- 12 Apr 2017
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5 Excellent Off-the-Grid Escapes
Oudebosch Eco Cabins, Kogelberg Nature Reserve, Western Cape
These five two-bedroom chalets, constructed from wood and glass, are a perfect mix of green living and stylish design. Quirky eco touches include chandeliers made from bottles and indigenous flora growing on the roof. The waterless bio-toilets in each cottage's two bathrooms are a great way to educate the kids – they might even get a kick out of flinging a spoon of compost into the bowl. The on-site eco-pool is a superb place for relaxing, as is the Palmiet River, which has numerous great swimming spots. Plus if the kids get bored, Kleinmond's beach and small harbour, which has cafés and shops, is just 10 minutes away. There's no cellphone reception and electricity is part solar.
Best car to get you there: The Mercedes-Benz S 400h is the ticket – an ultra-luxury hybrid with silent cruising ability, ensuring you arrive and leave in fine eco-style.
Agama Cottage, Dream Lodge, Magaliesberg, Gauteng
One of two couples' cottages at Dream Lodge, Agama's lack of electricity means romantic candlelight and silence. A huge bath makes for relaxing wallowing, while the outside shower offers views of the Magalies Mountains. In the chillier months, a couch in front of the fireplace is the perfect spot for snuggling. Dinner and breakfast – with ingredients from the lodge's permaculture garden – are served at the cottage, so you don't have to leave your love nest. There is no cellphone reception or electricity.
Best car to get you there: Savour the off-camber corners on the Magliesberg roads with an agile performance-hot hatchback – the Mercedes-AMG A 45.
Adventure with friends
Riemvasmaak Chalets, Riemvasmaak, Northern Cape
These community-run chalets in remote Riemvasmaak, near the Namibian border, are one of the region's best-kept secrets. Set amid towering cliffs next to a string of hot springs, the eight-bed or four-bed self-catering huts are comfortably rustic, their stone-and-reed design blending in with the environment. There is no cellphone reception and guests need to bring their own drinking water, and the dirt road down to the camp can be a challenging assembly of rocks. However, bathing in the hot springs under the stars to nothing but the sound of snuffling donkeys more than makes up for any inconvenience. Hike into the Riemvasmaak canyon, test your skills on one of the 4x4 trails, or visit Augrabies Falls, which is about a two-hour drive away.
Best car to get you there: Conquering the Kalahari dunes requires power, and there's no SUV better equipped for this than the Mercedes-AMG GLS 63.
Kosi Forest Lodge, Kosi Bay Nature Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal
Like a Robinson Crusoe hideaway but with all the trimmings, Kosi Forest Lodge has six double thatched chalets and two family units, making it perfect for a group booking. Set in indigenous sand forest, each room has an outdoor bathroom boma and en suite indoor shower. With access to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, holidays here are all about exploring the lakes and waterways by canoe, birdwatching, snorkelling at Kosi Bay Mouth or just chilling on the pool deck. Cellphone reception is patchy and electricity is a mix of generator and solar.
Best car to get you there: Never underestimate the traction challenges presented by the powdery sands of northern KZN. With 4MATIC in the Mercedes-Benz GLA 220d, you can savour the coastal scenery instead of sweating a recovery.
Just For Two, Baviaanskloof, Eastern Cape
With not a soul for miles and only paraffin lamps for light, this historic stone cottage is a guaranteed balm for any city-weary couple seeking solitude. Décor is earthy and simple, respectful of the building's 19-century history. The clay floors are embossed with patterns made from peach pips (including a large heart motif) and furniture is tastefully traditional. Take a hike into the kloof and reward yourself with a dip in a deep natural pool or explore the nearby Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve with its mountain passes, gorges and valleys. There is no cellphone reception or electricity.
Best car to get you there: The Baviaanskloof guards its secrets and serenity with some of the most testing gravel roads in SA. Access it quietly and efficiently in the Mercedes-Benz GLE 500 e, a petrol-electric hybrid SUV.
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