The first thing that struck me as I drove down the driveway of Amanzi Guest House in Craighall Park were the trees. So it was no wonder when Pam, the owner, told me she had initially bought the property because of the trees. Amanzi is like a secret forest retreat in the suburbs, a beautiful old double story, with four upstairs apartments, and three separate cottages in a huge garden with a magnificent new tree-house style deck. The apartments and cottages can either be booked on a Bed and Breakfast or self-catering option.
It feels peaceful at Amanzi, and that is exactly what Pam, a natural beauty, was aiming for. She’s a KwaZulu Natal girl, a real water baby, and she wanted something in Johannesburg that would remind her of the sea. Naturally, no pun intended, Amanzi means water. There are water features and rock pools everywhere, and a lovely large salt water swimming pool that Sugar the labrador was loving at the time of my visit!
The feeling of peace does not only come from the nature. It comes from Pam’s gleaming eyes and clear skin. She juices! She not only juices, she’s organic, she has every health appliance possible, and her healthy way of living shows. She doesn’t push it at anyone though, and eggs, bacon and sausage are always on offer for breakfast, but so is a healthy green spinach and celery juice and other healthy alternatives. The eggs are always free-range. And of course Pam makes her own bread with stone ground flour and all the water is filtered.
Amanzi has a beautiful communal vegetable garden growing out on the pavement. The sign reads – ‘Pick what you can eat, but leave some for your brothers and sisters.’
Most of Pam’s visitors are long-stays. Corporates, Internationals and I actually had coffee with a couple in their eighties who were in the process of relocating to France. He drove an old Mercedes, wore a panama hat and had a cigar hanging from his lips. His wife a version of Karen Blixen . They had two dogs in tow, were staying in the two bedroomed cottage while waiting for their immigration papers, and personally, they did not look like they were leaving anytime soon.
Visitors are not always long stay though. There was a couple from Malaysia who were doing a quick three days in Johannesburg, a Dutch woman on her own travelling through Africa and a few BBC corporates. Amanzi is second home to many BBC correspondents.
The beauty of Amanzi is that it is large and so guests are not on top of each other. Pam and Rob regularly do ‘spots’ on the new rooftop deck, serving drinks and snacks so everyone can meet if they want to. Mostly, they want to. And the rooftop deck, made of recycled wood shavings and plastic (looks just like wood), is the perfect place for Spots. The views over Delta Park and Northcliff Ridge are astonishing.
Spots, by the way, is a KwaZulu Natal thing – evening drinks with cocktails and conversation.
Pam is an interesting host. Last year she and Rob did the Camino Trail in Spain, (a walk of nearly 800 km) and this year they are viewing icebergs and glaciers in Alaska, walking the Cotswolds in the UK, and cycling in Alsace and Croatia. Pam met Rob via internet dating (yes, it can work…) and when he’s not with her on a new adventure, he’s around Amanzi, with his calm persona – a second host and brilliant fixer of all.
Pam and Rob run the place themselves, and when they’re away, there’s Thabang and two wonderful women who has been working at Amanzi forever. He also has a gleam in his eye and clearly juices too! Guests are discreetly well looked after, always. There is high speed Wi-fi and each cottage or apartment is well fitted out. High definition TV, fully equipped kitchens or kitchenettes, intercom communication, the beautiful bird-song, the views over the trees, the stunning garden, pool and braai facilities. An evening braai is not unusual, either private or open, and guests share stories and travel experiences.
Stories are a big part of Pam’s life. She’s involved with underprivileged communities and working with an informal settlement, setting up story-telling workshops and offering hands on advice for communal vegetable gardens. Guests are welcome to accompany her on her exploits, and ex guests from Luxembourg recently set up a creche and a chicken farm at one of the projects.
She does amazing work. Her Guesthouse is gorgeous. And she juices!!
Pam’s SUPER HEALTHY GREEN MAMBA SMOOTHIE recipe
Spinach, celery, cucumber, a frozen banana (big secret), a small lemon, half a pineapple, 3 T coconut oil, flax seeds and crushed ice. (naturally from filtered water).
Tel: 011 – 880 0205 / 083 616 1032
Amanzi Guest House is a proud member of the Johannesburg-Guesthouses association.