This story was updated on 9 July 2019.
Pack up the kids and the dogs, and head for the hills. We’ve found some ideal country havens you can enjoy with the whole family.
1. Lemonwood, Dargle
There can’t be a dog on the planet who wouldn’t give up his best bone in exchange for a holiday at Lemonwood. Not that he’d have a hard time persuading his people to take him there. Three lovely self-catering cottages, each named after local and frequently seen residents – dassie, samango, serval – are set at the base of an extensive mistbelt forest that echoes with the calls of more than 200 birds. Trails cater for all fitness levels – bulldogs and lookalike owners, for example, could manage the shortest path, while the more energetic who conquer the mountain emerge from the trees to the reward of an immense wildflower-studded grassland and awe-inspiring views all the way to the Drakensberg. At night, the peace is as immense as the starry heavens. Don’t forget Jock’s leash: wildlife abounds. Lemonwood is situated 10 kilometres along the Dargle/Impendle road and is about 20 minutes from Howick.
+27 (0) 82 052 6072
2. Satori Farm, Dargle
In the Southern Drakensberg overlooking the Inhlasane Mountain, Satori’s picturesque vistas that are rolled out before you simply take your breath away. The lodge, perched on the mountain top, was constructed by the owners with hay bales and thatch – an arduous but rewarding task, they admit. The grass was grown, harvested and baled on the farm. Spring water, sourced from the underground stream, feeds the lodge and the sun provides power – no televisions here. Accommodation comprises four double bedrooms, a loft room and a communal, open-plan lounge and kitchen with a fireplace that was built to impress – and it does. Delicious, healthy, country-style meals are prepared by the hosts from homegrown ingredients. This destination, with a river running through it, provides a serene space for contemplation, as do the empowering retreats conducted here. An added bonus is that Satori is pet friendly.
+27 (0) 82 551 7402; [email protected]
Words Olivia Schaffer
3. Manor House & Goose Cottage, Glencoe
Historic working farm, big skies, unspoilt bushveld – the epitome of a country escape. The bonus, Jock gets to go too. Wasbank Farm, central to the Battlefields and 10km from Glencoe, has been in the same family since 1840. The spacious 121-year-old Manor House – one of a few farmhouses in northern KwaZulu-Natal not burned down in the Anglo-Boer War – and quaint Goose Cottage have been modernised and are fully equipped for self-catering. Artefacts in both attest to the history of the farm and surrounding region. Fences prevent Jock from enjoying close encounters with geese and cattle, while expansive lawns give him and the children space to romp. Everyone can burn off excess energy by swimming in the mountain stream or hiking through the bushveld. En route, you’re likely to come across several species of antelope as Wasbank forms a substantial part of the Indumeni Conservancy.
Words Andrea Abbott
4. Clearwater Café, Lower South Coast
Clearwater Café is so far from the main drag you’d never stumble upon it by chance but would need a bloodhound to sniff it out. This pet-friendly bistro is at the end of a farm road, 7km inland from Port Edward and about as far south as you can go in eastern KZN before falling into the Umtamvuna River Gorge. And it’s worth the journey. Part of the Clearwater MTB Trail Centre, the café is a popular breakfast and lunch venue for cyclists and walkers, including those with bloodhound and other pooches in tow. It’s perfect for couch potatoes too. What can be more relaxing than sitting with your best friend in the dappled shade beneath indigenous trees and partaking of honest-to-goodness, modestly priced country fare while gazing upon the dramatic scenery of the Umtamvuna Nature Reserve? No dog to accompany you? Never mind: the resident cat might honour you by sitting at your table.
Words Andrea Abbott
5. Crab Apple Cottages, Dargle
Here is where you throw off your city cloak and allow nature to surround you with tranquillity. And, by arrangement, you can take your best friend, too. There are three thatched, comfortable, self-catering cottages, all with underfloor heating to beat the chill of Midlands winters. They are kitted out with queen-size beds, Victorian bathtubs, spacious living areas with sleeper couches, sundecks and freshly laundered dog beds. There are cast-iron stoves serving as fireplaces in the Robin and the Wood Owl cottages and a large Spanish-style fireplace in Crowned Eagle Cottage. We booked Robin Cottage for its additional loft that sleeps two. The property is set on the edge of the Dargle Valley Conservancy, and in spring the air is full of the fragrance of the rose garden. Indigenous trees, bird song, insects and wildlife great but small, as well as the resident cats, dogs, horses and chickens are all waiting to welcome you and your furry or feathered friend.
+27 (0) 82 337 2025; +27 (0) 82 787 0797; [email protected]
Words Olivia Schaffer
6. Toad Hall Cottages, Caversham
It’s usually at holiday times that your pets pose a problem but not so thanks to Toad Hall Cottages and owners Dave and Bette Eaton. Here we found tastefully furnished, self-catering cottages that provide superb accommodation in the heart of the Midlands Meander. Four suitably-appointed cottages have private verandas we where we soaked up the vistas. If you’re looking for peace and tranquillity, then sit back and relax. But if you’re on an adventure-seeking mission you’re also in the right place. Apart from the celebrated art-and-craft route and renowned restaurants, there’s horse riding, trout fishing, hiking, mountain biking and more in the district. Toad Hall Cottages is a place where you can be as busy or as ‘unbusy’ as you please.
+27 (0) 33 234 4558; +27 (0) 76 093 0857; [email protected]
Words Olivia Schaffer
The South African Petfriendly 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. R250
Looking for more pet-friendly country escapes?
- Pet-friendly Places in the North West
- Pet-friendly Places in Limpopo
- Pet-friendly Places in the Free State
- Pet-friendly Places in Mpumalanga