In the early days the original Schoemanskloof road was the only main road from the Rand to the Lowveld and Nelspruit. Johannes Boers acquired a small piece of land in the Schoemanskloof valley in the early 1950s, primarily as a warmer option to his Belfast farm during the cold wintertime. Many weary travellers stopped and requested overnight accommodation. This initiated the idea of a proper guesthouse. Johannes built the two original thatched rondavels (literally "round rooms" meaning “home”) in about 1954. His wife, Johanna Maria Boers (nee du Toit) was known as ‘Joe’, and she managed the facility until 1960 when her husband fell ill and they moved back to Belfast permanently. During those days the establishment was known as Schoemanskloof Rest Camp. Since then Old Joe’s Kaia has changed hands a few times but has continuously operated as a stopover and guesthouse. The name was finally originated by the owners Willie and Spies in 1984 when they named the guesthouse after The Old Joe Statue. The current owners are Marian Cottle, a grand daughter of the founder couple, and partner Paul Drews. They live on the premises with their young son, Damian (when he visits from boarding school) and three cats, Shady, Joey and Mackie who were born in the garden. Who was Old Joe? Look out for this famous painted rock as you come down Patatanek Pass on your trip from Johannesburg (± 35 km from the Machado toll gate). Old Joe is in reality resembling a person with a big belly. Road constructors working on the Schoemanskloof road found and erected this rock in 1927, naming it after their foreman Joe Barbas and "Old Joe" was born. The statue still features prominently in tourist literature and is painted regularly by local schools and residents, changing its ‘outfit’ and image to the delight of passers-by! Current news at Old Joe's Kaia This year has come and gone and we can’t believe that Damian has been at boarding school for almost a full year now. So much has happened this year! Despite the slump in the economy we have been growing from strength to strength with a consistent increase in the number of guests visiting us. This is really good news and has provided us with the opportunity to pursue the Refurbishment Programme as we have for the past two years. We thank all of those who have supported and encouraged us to restore Old Joe’s Kaia as a true gem in the Lowveld. Refurbishments: · We have redone the Kaia roofs and entrances · We have erected a security fence and installed a security gate · The embankment on the side of the car park was tidied up with a retaining stone wall and masses of new plants, kindly donated by Jill Trollip (a resident across the river) and Johann Brummer of Alwiri Nursery (higher up in the kloof). Thank you for your kind generosity! · The pool area is currently being revamped and should be completed by the start of the festive season, weather permitting! · The layout of the Labyrinth will start shortly and should be ‘walkable’ by mid-January. Gail Peck joined us recently as our full-time garden manager. She is passionate about nature and the outdoors and has transformed the garden miraculously, restoring it as an indigenous haven. During the clearing of alien invasives she frequently discovers new and exciting indigenous plants in the undergrowth.