This story was updated on 5 April 2019.
Tired of listening to noisy car engines, police sirens and smoggy evenings? Have a look at our pick of getaways that offer you a taste of life on the farm.
1. Bushmanspad Estate, Bonnievale
We arrived at Bushmanspad Estate, on the R60 between Swellendam and Ashton, to a welcome of wagging tails from Whiskey the Border Collie and Pinot, a splendid blend of a dog. A Piet-my-vrou confirmed that summer had arrived. From our self-catering cottage,
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I fancied I could hear the surrounding vines growing as we took in the magnificent view of the Robertson Valley area; country life at its best. Five well-appointed, comfortable cottages are situated right under the Langeberg range. The vista from the braai, as a sunset turned the world to gold, proved hard to beat.
All the cottages were occupied by our group of friends. Activities included many kilometres of off-road and country-road biking, games on the rolling lawns, exploring the farm, hiking through the fynbos and down to the dam for a swim, birdwatching and pottering around the pretty little dorp of Bonnievale with its splendid roses and bougainvillea hedges.
A wine tasting was held beside the cellar, where a salmon-pink bougainvillea echoed the colour of that crisp, refreshing summer drink I so enjoy.
+27 (0) 23 616 2961; [email protected]
Words Liz McKenzie
2. Galileo Guest Farm, Elgin
Galileo is a working apple and pear farm in the fertile Elgin Valley just 40 minutes from Cape Town, but it feels far more isolated.
Lisa Beaumont welcomed us warmly and treated the family to a tour of the farm, pointing out the prolific birdlife and filling us in on happenings in the valley. Our home from home for the weekend was Fish Eagle Lodge, one of six beautifully appointed self-catering cottages each with its own dam.
With two en-suite bedrooms, a modern kitchen, braai area and even a fireplace for chilly winter evenings, there is ample space for a family of four.
What bliss to wake up to the sound of birds and ducks instead of roaring traffic. And we were lucky enough to happen upon an inquisitive mongoose sneaking away just before dawn. Of all of us it was perhaps Jackson the Staffie who enjoyed his newfound freedom the most and, with no gates or walls to restrict his movements, he was in his element exploring the farm and swimming in the dam. But most of the time he was content to join us on the wooden deck, soaking up the peace and quiet.
An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but a visit to an apple farm is food for the soul.
+27 (0) 21 849 8692
Words Lizanne Olivier
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3. Joosteswerwe Guest Farm, Carnarvon
The campsite and cottage is on the road between Vosburg and Carnarvon, which was tarred only three years ago, and gives a view into a farm lifestyle that has been rather off limits to the average person driving a city car.
Turn off the tar road and take a 14km dirt road to this secluded jewel, where life on this working Dorper sheep farm beckons you to ponder leaving the city for good.
Our first activity was a splash in the farm dam to wash away the Karoo heat. Next a sunset drive with farmer Martin Smit to see the veld dispel the myth that the Karoo is arid and showed us the abundant plant and animal life in the Karoo. Martin is a founding member of Karoo Lamb of Origin. Meat sold under this label not only comes from a specific area, but must be from a farm that holds five specific Karoo bushes as grazing for sheep, giving that special Karoo lamb taste.
Martin is also a walking encyclopaedia of the area’s history and scenic country roads to nearby towns – a boon for those with time to take roads less travelled. Be sure to ask about Oom Plaas spices produced from mixtures of salt sourced from local pans and Karoo herbs.
+27 (0) 78 606 0706
Words Gerhard Uys
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4. Eensgevonden Vineyard Cottages, Rawsonville
Farmstay hosts who take such pleasure and pride in showing visitors around is very special.
Our hosts Sally and Doug McDermott were no exception; Doug was as exuberant as Oscar, his Jack Russell. Doug enthusiastically showed us his new duck pond and pointed out the path that leads to the crystal-clear mountain rock pool, perfect for a hot summer day. He encouraged us to follow the hiking trails that meander through the fynbos over the 400 hectares of mountain nature reserve, while Sally and Taffy the Ridgeback graciously led us to one of the three white-washed, Cape-style, self-catering cottages.
We enjoyed sundowners while taking in the view that overlooks the vineyards and the old farmhouse, a national monument dating back to the 1720s. As the mountains surrounding the Breede River Valley turned deep lilac, we listened to the owls and nightjars, a welcome change from television and radio, and soaked up the peace and tranquillity of the countryside.
Find this gem 10 kilometres from Rawsonville, near Brandvlei Dam.
+27 (0) 23 349 1490; +27 (0) 82 829 8923; [email protected]
Words Liz McKenzie
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5. Wolvekraal, Prince Albert
The guest cottages are on a 4 000ha working Dorper sheep farm and offer splendid views of the Swartberg Mountains, and easy access to Prince Albert.
Take lengthy hikes on the farm and explore the surrounding koppies, gaze at stars unspoilt by city lights, or visit the nearby town that offers great eateries and a handful of historical sites, a museum, cultural tours, a donkey sanctuary and nursery with local Karoo plants. There’s even a cinema named The Showroom, where you can catch a movie, a live show or simply order a cocktail and mingle with locals.
Be sure to take the spectacular untarred Swartberg Pass to Oudtshoorn for views of the Swartberg mountains. Just be warned that, although the pass is 23km, it takes more than an hour to drive. It is, however, doable with a normal vehicle.
Wolwekraal owner Berlinda Nel supplies braaibroodjies (braai toasties) and lamb packs on order, so there is no need to take along any of your own grub. – Gerhard Uys
+27 (0) 72 177 0844; [email protected]
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