In the featured pic above the heading our ‘Estonia-type’ chalet is off to the far right. It’s the middle one in the picture below. It sleeps 11 people and is wonderfully comfy and warm as toast – very well insulated, double-glazed. Its called ‘St Moritz’ for some reason. It used to be called Estonia No.5. I’d have preferred a Sesotho name! Anyway, a rose by any other name . . . Maybe Mahae – ‘rural home’ or ‘rustic home’.
The new chalets they’re selling are smaller, modern, square, lots of glass. They’re OK. They call them ‘edgy’. But they’re nothing like our old “Estonian Wooden Chalet”!
We bought one week of winter skiing (plus three weeks in summer) and we have used it seven winters in the ten years we’ve had it. Now I would sell if I got a buyer. Someone could get a bargain for the last five years, especially if two families shared it.
*** publishing now, but a story I wrote six years ago after our annual winter trip to Lesotho – just ‘parking it’ for the archives! ***
The resort has taken another leap forward this year under PIN management since they got 51% share and with that, management control. Most noticeable was the parking, the roads and the walkways are neater and better paved. This makes getting around easier and safer. In an earlier year, Aitch once slipped on ice and got a big fright. The whole complex is tidy, too, where before material and equipment would be left lying around.
Much of the accommodation has been upgraded – notably the two big units which have been completely re-done and their outside staircases enclosed in glass (red arrows);
Two completely new staff quarters have been built below the dams which frees up more accommodation next to the restaurant. I think its up to 240 beds. Up to 800 day visitors can arrive on a busy weekend day in school holidays!
The restaurant is terrific now. They have expanded to upstairs and down, take two sittings and were fully booked Sunday night. Professional chef, lovely grub.
Weather was two perfect days – midday saw ladies skiing in skimpy tops! One day was too windy for the skilift to run, so the slope people used the Pisten Bully to take people to the top instead. With us was the Naude family Michelle and Craig and their three boys, and Tom’s mate Lungelo.
Not moving forward this year was the kids enthusiasm! Jess didn’t ski / snowboard at all – sore knee & wrist. Tom spent about half his snowboarding time doing other things, including sleeping! Three of the five boys who went with us were out on the slope early until they got kicked off when it closed – keen as mouseturd, like Jess & Tom used to be – so it was fun seeing their newby enthusiasm. Times change!
So come next January my two will have to convince me we should go – or we’ll hire out our week for the first time after eight years! Ons sal sien . . !
Just got back last evening. Nine slow hours there on Thursday, and nine hours back today. Dawdled through the Oos Vrystaat. Saw jackal (Tommy spotted him just outside Clarens), mongoose, springbok, blesbok, hartebeest, white-tailed gnu, zebra, grey rhebok, and lotsa birds. Sterkfontein full to the brim and looking blue as the sky. Fascinating to think beneath those clear waters is Nuwejaarsvlei, the farm my Mom was born on in 1928. Lived there till she was eight.
The air was crystal clear, we could see every detail of the Malutis and the ‘Berg. Here’s the whole High Berg from Sentinel to Giants Castle (click on the pic).
Kids were a pleasure. Jess took a friend Savanna, and they giggled and ogled the ski instructors non-stop. The Naudes joined us again, so Tom had Joshua and we had James and Michael, old-time skiers all, now – *yawn*!
Ma Michelle took to skiing like a duck to water and won all the bum boarding races hands-down. Must be technique, as I thought my superior attraction to gravity would beat her, but no.
Car Trouble! Craig had car trouble and spent two nights in Ficksburg after we’d all left!! He took his new black Jeep CherryOkie and burnt out the starter motor trying to ignite frozen diesel. Ernest the resident Afriski diesel mech (he keeps the Pisten Bullys going) tried, but no go, so a flatbed truck was summoned from Ficksburg, land of the Cherry Cherry beauty contest.
Before the flatbed arrived, he borrowed my bakkie and took his vrou Michelle and three boys to the Free State Holy City by the River Jordan (OK, Bethlehem). Hired a car for them, so they got back to Westville one night before we did (Monday night). He got back to Afriski late Monday, just before Braam arrived wif ve flatbed. R3600 later the Jeep was dropped on (or off) a jack at the Ficksburg auto-electrician’s, cracking the sump. So Craig is still in F’burg, two nights later. F*ckit, I think he said . . .
The Resort: Afriski is MUCH more organised now that PIN (the guys I bought thru) have 51% and management control.
This was our seventh trip, so I’m happy we’ve made good use of it. The kids still look forward to it all year – they’re already plotting next year! And they always ask, “Can we go again in the holidays?” and I have to explain how it costs a stack if you go out of your allocated week.
I paid R125 000, so still expensive, but getting less each year! The big question will come when we decide to sell! (update 2020: Well, COVID lockdown played havoc with the resort’s finances; if it survives – it’s touch and go – it’ll be a while before we’ll be able to sell ).
Our chalet is very comfy, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a big lounge, 12 beds. Lovely kitchen, well-equipped. About 500m from the slope, so we get plenty of exercise in the thin air!
Eye Candy: On our last day six gorgeous shapely models arrived for a photo shoot and had a ski lesson. It was a glorious bright sunny day so they all wore skimpy tops and I had to check up on the kids wif me binocs.