Chris and Linda Pickels moved to Hermiston farm in 1989 with their 2 sons David and Christopher. For nearly 10 years they farmed mostly with oranges and lemons, but being a fairly small farm of 30 hectares they were finding it hard to sustain their income and needed to supplement it. It was around 1998 that they converted their farmhouse into a bed and breakfast and named it Chrislin B&B (after Chris and Linda). They soon found that they were filling their 2 rooms quite easily, so they decided to expand.
Chris, who did not like anything conventional, came up with the idea of building a mud hut. He had some knowledge of building with mud because as a child he would play with other Xhosa children on his parents’ farm and together they would build forts and other mud structures. And so… he took the risk and through much trial an error, Chris and his sons built the first mud hut in 2000.
Amazingly, guests seemed to enjoy the huts and so they built a few more. Towards the end of 2002, David, their eldest son, met Margaret and for extra pocket money they would cook dinner for guests in the evenings. This worked out so well that they decided to move to the farm permanently and assist with the running of the lodge. The following year Chris and David built a few more huts and a swimming pool.
In 2004 David and Margaret got engaged and desperately wanted to get married on the farm. Margaret loves co-ordinating functions and so they decided to build their own wedding venue, which they named Sneezewoods. It took 9 months of sheer blood, sweat and tears but by December 2004 the venue was completed just in time for the wedding. Since then, Sneezewoods has been operating as a wedding venue and also the venue for breakfasts, light lunches and evening meals.
In 2006 David and Chris got itchy feet again and built a new style of hut, which became their luxury huts. In the meantime, Christopher Junior, their youngest son, started his own adventure company called Crisscross Adventures back in 2005. He now lives his dream with his wife Terri by taking guests and gap year students on exciting adventure trips in and around the Greater Addo Elephant National Park and the Eastern Cape.
In December 2007, Margaret and David became proud parents to little Ross, who keeps the entire family really busy, and their second Tristan in February 2011. Very sadly, Chris passed away suddenly in January 2011. Whilst the sadness of his passing is still heavily felt by his family, friends and past guests who knew and loved him, the legacy of Chrislin African lodge has been left behind by him for future guests to enjoy.
2014 was the Year of Renovation and Expansion. 6 new spacious Sunset huts were built (with adjoining doors for families and couples travelling together), Sneezewoods in-house restaurant was redone and the Garden- and Orchard-huts were re-thatched with an interior make-over.