What if Buster also wants to pack up and head out on the open road for a weekend away from it all? Simple. Just take him along to any of these pet-friendly country escapes.
1. Arniston Seaside Cottages, Arniston
Time Magazine and I agree. Arniston, or Waenhuiskrans as the locals know it, must be ‘One of the most magical and unspoilt spots on the Cape South Coast’. A leisurely two-hour drive from Cape
Town along the N2, Arniston lies at the end of the turn-off from Bredasdorp. And if you stay at Arniston Seaside Cottages, you won’t need to get back in your car once you’re there. The cottages sleep up to eight and are fully-equipped and serviced daily, which is an extra bonus when you are on holiday. All are within walking distance of Roman Beach, the main swimming beach, and the tidal pools where you can catch your own fish. If the fish aren’t biting, take a walk to the slipway in front of the Arniston Spa Hotel where, in season, you can bargain for fresh fish with the local fishermen from Kassiesbaai. The hotel’s pub is a great place to meet some of the locals and, for a special treat, have a meal at Wanda’s in the fishing village of Kassiesbaai. At low tide be sure to visit the incredible tidal cave for which Waenhuiskrans is named. We landed a family unit named Chateaux Louis and the Honeymoon Suite. Not quite a chateau, but certainly spacious with the open-plan kitchen and lounge extending onto a large deck with panoramic views, and an open log fireplace for chilly evenings that also doubles up as an indoor braai. And much to our old staffie Jackson’s delight, pets are welcome by prior arrangement. Never did find out how Chateau Louis came by its name.
+27 (0) 28 445 9772
Words Nita Hazell
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2. Kunje Guest Farm, Bokkeveld
Dwarfed by the Koue Bokkeveld, at the southernmost boundary of the Cederberg Wilderness Area, the Kunje fruit farm offers visitors beautiful scenery and ample to do outdoors like hiking, mountain climbing, swimming in rock pools in the Middeldeur River, mountain-bike trails, San paintings, stargazing and visiting nearby Clanwilliam. Pet-friendly accommodation is at the rustic, self-catering Geelberg Mountain Hut (although the owners also allow pets at some of the other units by arrangement). There are two rooms with 10 bunk beds each and two bathrooms with showers, while the large entertainment area has a fireplace and includes a kitchen equipped with appliances and basic utensils, crockery and cutlery. There are also indoor and outdoor braai facilities. Geelberg best suits hikers, backpackers and other groups, especially those who enjoy bringing their canine companions with them on holiday.
+27 (0) 22 921 3536; [email protected]
Words Karen Watkins
3. Bonnievale River Lodge, Breede River Valley
The verdant Valley of Cheese and Wine is blessed with the Breede River as it flows through vineyards and groves around Bonnievale. It’s the kind of scenery that makes you want to stop and stay awhile, and Bonnievale River Lodge, fronting invitingly onto a tranquil stretch of water 3km from the town centre, provides the perfect excuse. Happily it is pet friendly so the family can stay here with lots of space for kids and dogs. Set amid shady lawns and vineyards, the elegantly furnished farmhouse offers self-catering for four, while adjoining smaller suites can either be rented separately or for a group. It’s a perfect riverside retreat with individual braai areas, a swimming pool in the vineyard and fireplaces for cold nights. You can hear poultry clucking nearby (safely fenced off) and there are donkeys to amuse the children. Fishing, birding, canoeing, river cruising and wine tasting are just some of the activities in the area.
+27 (0) 81 799 2152; [email protected]
Words Marianne Heron
4. Enjo Nature Farm, Cederberg
In the middle of the Biedouw Valley, 3½ hours from Cape Town, the dog- and child-friendly Enjo Nature Farm is a wonderful escape. The scenery on the drive in, through the rugged landscape and bizarre rock formations of the northern Cederberg, is dramatic at any time of year, but if you go now you’ll be treated to the spring flower display for which the valley is justly famous. The accommodation consists of five rustic, self-catering cottages at the river. They’re nothing fancy (although you have everything you need), but owner Andrea Conrad makes a stay here really special with her warm welcome and attention to detail – like her handmade bedcovers and (on request) home cooking. You can wander through the flowers with your pooch, wallow in the river or the farm pool, hire a mountain bike or hop in the car and bumble south out of the valley and down the rough gravel road to the mission village of Wuppertal.
+27 (0)27 482 2869; [email protected]
Words Fiona McIntosh
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5. Thabile Lodge, De Rust
The scenic Red Hills were turning vermillion at sunset as we arrived to a warm welcome from resident basset hounds Ben and Basil. Thabile Lodge means Place of Happiness, and is centred around a 110-year-old homestead. We settled into one of the comfortable guest cottages before joining convivial guests for a dinner of Karoo specialites, in the communal area overlooking the pool and sauna. Individual attention is one of the plusses here. Owner Len Bornman says they like to have fun with their guests and there isn’t one night that they don’t play cards or board games with them. This four-star guest lodge is also a perfect spot from which to head out and explore the Klein Karoo.
+27 (0) 44 251 6116
Words Marianne Heron
6. Knysna Terrace Boutique Guesthouse, Knysna
Knysna Terrace is known as the White House of Knysna – a sparkling beacon beckoning from across the bay. Owner-manager, Maureen Barnard is a doctor of psychology who knows exactly what people and pets need in order to feel looked after and at home. As part of this, if you are travelling solo, with or without your pet, there is no ‘singles’ fee. Seven captivating suites overlook Knysna Lagoon on Old Cape Road, while the back section of the property has been transformed into a self-catering studio for people travelling with their pets. It leads onto a compact patio with braai facilities and a stretch of grass. The entire area is enclosed to guard against escapee pets (or children). Fresh farm milk and honey can be purchased from Knysna Terrace’s kitchen and Maureen believes in serving locally produced food. A coffee shop is set to open there in November. Nicky Enslin, formerly of Dwarsvlei Country House in Middelburg, Karoo, will be the chef and manager, and says pet treats will definitely be on the menu.
+27 (0) 44 382 1270; +27 (0) 82 460 2671; [email protected]
Words Heather Dugmore
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7. Red Stone Hills, Between Oudtshoorn and Calitzdorp
Red Stone is situated between Oudtshoorn and Calitzdorp in the foothills of the Swartberg mountains. As you leave the R62 towards the farm, you enter a landscape of red rocks and lush vegetation. The road that meanders through this beautiful scenery creates the anticipation of a holiday away from it all, and that’s exactly what we got. The comfy, spotless cottages are far from each other, and the farm is frequently visited by experts in insects, birds, plants and geology, who all contribute to the fascinating information available to guests. There are lovely walks, a sparkling swimming pool, and you can ride the farm horses. Pets are more than welcome in the cottages (except the bedrooms) as long as they’re friendly and don’t chase the resident ostriches.
+27 (0) 72 901 5654
Words Petra Vandecasteele
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8. Lilly Cottage, Porterville
Getting to Lilly Cottage is an adventure in itself; the road winding up the mountain pass overlooking Porterville is to be negotiated with caution. It’s tarred, though, so safe for average cars and drivers. The setting on Pampoen Fontein farm is spectacular, peaceful and unspoiled. There is a sprinkling of other holiday cottages dotted around the farm, each built in a different style, but Lilly Cottage was our choice. It’s a rustic little timber house on stilts overlooking a small dam, where we watched antelope come to drink and snack on water lilies. We spent hours at the outdoor braai area under a pergola, and sunned ourselves on the north-facing deck with rocky views. Evenings were cosy in front of the fireplace. Downstairs there is a double room and upstairs a twin room in the attic – both served by the downstairs bathroom. All creature comforts are there and the cottage surrounds are fenced so Jock will be safe. Take along lots of firewood and your walking shoes so you can explore.
+27 (0) 82 564 5500; [email protected]
Words Keri Harvey
9. Good Hope Farm, Robertson
One of the problems with owning a pet is that I cannot just spontaneously head out of town for the weekend. So pet-friendly places are always on my radar. A recent discovery was the Good Hope Farm on the slopes of the Riviersonderend Mountains, in the Robertson Valley. It’s clear as you drive in that owners Taryn and Tienie love animals. Chickens cluck around the farmyard, magnificent thoroughbred racehorses gaze at you from the stables and Tienie’s shadow, Seun, the resident English setter, soon comes to introduce himself to guests, particularly tail-wagging ones.
The mountain cottages, at the base of a lovely kloof with a waterfall and Bushman paintings, have their own lapa and pool area. They are some distance from the farm buildings, and are generally the preferred location for dog owners. However, pets are welcome at the cottages overlooking the dam if they do not chase the chickens, sheep and other locals. The weekend before we stayed there, Good Hope hosted a wedding at which the couple’s best man was their Border collie. Need I say more?
+27 (0) 23 004 0504; [email protected]
Words Fiona McIntosh
10. Ravenna Mountain Retreat, Route 62
Ravenna Mountain Retreat is situated on a fruit farm 28km from Montagu on Route 62 towards Barrydale. It is home to photographer Laresa Perlman, a passionate animal lover, and a stay at Ravenna is a good opportunity to have some beautiful photographs taken of you and your pets. The farm offers various routes (one leading to a pretty waterfall) for hiking, walking and mountain biking, and there is a dam that is great to swim in. There are eight self-catering (bed and breakfast optional) cottages with a fireplace, of which some are available to guests with pets (up to two). But only one family with pets is allowed per weekend, as there are already four dogs on the farm. Ducks, cats, sheep, birds and chickens are all part of the country experience, and your pet must be friendly and well trained. Ravenna charges a fee of R60 per animal per day and requests that you bring your own bedding for your dogs.
+27 (0) 23 614 1492; +27 (0) 79 497 3372; [email protected]
Words Petra Vandecasteele
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11. Two Oaks, Somerset West
If you’re looking for a good base in the greater Cape Town area, Somerset West fits the bill. Like a country village in parts, it’s backed by towering mountains and close to both beach and the Winelands. It’s also 15 minutes from Cape Town airport and an easy, half-hour drive from the Mother City. I’ve stayed a couple of times at the centrally located Two Oaks B&B, which accepts well-behaved small pets. The red-brick buildings looked unprepossessing when we first pulled up, but host Martin Ries welcomed us warmly. And once over the threshold we entered a lovely garden with plenty of places to sit and read, or dine – there are braai facilities and a shaded area with tables and chairs. Martin’s wife, Marianne, is an interior decorator and her eye for style is apparent in the rustic chic of the en-suite rooms/suites. All are interestingly furnished and decorated and there’s quality linen and niceties like soft fluffy towels. Half of the dozen units are fully equipped for self-catering while the others have microwaves, crockery and cutlery. A hearty breakfast is offered in the farmhouse-style dining room, and the fully licensed Oak Leaf Coffee Shop on site is open for breakfast and lunch every day except Sunday.
Words Fiona McIntosh
12. Ambleside Cottage, Stanford
We – and our best friend Lady – were looking to escape the madding crowd and were delighted to find Ambleside Cottage, the perfect country getaway. Our self-catering cottage had a comfortable, airy bedroom with queen-size bed, large bathroom and open-plan kitchen with dining area, and was set in a large, picturesque garden. Our warm-hearted hostess Elsa lives on the property and is available to help with anything. A private entrance, safe parking, spacious veranda and friendly dogs added to our few carefree days. Although in the peaceful part of town – next to the historic Mill Stream – first-class restaurants, shops and the river were all close by. Being adventurous travellers, we enjoyed exploring the Overberg region with a variety of activities, from wine tasting along
the renowned Hemel-en-Aarde wine route, as well as gin and craft-beer tastings in the district. There’s also hiking, and whale watching (in season). It’s a place you could call home. Pets are welcome by prior arrangement.
+27 (0) 72 274 4005; [email protected]
Words Olivia Schaffer
13. Witkrans Farm, Stanford
If you fancy escaping to the hills with your pets, Witkrans farm near Stanford is just the ticket. The three resident pooches welcome other well-behaved, socialised dogs but there’s lots of wildlife on the property – including a troop of baboons – so visiting canines must not be chasers. Accommodation is in two fully equipped cottages; Buchu sleeps four and Cone Bush Cottage sleeps six. There’s another quaint and pet-friendly cottage on the neighbouring farm, Windheuvel, which sleeps four. You can hike and mountain bike in the area, but this is very much a farmstay with free-range eggs, freshly baked farm bread, jams and home-made wine for sale. Tree houses, a jungle gym, trampoline, a swimming dam with boats, and a ‘zoo’ of rabbits, guinea pigs and chickens that children can pet, make it an equally good child-friendly escape. And if you fancy arriving by horse, you can put your steed into the field to graze for the length of your stay.
+27 (0) 82 464 5115; [email protected]
Words Fiona McIntosh
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14. Roam Private Game Reserve, Swartberg
It’s not every day that a private game reserve opens its doors to pets, which is why Roam Private Game Reserve is such a treat. The 5 000-hectare reserve at the foot of the Swartberg mountains in the Great Karoo has a safari lodge and tented camp along with the pet-friendly Manor House. Spacious and luxurious, with plenty of room inside and out for happy hounds, the self-catering Manor House has three large en suite bedrooms, an open-plan kitchen and lounge with fireplace. It’s expansive stoep has a braai and firepit, and splendid views across the Karoo plains, and the pool is bliss in the heat. Set as it is in a quiet, fenced-off corner of the reserve away from its resident cheetah brothers and other large game, your pets can be off leads. You also have access to walking and mountain-biking trails (pets on leads in demarcated areas only). The game drives, interpretative bush walk and the rather daunting excursion of tracking cheetahs on foot – which was
thrilling, just a tad scary – are some of the activities at Roam Private Game Reserve.
+27 (0) 21 712 5284/5; [email protected]
Words Bronwyn Mulrooney
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15. Kloofzicht Estate, Tulbagh
Kloofzicht Estate, just outside the historic Winelands town of Tulbagh, offers a range of farmhouse-style accommodation in a magnificent mountain setting. Its extensive grounds and dams make it a favourite among dog owners. There are two one-bedroom cottages and an open-plan loft above the wine cellar, but first prize is to get a group together and book the intriguingly designed and decorated five-bedroom main house. With its big farmhouse kitchen and ample entertainment areas both outdoors and in, it’s a fabulous place to reconnect with family and friends (bring the kids) or to throw a party. It’s also a popular wedding venue for this reason. All the bedrooms have balconies and/or private terraces should you want to escape the crowd and there’s a huge swimming pool, fishing, a boat on the big dam and an array of nearby hiking and mountain biking trails for more active types. Pretty Tulbagh is a great place to wander around or to grab a bite and don’t miss out on a tour of the valley’s picturesque wine and extra-virgin olive oil estates.
+27 (0) 23 230 1742; [email protected]
Words Fiona McIntosh
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16. Cummings Guest House, Wellington
Welcomed by two well-behaved Chows (who greet your socialised pets too), we claimed the last available en-suite B&B room. Comfortable and with coffee and rusks and a well-stocked mini bar on tap, our room felt like home away from home. The establishment consists of two former private houses, the lush gardens of which have been combined to form a beautiful space, and there is off-street parking. One house has B&B suites and the other, gorgeous self-catering suites with braai facilities and outdoor dining. All rooms have aircon, DStv and Wi-Fi. Cummings is just off the main street of town on the Bain’s Kloof side, but it’s quiet. Even though the house was full while we were there, it never felt crowded and we hardly saw any other guests. We enjoyed the hospitable atmosphere and the staff was friendly and professional. Cummings is an ideal base from which to explore the area, fuelled by a delicious breakfast. Dinners available on request.
+27 (0) 21 873 3474; [email protected]
Words Keri Harvey
17. !Khwa ttu, Yzerfontein
The first time we stayed at !Khwa ttu, the San Centre up the West Coast, it was in the aptly named Bush House tucked away in an isolated spot in the veld surrounded by nature. The peace and
quiet of evenings on the stoep around a braai fire was matchless. A dog at the feet would have made it heaven. The second time, a group of us were in the Guest House up near the Visitor’s Centre,
on the crest of a rise with a sweeping view of the wild landscape. On a more recent visit, we stopped for lunch at the old stone restaurant and to visit the carefully curated and designed new Heritage Centre, a combination of three buildings telling the San story. At the entrance and in the restaurant gardens were small watering holes with a tiny tap and a dog statue indicating where to
slake your pet’s thirst. So like all other creatures at this soul- and spirit-restoring centre, the name of which means ‘water pan’ in the extinct |Xam language, your Rover is also welcome. Provided,
of course, that he/she is well behaved and on leash if you go walking on the indigenous plant trails, as there are plenty of other animals – eland, springbok, zebra, blue wildebeest, ostrich – on the
property. Activities here include e-biking, and one of the twice-daily guided tours that give you an insight into the life, culture, heritage, knowledge and skills of the San people. There’s also a five-tent Bush Camp for the more adventurous.
+27 (0) 22 492 2998
Words Nancy Richards
The South African Pet-friendly Directory is an invaluable guide to pet-friendly venues. Accommodation, as well as places such as cafés, pubs, markets, malls and hiking trails are included. The directory also supplies a wealth of info about services such as doggie daycare and training, kennels and catteries, vets and groomers, even pet-friendly car hire.