IT’S CLOSE TO CAPE TOWN, FAMOUS FOR SPECTACULAR SCENERY AND OFFERS HEAVENLY RIVER SWIMMING. HERE’S OUR CHOICE OF WONDERFUL BOLTHOLES ON OR NEAR THIS BOLAND MOUNTAIN PASS
HOW TripAdvisor lists accommodation rated by guests, but as much as we love peer reviews, they don’t offer a comparative voice – so how do we know No. 1 is really the best? Pippa de Bruyn, who has reviewed accommodation for 18 years for the likes of Frommer’s and The Telegraph, scours TripAdvisor and other online sites when researching a destination. For Bainskloof, she created a longlist of 24 to inspect. The following made the cut.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
• A gorgeous dinky farm cottage (pg 40) • A house and garden for dog lovers (pg 40) • Cottages in a nature reserve (pg 41) • Best value in the valley – with hot tub (pg 41) • Designer luxury with catered meals (pg 42) • A romantic hideaway with a view (pg 42) • A remote, rustic stone cottage (pg 43) • River swims and space to play (pg 43)
WHAT I FOUND ABOUT ACCOMMODATION HERE
• Tourism is still in relative infancy in this area, with an authentic farming community that has renovated or built a few cottages to cater for wedding venues such as Olive Rock. • Self-catering dominated here so TripAdvisor, which hardly features self-catering, is not much help. Check out Wolseley ( wolseleytourism.co.za), the closest town (20 minutes) or, for the full spectrum of options in the area, including the beautiful Slanghoek valley, visit breedekloof.com and study options under Wolseley, Slanghoek and R43; for peer reviews, see booking.com. • There is limited stock on the actual Witte River, the crystal-clear stream that runs through Bainskloof’s Limietberg Nature Reserve (and one of the main reasons to visit). I looked further afield, at the north-eastern end of the pass, particularly properties on the Breede River en route to Wolseley but also in the Breedekloof Valley as a whole. • Properties on the Breede, close to the Witte, still had water in midsummer but elsewhere it dries up in November and only starts to flow with the rains (roughly from April). Enquire about river levels when you book, if this is important. The Witte River flows all year round, and can become a raging torrent in winter. • There are plenty of truly fabulous dog-friendly options.