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  • Writer's pictureSandra Caganoff

Sandra and Liesa do the Cederberg

My friend Liesa and I have been on many trips together, some for fun and some for business. Our first was in 1978 at age seventeen, to Israel, where we lost our virginity at the same time, albeit to different men. I said it was quite good. She said it was meh. When we went to New York a few years later, I said: "Don’t talk to strangers." She spoke to strangers. In Sao Paolo, I said: "Watch out for kidnappers." She didn’t and I must admit, she did not get kidnapped. When we flew in a tiny plane and obviously it was gonna crash, I screamed: ‘Oh god we are going to die.’

She looked out the window and said: ‘C’est La Vie.’

And when we were out in the bush a few years ago and Covid broke out, I thought: "This is bad, we are in trouble."

She thought I was overreacting.

So when a trip to Cederberg Ridge Wilderness Lodge outside of Cape Town came up, I invited her. Because we travel so well together. She drove. I navigated. She said: " I am going to stop for that hitchhiker." I said: "I would rather you didn’t." She said: "I am going to take that road." I said: "No, take this one.'

Which happened to be the wrong one but the route was gorgeous.

What’s a bit of mud between friends.

Quite a lot, it seems

We arrived at our destination in good spirits and in total agreement about one thing. The Simbavati Cederberg Ridge Wilderness Lodge, set among the mountains and in the middle of the wildflowers, is exquisite. Liesa is a home stager so she knows her decor. She loved every tiny detail. I am a travel person, a Tour Operator, so I know a good lodge. I loved every tiny detail too. Everything about Cederberg Ridge is stylish, luxurious, cosy, warm and inviting and every person who works here is welcoming, genuine, lovely and professional. The setting, the sofas, fabrics, materials used, the service, all brilliant.

Our bags were taken to the suite. Well, Liesa’s bags were taken. I had only bought a hat. She’d bought along three jackets, three shirts, three pairs of jeans, three pairs of shoes, an entire medical kit, clean underwear and great skin products.

"Use my moisturiser," she said.

I did.

"I DID NOT MEAN USE THE WHOLE THING," she yelled, when I walked out the bathroom glowing like Kim Kardashian. Apparently she’d had it for a year. I finished it in one go, making a mental note to buy some for myself.

L'occitane, Immortal.

That afternoon we went with David, one of the resident field guides, for a hike around the Spitskop mountain, with my glowing skin, magnificent boulders, insane flowers, Acacia and fig trees, rock dassies and klipspringers. David warned us there were two spitting cobras in the area.

"What happens if they bite?" I asked David.

"They don’t bite," he replied." They spit in your eye. And that is the end of that."

We all agreed we did not want to get spat at.

I crouched down to photograph the fields of yellow flowers to the right of us.

"Euryops abrotanifolous", I announced.

"Weeds," my friend replied.

At dinner, which was fabulous, Liesa pointed out the man dining on his own.

"Should we invite him to join us?" she asked.

"Are you nuts" I replied. "He wants to be on his own, that is why he is on his own."

He joined us. He had a great time. He thought we were hilarious. We thought he was fun too. Until JoJo asked what we would like for dessert.

"Three chocolate fondants please," I said.

"One chocolate fondant with three spoons please," she said.

"I think I will leave now," he said.

We said goodnight to the stranger and goodnight to the staff, and made our way under the wide-open starry sky, to bed. Liesa had the bubble bath which housekeeping had drawn up for her. I took a shower and jumped into my bed with an electric blanket. She jumped into hers with a hot water bottle.

We picked up our books and said" Shhhh, let’s read."

I was reading Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust. Philosophy.

She was reading Jonny Steinberg, Winnie and Nelson. Politics.

Who reads about Winnie and Nelson on holiday???

As the fire died down, we pulled our warm duvets up and over us and switched off the light.

"Goodnight sweet friend," I said, swallowing my sleeping tablet.

She was already snoring.

Simbavati Cederberg Ridge Wilderness Lodge. 10/10 perfection.

If you want to book, contact Sandra -

And if you want your home staged, contact Liesa -

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