Rural stillness in the Langkloof
The Langkloof is a fruit-growing region between the Tsitsikamma and Kouga mountains. It might be just inland from Plett and Storms River, but it’s a world away from the tourist traps of the Garden Route. Here are six farm stays to clear your head.
Stay on a farm deep in the mountains of the Langkloof
Nguni Land was never intended to be a guest farm, but rather a place of natural retreat for owners Andre and Maritha Hamman who purchased the place in 2006. The farm is about 950 ha in size and goes high up into the Suuranys Mountains. When Andre realised the tourism potential of the farm, he set to work renovating five cottages, paying homage to the style in which they were originally built. The cottages are more than 100 years old, with beautiful wooden floorboards and yellowwood and stinkwood furniture. There are no water pumps on the farm – all the water comes naturally from the kloof above the farm. The Hammans have done an incredible job of removing masses of black wattle over the years, and the result is that Nguni Land is one of the most ecologically sound farms in the Langkloof. The Krom River runs through the property and so do the narrow-gauge tracks for the Apple Express steam train, which once ran from Port Elizabeth to Loerie Station in the Langkloof. Sadly, the train hasn’t been operational since 2011 and despite ongoing rumours of its resurrection, it’s not likely to be running again any time soon. Activities: Hiking or running, birdwatching, swimming in the Krom River. Facilities: Five self-catering cottages, sleeping between two and six people. Each cottage has a kitchen with a gas stove, and a braai area. Rates: From R750 for two people sharing, plus R200 per extra person, depending on the cottage. Pet-friendly? No. Cellphone reception? Good. Where? Entrance off the R62, about 3 km from Kareedouw towards Joubertina. Contact: 042 288 0154; nguniland.co.za
This farm boasts 5 km of Kouga River frontage, with at least five swimming spots and even a few beaches. Located 13 km into the Kouga Mountains near Joubertina, Semane offers lots of accommodation options. It’s a great option for a big group – you can book the whole place and have it all to yourselves. Semane is an eco-friendly farm. You can help yourself to fresh produce from the vegetable gardens and all firewood comes from alien vegetation that owners Tony Mbewu and Priscilla Reddy have cleared over the past 14 years. The lodge is named after their daughter: “Semane” is seTswana for “Queen Bee”. The 350 ha farm is great for a small wedding or if you simply want to Zen out in the wilderness for a few days. It’s down-to-earth and comfy – just the way we like it! Activities: Hiking, birdwatching, swimming in the river, bass fishing, stargazing. Facilities: The main house sleeps up to 15, and then there are two cottages each sleeping four, plus five twin rooms in the “long house”. These rooms share a communal bathroom and kitchen. There are 35 beds in total. All accommodation is self-catering. Rates: Main house from R325 per adult (R650 minimum; two people); it becomes cheaper the more people there are. Cottages from R500 for two adults, plus R250 per extra person; twin rooms from R350 for two adults. Pet-friendly? No. Cellphone reception? None. Where? Take the Onder-Kouga turn-off just outside Joubertina in the direction of Uniondale. Drive into the Kouga Mountains for 13,5 km along this gravel road until you see the sign for the farm on the left. Contact: semanelodge.co.za; lekkeslaap.co.za (bookings) or travelground.com
This rustic guest farm is deep in the Kouga Mountains along a very slow gravel road. Owner Nico Ferreira’s family has been living in these mountains for two centuries. These days he and his wife Melodie farm with sheep and cattle, harvest wild honey bush for tea and grow apricots, although the current drought has diminished their fruit yield. The farm has a small river running through it – home to rare indigenous fish like Cape galaxia and red-wing minnow – and the cottages are on the banks of this river. There’s significant distance between each cottage so privacy and quietness are guaranteed. The farm is enormous (3 000 ha) and if you have a 4x4 you can explore the rocky ridges where giant aloes lord over the fynbos. Activities: 4x4 trail, abseiling and rock climbing, hiking, swimming in the river, fishing and kloofing. Facilities: The renovated old farmhouse called Oom Carl se Huis has three bedrooms, plus an open-plan living room, a kitchen, two bathrooms and a nice stoep. Each bedroom has a double bed and either a bunk bed or two single beds, so the house can sleep 12 in total. There are also two chalets – River and Heuningkrans – each with two bedrooms, sleeping up to five. The chalets are simply furnished, but they have all the basics: a fridge, a stove, a shower, bedding and a braai place. The Bush Camp is a private campsite with a flush toilet, a washing-up area and a gas geyser for hot showers. It can accommodate up to 15 people and is booked out in its entirety. There’s also a general campsite with 10 stands and all the necessities like flush toilets, hot showers, power points, a braai lapa and picnic tables. Nearby, there’s even a rustic caravan that sleeps four. Firewood is available from an honesty box near the campsite. Rates: Oom Carl se Huis from R300 for two people; R200 per person for three or more. Chalets from R600 per night. Camping R100 per person. Bush Camp from R300 per night. Caravan R160 per person. Pet-friendly? Pets are allowed at certain accommodation options. Check with Nico or Melodie. Cellphone reception? None. Where? Take the Onder-Kouga turn-off just outside Joubertina in the direction of Uniondale. Drive into the Kouga Mountains for 28 km along this gravel road and then follow the signs. Contact: 042 273 9903 (Melodie); firstname.lastname@example.org
Louterwater Landgoed is a 2 000 ha apple and pear farm just outside the settlement of Louterwater. Cornelis and Janine Muller are at the helm of this busy operation. There are two types of accommodation on offer: rustic log cabins and neat cottages with DStv. Our pick? The cabins. They’re further away from the main farm at the foot of the Tsitsikamma Mountains and there’s a little river nearby with ample grass for cricket and braaiing. If you happen to visit during November, take part in the annual potjie competition. Activities: Bass fishing, swimming, hiking and mountain biking. Facilities: The guest cottages are good if you’re looking for some luxury. B&B or self-catering options are available; dinner can be supplied at R90 extra. One cottage sleeps two, the other sleeps four. The four log cabins are next to the river. Each has two bunk beds, sleeping four in total (bring your own bedding). There’s a communal bathroom with hot showers, plus a communal braai area and kitchen. Camping is permitted at the same venue. Rates: Cottages R330 per person B&B; R270 selfcatering. Log cabin R400 per night. Camping R40 per person. Pet-friendly? Pets are allowed at the log cabins, but not at the cottages. Cellphone reception? Only at the cottages. Where? The farm is just off the R62, between Joubertina and Misgund. Contact: 042 272 1724 (Janine); email@example.com
Grootnek Guest Farm
The original farmhouse at Grootnek was built more than 100 years ago. It’s a relatively small farm – only about 48 ha in total – and the main crop is fruit: pears, peaches and plums. The farm is at the base of a little koppie, with Formosa Peak looming in the distance. The cottages are almost as old as the farmhouse and they’ve been renovated with comfort in mind. There’s no electricity, but you’ll find everything else you need for a self-catering holiday. Each cottage also has its own splash pool. Owner Gawie le Roux’s wife Erika makes fig preserve and jams from the local fruit, and sells her produce at Joub’s in Joubertina. Activities: Bass fishing, hiking, birdwatching, fruit picking (December to March), swimming and 4x4 trails. Facilities: There are three cottages: Weskus and Karoo each sleep six (double bed, two singles and a sleeper couch) and Bosveld sleeps four (double bed and a sleeper couch). Each cottage has a solar system for lights and to charge your phone, plus a kitchen with a gas stove and fridge, and a bathroom with a gas geyser. Rates: From R200 per adult and R100 per child (minimum R400 per cottage per night). Pet-friendly? Yes. Cellphone reception? Good. Where? Look for the turn-off on the R62 just before Krakeel on the Joubertina side. Follow the signs for about 4,5 km, the farm is well signposted. Contact: 084 500 0706 (Erika); grootnekguestfarm.co.za
Afsaal Guest Farm
Afsaal is a beautiful spot in Haarlem – a historic agricultural village along the R62. Guests can stay in one of two restored cottages, fixed up by owners Gary and Ronalee Olivier who moved here from Somerset West nine years ago. Afsaal is not really a farm – it’s a 9 ha smallholding bordering the Groot River – and it’s lush and green. There are pigs, donkeys, chickens, ducks, vegetable gardens oozing goodness and scores of happy sunbirds and sugarbirds darting about. If you’re looking for a meal, Ronalee will happily organise you a Karoo-style feast upon request (R100 – R120 per person). You’ll also have fresh milk in your fridge from neighbour Sheila Earle’s Jersey cows. Activities: Birdwatching, petting the farm animals, tractor rides through Haarlem, fynbos tours, cycling, hiking and stargazing. Facilities: There are two cottages: Poshuis sleeps four (one double bedroom with a sleeper couch for the kids) and Jakkelshuis sleeps eight (two double bedrooms, a sleeper couch and a separate flat with a double bed). Both cottages have en suite bathrooms and scenic verandas, with everything you need for a self-catering holiday. From R250 per person. Yes, by prior arrangement. Good. Upper Church Street, Haarlem 044 763 1407; 072 309 6066; afsaal.net
Rates: Pet-friendly? Cellphone reception? Where? Contact:
Joubertina towards Uniondale. Contact: 042 273 1516
Die Plaaswerf Outside there’s a big garden filled with old tractors for the kids; inside there’s a huge fireplace and a comfy wooden bar counter. The lamb chops (R82) are juicy and delicious. Where? Next to the R62, just outside Kareedouw towards Uniondale. Contact: 042 288 0262 Altelekker Sip an ice-cold beer or order a light lunch like roosterkoek with cheese and jam (R15). You can even get a haircut in this eclectic coffee shop. Where? 15 Van Riebeeck Street, Kareedouw Contact: 042 288 0748
The Sweaty Dutchman Their specialty is pancakes, both sweet and savoury. Try the cherry compote, ice cream and whipped cream pancake (R52). Where? Next to the R62 in Kareedouw. Contact: 042 288 0056
Joub’s There are a few options here: Sit down for a meal at Diner R62, browse the farm-stall goodies at the Appelkas or buy wine from Winery R62. Where? Next to the R62 in Joubertina. Contact: 042 273 1031
1 AU NATUREL. The renovated cottages at Nguni Land are neat, comfortable and spacious.
RIVER LIFE (below). Semane Lodge has a spectacular, isolated location in the Kouga Mountains, next to the Kouga River. Pack a picnic and spend the morning exploring the 5 km of private river frontage, swimming in the many pools (right).
QUIET TIME. Kouga Wilderness lives up to its name, tucked away in an ancient, rugged landscape. There are lots of accommodation options on the farm, including two wooden chalets like the one above. The chalets are basic, but they’re private and spacious with access to their own swimming spots.
FARM FRESH (above). This is one of the log cabins at Louterwater Landgoed. It’s the “rustic” option – guests can also stay in a more luxurious cottage. There are a number of hiking trails on the farm for all fitness levels (below).
MAKE SOME FRIENDS (above right). The comfortable cottages at Grootnek Guest Farm are simple and off the grid. Your kids will love the resident donkeys Charlie and Sam. If you visit during harvest season, you’ll be allowed to pick some fruit for yourself.