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Since 2015 I have been blessed with the opportunity to create a project in the idyllic setting of a private nature reserve nestled away in the undulating mountains of Mpumalanga, South Africa.
In the beginning, all there was to work with was a few abandoned hiker huts and very little experience with all the required materials, tools, knowledge and community dynamics.
We prided ourselves the fact that we were 100% off grid and free from the regulation of society. We strived to be completely self sufficient by tapping a spring for water, growing gardens for food, adopting recycling methods for waste management and a solar system for power. This self sustainable dream is the foundation for a way of life out here but, as I found out, it’s not enough to bring people together long term in a meaningful way.
So since 2018, I have been re-organising the space in this beautiful place, searching for a better way to bring a group of people together in a more profound way.
In this regard, he project has evolved and takes on a new form as a ‘Wildlife Sanctuary’ giving homes to sick, injured and unwanted wildlife. We will also welcome guests and volunteers from around the world seeking a deeper connection animals and nature in this mystical place.
To prepare the way for this new mission, a group of volunteers is needed to lay the foundations for this lofty endeavor.
Help with Eco Projects
DIY and building projects
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help around the house
Looking at all the project work to be done and all the equipment available on site, here is a list of thing a volunteers might learn while staying here:
- Construction: learn and apply a 'patented building technique' for cheap, re-deployable housing and furnishings.
- Nature: explore the majestic beauty of this pristine indigenous forest that gives way to many waterfalls nearby.
- Water: learn how to tap a spring, harvest rain and pump from a river all in one integrated circuit.
- Solar Power: learn how to design and install off grid solar power systems .
- Permaculture: grow plants using design methodology that works with nature, not against.
- Wildlife Management: learn how to care for wild animals.
- Waste Management - see how to live without throwing away anything and manage all waste onsite.
- Hosting: coordinating volunteers ensuring everyone has work, managing food prep and general cleanliness in camp.
- Design: grasp the basics of photography, graphic design, website design, jewelry making, bead work, interior design
- Outreach: help rural Africans connect to a global market by selling their clothing products online.
- Advanced: how to print on a 3D printer and how to build and use a CNC router.
To prepare the way for a wildlife sanctuary for people and animals there is always something for us to do. And to have something to do in this beautiful place is such a blessing . So with the rather large goal of setting up a wildlife sanctuary, the first thing is to break up the work into duties (recurring tasks) and projects (once-off tasks).
The basic set of daily, weekly, monthly tasks include:
• Cooking – preparing daily vegan meals, organise and go shopping
• Cleaning - vacuuming, sweeping, wiping down kitchen, ablutions, cabins
• Animal Care: tending and feeding the domestic and wild animal
• Greenhouse - composting, mulching, planting, weeding, fertilising, harvesting
• Nursery and Gardens - composting, mulching, planting, weeding, fertilising, harvesting
• Trail Blazing – explore, cut and clear, stones
• Admin - quoting, bookings and general correspondence
• Assistance - with guest and/or other volunteers
• Firewood – wheelbarrow, chainsaw, axe
• Maintenance - painting, fences, roads, trails, wood stack, rubbish bins
• Fabrication – beadwork, sewing, knitting, painting murals
• Bamboo Collection– explore, cut and clear, position stones
• Wattle Chopping – explore, chop, transport
• Sign Making - map and routes, explore, names, plaques
Once the duties have been taken care off, volunteers can discuss attempting something a bit more exciting from the "Project Tree" containing all the projects required to create a wildlife sanctuary.
Firstly, there are the communal cabins. With a somewhat rustic charm, is offers the basic comforts. There are two cabins available, each with space for two volunteers to share in each.
In addition, from the day a volunteer arrives they have the option to initiate their ‘First Project’. Volunteers are encouraged to build their own private cabin using a unique, modular housing system. Designed and developed for easy assembly (like a large tent) and yet offer the comfort and luxury of a wooden cabin (see the picture of the wooden cabin in the photo area).
So, keep in mind we are off the grid, every volunteer will have access to:
• Running water: pure mountain spring water
• Hot water: from a gas geyser in bathroom and electric geyser in kitchen
• Ablutions: with toilets, shower and basin
• Shower: gas geyser shower and a back-up ‘Solar Rocket’ shower!
• Cooking facilities: wood fired oven, gas stove, induction stove
• Accommodation: communal cabin, private cabin
• Power: from the solar array for cabin lights and digital devices
• Food: budget available for vegan menu
• Yoga: outdoor Yoga deck
• Internet: a ladder up a tree.. for the best signal in camp
THINGS TO PONDER
There is an amazing outreach initiative underway that needs volunteers,
This is the story printed on the label sold with each item:
“Walking through any one of Africa fabric markets, you cant help fall in love with the colourful, vibrant African print fabrics. To help bring these beautiful fabric to the world, we helped each tailor establish their own fashion label. It’s mainly women, who come together in groups, to make this item and they were paid fairly and treated with respect and dignity. Every buyer has direct access to the label who made their item making the whole supply chain completely transparent. This is the new global standard for ethical fashion. By purchasing this item you are supporting ethical trade. This helps the women of Africa create businesses and bring families and communities together to support themselves in a sustainable, responsible way.”
ANCIENT STONE CIRCLES: We are surrounded by these mysterious stone circles hinting at something truly astonishing about the history of humanity on earth. Scattered all the way to Mozambique and spread over many hundreds of kilometers, they are said to all converge in one main stone circle know as ‘Adams Calendar’ not far way at Kaapsehoop.
Right here on the property, an enormous complex of interconnecting circles spans from the river all the way to the top of the mountain. One of the biggest complexes unveiled to date, it remains completely hidden by the indigenous forest. Spiraling circles combined with huge contoured terraces, the discovery resembles that of an ‘ancient village’ complex within an ‘stone temple’ multiplex, cascading across an entire mountainside.
BUTTERFLIES: Also, there is significant botanical interest in the area because of the natural enclosure of the canyon walls, the forest has been left undisturbed allowing for amazing diversity in flora and fauna. During mid summer, butterflies can be seen in such immense volumes they appear as thick as water streaming from one tree to the next, as the wind gently pushes them along, as far as the eye can see. A truly unforgettable experience.
KRUGER MILLIONS: The valley is steeped in history from the time of the Boer war during the 1900's. The valley once housed President Paul Kruger's Commandos during the period of his escape to exile via Lourenco Marques (Maputo). During his stay he had a massive amount of gold brought in (7 train carriages full) and buried it somewhere in the area. Known as the ‘Kruger Millions’ it has never been found and is another fascinating mystery in the area.
ANIMALS: Nourished by the Joubert Spruit tributary of the Elands River, the natural water supply is fountain fed from the mountain tops and of the highest quality. At no stage during the past 60 years has the stream ever dried up. The Nature Reserve is ecologically contained and home to many species of fauna e.g. Bushbuck, Baboon, Klipspringer, Duiker, Steenbok, Vaal Reedbuck, Vervet Monkeys, Leopard, Genet, Rooikat, Rock Pythons and even a very shy male Hippopotamus. Bird life includes, Black Eagle, Steppe Buzzard, Kites, Falcons and some very curious Lapwings.
IN THE AREA: We are situated in a mountain canyon where you will find one of the best rock climbing areas in the country and in the top 10 globally. There is also some great mountain biking, hiking and walking trails. There is also opportunity to travel to see the 'Big Five' in the Kruger Park, God's Window in Blyde River canyon, Swaziland and the Archipelagos of Mozambique.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
More than two
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week