After my bush experiences in Safari Lodge and Woodbury Lodge on Amakhala, my final stop on my Fair Trade in Tourism blog trip was Camp Figtree, a colonial style lodge high in the Eastern Cape’s Zuurburg mountains.
Perched atop the Zuurberg
Driving up the steep winding road flanked by indigenous bush to Camp Figtree, I had a feeling that I was heading somewhere special. Little did I know that I was about to be blown away by the sheer beauty of this hidden treature. I arrived at Camp Figtree with few expectations. I’d been to the nearby Addo Elephant National Park before, but have never made it 20 minutes up the pass to the Zuurberg mountains.
After a fun little drive up the pass, I was suddenly atop a little piece of paradise. I was soon mesmerised by the quiet beauty, understated luxury and sheer magnificence of the the scenery. And the quiet. It was oh, so quiet.
I was welcomed by Mike Ncube, the lodge manager, who makes you feel right at home with his friendly smile. Unfortunately, due to my limited amount of time in the area, I couldn’t stay over. I just had a few hours to enjoy lunch, a nature walk and a tour of the property. Oh, how I wish I had time to spend a few nights. My lunch was a lovely chicken salad on the wide shady verandah – perfect for the hot summer’s day!
Colonial elegance with a modern twist
The lodgings at Camp Figtree resemble something out of a decor magazine. The lodge has been designed around its original 1920’s traditional colonial building style with corrugated iron roofing and wide, sweeping verandas perfect for G&T’s on a balmy summer evening.
The large, dreamy rooms exude a modern colonial style that is luxurious without being over the top. I loved that the suites and luxury tents all have massive wooden decks with 270 degree panoramic view of the Eastern Cape bush. I could spend hours just taking in the scenery.
Camp Figtree also boasts two new luxury tents float 4 meters above the mountain edge and overlook the green gorges below. I love that you can get so close to nature and still have the comforts of home. Don’t expect television or air conditioning in the rooms though. This is proper old school cool.
The kitchen at Camp Figtree produces African Country Style Karoo food with a modern twist. They specialise in game dishes, local pasture reared beef and scrumptious desserts.
In recognition of their responsible tourism practices. Camp Figtree gained Fair Trade Tourism accreditation in 2013. The lodge has a local procurement policy to support local suppliers where possible – especially for decor, food and wood. The vegetables for the kitchen are supplied from an organic garden at their sister property in Addo. During orange season, the lodge sources oranges for their famous freshly squeezed orange juice from local traders.
They are also involved in the social upliftment of their local community. Some of the projects they have been involved with include – Sole Work, Langbos Community Project and creating thier own permaculture ecosystem. They have also installed a grey-water system.
As they are so remote, the lodge is powered by generator and is switched off between 10:00 to 17:00 and from 22:00 to 06:00. I can only imagine the stars at night! Solar-charged lanterns are provided to add to the ambiance of staying in the wilderness.
An important part of Fair Trade Tourism certification is fair working practices and staff development. The lodge employs 17 staff, of which 12 are from the local area. In an area with high employment, this is significant. The management are big on in house training and encourage staff to get relevant qualifications to encourage upward mobility.
I chatted to Simba and Alan who both started working at Camp Figtree as a security guards and are now a registered nature guides. I was informed that the staff at Camp Figtree earn higher than average salarries and that they have good benefits. The staff all have funeral policies, and management was in the process of getting a medical aid fund for the staff.
On my nature walk with Simba, he told he that since working at Camp Figtree, he’d fallen in love with nature and conservation and was currently pursuing a diploma in wildlife conservation and management.
Safaris and old school romance
With easy access to Addo Elephant National Park, Camp Figtree offers a great alternative to staying in Addo. I would seriously recommend it as a base from which to explore Addo. The lodge conducts its own open Land Rover safaris into the park daily.
Camp Figtree offers a throwback to bygone times. This is the place that you take your partner for a special weekend, to propose, or even to host your wedding. It’s a place for peace, quiet and reflection, where you can escape the noise of the city and take in nature and all it’s magnificene. Yes, it really is that special. In addition to the romance and tranqillity, Camp Figtree practices sustainable tourism which makes them even cooler.
In my short time there I’ve already being seduced by Camp Figtree. I’d love to visit again, but next time it will definitely be for a romantic weekend 🙂
I wish I was gifted with a camera, but I’m not so check out photographer Adrian Frost’s blog for more exquisite images of the luxury of Camp Figtree.
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