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. Turaco Farm Cottage, Magoebaskloof
Set on a small, organic blueberry farm, Blueberry Heights, in the misty mountains of Magoebaskloof, Turaco Farm Cottage is the perfect place to bring your hounds (and yourself) on a great adventure. There are lakes and waterfalls to swim in, scenic forest routes and challenging mountain trails to explore, or you can just stay on the farm and pick your own blueberries for breakfast.
A large stone fireplace is the heart of this 50-year-old cottage. Fully kitted out for self-catering, it has breathtaking views over the Ebenezer Dam, so after a full day of exploring, you can light the wood fire and watch the sun set over the water. You may even see duiker, side-striped jackal or genets starting their nocturnal wanderings. And of course the birding is fantastic with water birds and Fish Eagles at Ebenezer Dam and a host of forest species including the Knysna Turaco in the nearby indigenous forest. Your dogs will have the holiday of a lifetime at this cottage in the countryside. – Lisa Martus. www.blueberryheights.co.za
2. Lalapanzi Hotel, Makhado
Lalapanzi is a relaxed country hotel that was built in 1947. Dogs and horses are welcome and there are lots of back roads to explore. Situated near Makhado (Louis Trichardt), in the game- and cattle-breeding area of Bandelierkop, south of the Soutpansberg mountains, Lalapanzi’s rooms are whitewashed thatch rondavels encircling a garden with towering trees and dovecotes.
It’s a great base for travelling this area of mountain trails, forests and dams. You can also take a birding outing with BirdLife South Africa guide, Samson Mulaudzi. For history buffs, an Anglo-Boer War museum is housed in the Lalapanzi Hotel and boasts an impressive array of memorabilia and artefacts, and you can join a fascinating Skirmishes Route tour with Charles Leach.
The Ribolla Art Route is nearby, where you can visit sculptors, drum-makers, bead-workers and a whole village dedicated to making pots. You’ll find there is just not enough time to explore all the area has to offer. – Lisa Martus
3. Magoebaskloof Getaway, Magoebaskloof
Magoebaskloof Getaway is heaven for dogs and their owners. The beautiful mountain setting gives way to a lush valley that you can explore on foot (or paw). Follow a trail along the stream to a waterfall, walk through an indigenous forest, or try your luck at the fishing dams while your hounds enjoy a swim. There are lovely log cabins overlooking a dam, as well as 12 camping and caravan sites for visitors with obedient, well-socialised dogs.
The 64ha farm offers endless opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors but you can also enjoy other hiking trails in the area, or head up the kloof to the hamlet of Haenertsburg. With canopy tours, adventure sports, an organic cheese farm and one of the top birding sites in the country nearby, you will find the only problem is narrowing down the choices. – Lisa Martus
4. Coral Tree Camp, Magoebaskloof
Coral Tree Camp, high in the Magoebaskloof mountains, is the ultimate escape when you don’t want to leave your hounds at home. Set on a plateau with endless vistas down to the valley below, Coral Tree Camp offers touches of luxury such as a bath with a view at the ablution block, a fireplace in the communal kitchen and a plunge pool with a wooden deck for long, lazy days. All you need do is pitch a tent, park the pooches and set yourself up for sundowners underneath the dramatic Coral Tree perched on a ledge. Later, around the braai, you can gaze at a sky full of stars and listen to the cry of the bush babies in the nearby forest. This private camp (minimum 2, maximum 8) is only accessible by 4×4 but, for solitude and soul, it is worth the ride. With solar-powered lights and a donkey boiler for hot water, all your needs are catered for in a low-impact way. If you’re feeling energetic, you can take your dogs for a stroll along the river and watch the many butterflies and special birds along the route. Or amble through Elspeth Humphrey’s herb gardens for a sensory treat. Magoebaskloof has a variety of attractions for people with their pets. – Lisa Martus. www.theherbcottage.co.za
5. Limpopo – Boscobel Cottages, Magoebaskloof
A quiet country road lined with ancient oak trees and colourful azaleas leads to the giant oak that inspired the naming of Boscobel Cottages. It towers over the beautiful gardens of this charming Magoebaskloof self-catering hideaway. The property is fenced so we could relax next to the fireplace in one of the three stone and thatch cottages, while the hounds explored the nooks and crannies of their holiday home. Each cottage has a main bedroom downstairs, an upstairs loft with two single beds, and a fully equipped kitchen, patio and braai. Magoebaskloof is known for its trout-fishing waters, magnificent birding and scenic hikes. Most local pubs and eateries also welcome well-behaved dogs so we didn’t even need to forgo the burger and beer after a long day exploring outdoors. Back at Boscobel, it was easy to imagine that we were in the English countryside, with mist swirling past our windows as we drew our chairs closer to the log fire, sipped sherry and vowed to return. – Lisa Martus
The SA 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.
More pet-friendly country escapes…