host can provide space for campervans.

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week

Host ref number: 268822518949

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