Overnight near the Gariep Dam or relax next to the Klein River in Stanford.
MORNING GLORY COTTAGES, GARIEP DAM hrow a dart at the middle of South Africa and you’ll probably hit the Gariep Dam – a popular and sensible overnight spot if you’re travelling from Gauteng to the beaches of the Eastern or Western Cape this summer. These cottages are just south of the dam, next to the R58 about 9 km west of Venterstad. You might have driven past before and noticed the small statue of a horse at the farm entrance: It’s a horse stud, but they also breed Nguni cattle, merino sheep and indigenous veld goats. The farm is owned by Schalk and Christa van der Walt and their daughter Marené manages the cottages. She’s also a great cook: Book beforehand for a three-course dinner (R220 per person) and you’ll eat like a king. When I last visited, I had a lamb shank that I still dream about sometimes. Many of Marené’s dishes are made using family recipes and almost everything comes from the veld or from the vegetable garden and fruit orchards. You can also order a picnic basket, a braai pack (R120 per person) or breakfast (R100 per person). Meals for kids younger than 12 are cheaper. You can walk on the farm or bring your mountain bike and explore. No pets allowed. Facilities: Two fully equipped self-catering cottages: Lavender (four adults, one child) and The Farm Cottage (four adults, two children). Four big en suite double rooms: Angelica, Borage, Cottonwood and Chamomile (there’s a sleeper couch for a child in Angelica and Cottonwood). There’s a restaurant, a bar area, braai facilities overlooking the Karoo plains, and a small pool when the sun gets too hot. Rates: Lavender R1 400 per unit; Farm Cottage R1 450. Angelica, Borage, Cottonwood and Chamomile: R450 per person sharing. Discounts for children aged 3 – 11. Contact: 051 654 0302; 082 494 3895 (send a WhatsApp message because cellphone reception is poor); morningglorycottages.co.za