Write your story

with personal guidance from the experts

Escape to the Karoo for a memoir weekend and a writing retreat to focus on your creativity and writing

Spend a weekend learning to write memoir with flair. Stay on, or join us afterward, for a week’s retreat in which you can write, think, breathe … and gain the best advice on your writing, fiction or non-fiction.   

It’s advice we’ve all heard: Just sit down and write your book… Well, we at All About Writing, in conjunction with the fabulous Karoo Art Hotel in Barrydale, have taken that seriously.

We’ve designed two exciting writing programmes:

  • The Art of Memoir weekend, for memoir writers from 26 to 28 July 2024. Under the baton of two acclaimed South African writers, Joanne Hichens (Death and the Afterparties) and Jo-Anne Richards (The Innocence of Roast Chicken) we’ll show you how to plan, structure and write your memoir.
  • And a follow-on Art of Writing retreat, 28 July to 2 August 2024, is open not only to participants of the memoir weekend, but also so to all writers whether you are writing memoir, crime, short stories, literary fiction … Whatever you need, we can help.

Escape the demands of job, partner, children, household and pets, and focus on your creativity at the quintessential Karoo country hotel, where all your needs will be taken care of.

There’ll be writing, music, art and delicious food in artistically driven luxurious surroundings. Be inspired by the vast Karoo landscapes. Spend a weekend learning the skills of the best memoirists.

Follow it with a week devoted to your writing, in which two internationally published authors, with decades of experience mentoring writers in a variety of genres, will provide personal guidance.

Come for both – or either.


Having just completed a writing retreat myself, I was reminded of the value of getting away from it all, escaping dogs, cats, kids, everyday responsibilities, to focus on my own creativity and writing. I hope that will be the case for you too – we’ll do plenty of writing, specifically geared towards helping you tell your personal story, whatever it might be. 

There will also be time to reflect as well as to explore the gorgeous town. We hope the experience will be a treat, all round, nurturing, reflective, exciting – and that you’ll come away with pages of writing and a clear idea of the next steps to take towards completing your manuscript. – Joanne Hichens, memoirist and novelist

Cost: From R6950 p/p sharing

Commit to telling your story today and contact The Karoo Art Hotel via email or All About Writing to book 

A memoir weekend and a writing retreat in the Karoo

How will the Art of Memoir weekend work? 

  • Check in to The Karoo Art Hotel from 2pm on the afternoon of Friday 26 July  – or come earlier and have a relaxing lunch before checking in.
  • Starting at four pm on Friday afternoon, we’ll get you thinking about Story, and how it relates to your project. This will be followed by drinks and canapes, and a delicious dinner.
  • On Saturday and Sunday, we’ll coach you through what it takes to write a memoir and guide you through different types of personal writing.
  • We’ll talk about Details, about Showing and about writing in Scenes, for dramatic impact. Each session will include a writing exercise to which you’ll receive personal feedback.
  • Start the day with a swim in the rock pools of the Tradouw Pass, yoga or a sunrise walk around the village and a hearty Karoo breakfast.
  • On Saturday there will be a break for lunch in the town, which offers an opportunity for a writing exercise on the hoof.
  • On Saturday night we’ll have pre-dinner cocktails, and another delicious farm-to-fork dinner.
  • On Sunday, after a morning of writing and discussion, we’ll have a Karoo lunch before we cast off our writers’ mantles (if that’s possible after 48 hours of creative excitement) and scatter.

How will the Art of Writing retreat work? 

  • Check in to The Karoo Art Hotel from 2pm on the afternoon of Sunday 28 July.
  • We’ll meet at five pm on Sunday afternoon to discuss your projects. This will be followed by drinks and canapes, and a delicious dinner.
  • Start each day with a swim in the rock pools of the Tradouw Pass, yoga or a sunrise walk around the village
  • After a hearty Karoo breakfast we’ll gather for a group discussion and reading session, led by All About Writing’s Jo-Anne Richards and Joanne Hichens.
  • You’ll be free to write for the rest of the day either at The Karoo Art Hotel – or, indeed, in any inspiring corner of Barrydale that you choose.
  • Each writer will have a daily one-on-one mentoring session with Jo-Anne or Joanne.
  • For those who don’t have an existing project, we offer daily creative exercises with feedback, or brainstorming sessions with the Jo-Annes.
  • The schedule is designed to provide you with the skills, tools and inspiration every writer needs to craft a story.
  • Dinners will be an opportunity to gather to talk about your writing and to eat delicious food prepared by multi award winning chef Derek Louw.
  • Depart after lunch on Friday 2 August.

Under the full moon and expert midwifery of the Two Joannes, we journeyed into the books we are each writing. Merle Levin

A memoir weekend and a writing retreat in the Karoo

Who will The Art of the Memoir programme benefit?  

  • Anyone who has always yearned to write a memoir, but struggled to begin or find a way in. 
  • Anyone who has started a memoir and become stuck, or who isn’t sure of their direction.  
  • Anyone who would like to hone their writing craft with intensive discussion, writing exercises, specifically aimed at getting you started on your project, with feedback. 
  • Those who would like to develop their creativity in beautiful surroundings in the company of a like-minded group. 
  • Those who would like to kickstart their writing or get back into it with a bang. 

Who will The Art of the Writing retreat benefit?  

  • Anybody who has longed for the time to exercise their creativity in a warm and supportive environment.
  • Experienced writers who need the space to write, with the benefit of another creative eye.
  • Beginner writers who want to try their hand at writing, with daily support and mentoring.
  • Anyone with a vague idea for a project, who needs to try it out, brainstorm or discuss it with experts.
  • And finally, those of us whose daily life has been leached of creativity or romance – and possibly both.
  • Those who would like to kickstart their writing or get back into it with a bang. 

I liked the constructive, helpful, truthful feedback on our assignments. I gained confidence in continuing with my writing. I loved the hotel. The food was excellent. The early morning swims were magical. The whole week end exceeding my expectations. Thank you. Margie Adcock

What I liked most was finally knowing through theory how to make … the reader feel the emotion of the event. Momentous! ‘Beautiful’ weekend all round! Wendy

The teachers were professional, prepared and passionate. I am inspired. Carolyn

Your writing coaches and mentors

Joanne Hichens is an author and editor, ana a writing teacher and mentor. Her crime fiction titles include Divine Justice and Sweet Paradise. Her memoir Death and the After Parties was published in 2020.

“In Death and the After Parties I write about the passing of my mother, husband, father and mother-in-law, and examine everything that happened after their deaths – the emotional frenzy, the funerals, the family strife, the fighting, the loving. I describe first-hand the shock, the grief, the mourning, the betrayals, ultimately focusing on recovering from loss.”

Jo-Anne Richards is an internationally published novelist with a PhD in Creative Writing from Wits University. Jo-Anne has published five novels: The Imagined Child, The Innocence of Roast ChickenMy Brother’s Book,  Touching the Lighthouse and Sad at the Edges.

Her first novel, The Innocence of Roast Chicken was recently rereleased as part of the prestigious Picador Africa Classics collection. When it first appeared, in 1996, it was nominated for the Impac International Dublin Literary Award and chosen as an “outstanding debut novel” by a British book chain.

Jo-Anne has published short stories in six collections and ran the Honours programme in Journalism & Media Studies at Wits University for fifteen years. She has supervised Creative Writing Masters students at Wits and UCT, and acted as examiner for both programmes.

Thank you Jo Annes for a beautiful guided journey. Thank you to all the participants who deeply enriched my life with all of your formidable stories. I learned so much. More please!  Balu Nivisen

The Art of the Memoir includes:

* Two days of tuition from two acclaimed writers 
*  Personal feedback on your writing 
* Memoir writing checklist to refer to after the weekend 
* Two nights accommodation in an en-suite room 
* Two breakfasts 
* Three course dinner on Friday and Saturday
* Pre-dinner cocktails on Friday and Saturday 
* Workshop teas and coffees
*  Karoo Sunday lunch  
* A guaranteed place on All About Writing’s popular Mentoring Programme 
Cost: From R6950 p/p sharing

The Art of Writing retreat includes:

* A daily one-on-one mentoring session with Jo-Anne Richards or Joanne Hichens
* Personal feedback on your writing
* Daily group writing discussions and readings
* Five nights luxury accommodation in an en-suite room
* Five breakfasts
* Two pre-dinner cocktails
* One lunch and five dinners
* Daily tea and coffee breaks
* A guaranteed place on All About Writing’s popular Mentoring Programme
Cost: From R14800 p/p sharing

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the malaria situation at the Victoria Falls and in Hwange?

Malaria is present in Victoria Falls and Hwange.  In June, during the winter dry season, the risk is low but participants are advised to consult their doctor on appropriate precautions and prophylaxis.

What about visas for Zimbabwe?

South African citizens do not need to pay for a visa. Other foreign nationals must purchase a visa on arrival at Victoria Falls International Airport.  Payment should be in US dollars, cash.

What's your cancellation policy?


What about tipping?

Tipping is for your own account. Tipping is customary in Zimbabwe, but by no means mandatory.  At your bed and breakfast in Victoria Falls and on the dinner cruise there will be a tip box, and money is distributed among all staff. At Nantwich Lodge, if you wish to tip then please allocate something for your guide and another amount to be distributed between all other staff. Tips should be given in cash, please, and envelopes will be provided.

Can we drive from South Africa and would it be possible to camp at Nantwich?

Yes.  Currently, the only Zimbabwean border post open to private vehicles is Kazungula, on the border with Botswana.  A PCR test, conducted withing 48 hours of arriving at the border, is mandatory, as is proof of vaccination.  PCR tests are conducted at the weighbridge in Kasane/Kazungula, near the border crossing and are processed overnight.

What about Covid tests?

Proof of a negative PCR test, with the sample taken within 48 hours of arriving in Zimbabwe, must be shown on arrival at Victoria Falls. Zimbabwe requires eligible adults to show proof of full (double dose if necessary) vaccination on arrival.

What should I bring with me for a safari?

The following items are recommended:

  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Hat/sun cream
  • At least one change of neutral-coloured clothing (green/brown/khaki/blue) as we may go on a walk during a game drive.
  • Sandals, one pair of closed shoes in case of a walk.
  • Swimming costume (the days will be sunny and warm, though the pool may be cool!)
  • Cold weather clothing (fleece/jersey, beanie, gloves, scarf – it can get VERY cold on the open game drive vehicle in the early morning and late afternoon/evening. Blankets are provided).
  • Multi-national power points are provided in the rooms.If you wish to bring adaptors, Zimbabwe uses a mix of South African (round pin), and British (square pin) power plugs.
  • US dollars cash for tipping, souvenirs, visas, national park entry fees.Smaller denominations are preferred and change is often a problem!

Do I need to pay a deposit, and when will the balance of my payment be due?


A memoir weekend and a writing retreat at the Karoo Art Hotel in Barrydale

Join us at the inspiring Karoo Art Hotel and commit yourself today to writing your story

Cost from: R6950 p/p sharing

To find out more about the Karoo memoir weekend and writing retreat in Barrydale or to  book, please contact Sue Melvill at The Karoo Art Hotel or Trish at All About Writing

Download the Art of Memoir and the Art of Writing brochure here

Find more information about the Karoo Art Hotel here

If you’d like to discuss your writing needs, please contact Jo-Anne Richards  

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