Coun­try Es­capes

Get out the cam­eras and binocs, it’s time for the great­est show on Earth

South African Country Life - - In This Issue -

Our pick of great flower-spot­ting stays


1 North­ern Cape Calvinia Die Han­tam Huis

What makes this North­ern Cape town of Calvinia one of the per­fect re­gional stopovers for the an­nual spring flower sea­son is its lo­ca­tion, its charm and the warm wel­come from the folks at Die Han­tam Huis. If you base your­selves for a few days in one of their beau­ti­fully re­stored, self-cater­ing Ka­roo guest houses (there are eight), you are within strik­ing dis­tance of iconic Na­maqua spots like Lo­eries­fontein, Nieu­woudtville, Van­rhyns­dorp and even, for the long-range thirsties among us, the Tankwa Pad­stal down south on the Ceres road. But don’t for­get to leave at least one day to ex­plore the town of Calvinia it­self. There are few more fas­ci­nat­ing, quirkier mu­se­ums in the prov­ince than the lo­cal one, there’s a flower re­serve just out­side the vil­lage and, yes, a selfie taken at the World’s Big­gest Post­box is a must. And then in the evenings, re­turn to your cot­tage, fire up the braai and open the first bot­tle of some­thing in­ter­est­ing. Or, if there is no urge to pre­pare sup­per, just stroll across to the cen­tral Han­tam Huis restau­rant and be served a su­perb se­lec­tion of lo­cal dishes. – Chris Marais

027 341 1606, han­[email protected],

2 West­ern Cape


Fern­kloof Lodge

The West Coast is most folks’ choice for flower-spot­ting. But if you en­joy the un­usual, a trip to the Over­berg re­gion comes highly rec­om­mended. A friend and I took off on one such ad­ven­ture and dis­cov­ered Fern­kloof Na­ture Re­serve, home to a frac­tion of the flora of the Cape Flo­ral King­dom but, we were told, there is no other place where so many dif­fer­ent species can be seen grow­ing in such close prox­im­ity to one another. Apart from splen­did fyn­bos, the re­serve of­fers a 60-kilo­me­tre net­work of trails with spec­tac­u­lar vis­tas, and ex­cel­lent bird­ing. We spent two ex­cit­ing days ex­plor­ing the Klein­riv­ier Moun­tains, and two com­fort­able nights at Fern­kloof Lodge. Our ac­com­mo­da­tion in the well-ap­pointed African Colo­nial Suite, over­look­ing Her­manus Golf Club, was on a bed-and-break­fast ba­sis. The lodge has two ad­di­tional suites, one suit­able for a self-cater­ing fam­ily of four. At­ten­tion to de­tail pre­vails in this four-star guest house, with gar­dens, a pool and hospi­tal­ity. Five min­utes from the moun­tain, beach and town, we con­grat­u­lated our­selves on this splen­did choice. – Olivia Schaf­fer

[email protected]­, ww.fern­

3 North­ern Cape


Goe­gap Na­ture Re­serve

On the out­skirts of Spring­bok, in the heart of Na­maqua­land, is an of­ten over­looked 10 000-hectare na­ture re­serve. Thanks to a tip from a friend, I dis­cov­ered this lit­tle gem. Away from the bus­tle, with­out cell­phone re­cep­tion, Goe­gap makes you feel like you’re miles away from civil­i­sa­tion. With a camp­site set in an am­phithe­atre of gran­ite hills, thatched huts and equipped self-cater­ing chalets, vis­i­tors have op­tions. Day vis­i­tors can pic­nic and ex­plore the re­serve on a hik­ing trail or on the leisurely 14-kilo­me­tre drive, or the longer and more de­mand­ing

4x4 route. Dry and sparse in sum­mer, the land trans­forms in spring af­ter good rain­fall, like a re­splen­dent Cin­derella on the night of the ball. On my jour­ney, I opted for the ba­sic thatched hut (mi­nus elec­tric­ity), pro­vid­ing a roof, a bed, a pri­vate bath­room and a wel­come pocket of re­serve. In the morn­ing, it was just a short drive to town for a stop at the shops and Spring­bok Lodge Restau­rant, be­fore re­turn­ing to Goe­gap peace. A chalet is on the list for my next foray into the North­ern Cape. – Ron Swill­ing

027 718 9906

4 West Coast


Draai­hoek Lodge

Night was fall­ing and we had nowhere to lay our heads. Ev­ery door we’d knocked on had proved fu­tile – ei­ther there was no room, or the place was too ghastly to con­sider. See­ing the en­trance to Draai­hoek about 20 kilo­me­tres from Elands­baai, we drove in to find a par­adise of lux­u­ri­ous cot­tages and a su­perb manor house. The restau­rant com­pares with the best and, although we were late, the chef cre­ated a gourmet meal just for me, the sole veg­e­tar­ian there. Draai­hoek’s pri­vate na­ture re­serve is within a veg­e­ta­tion tran­si­tion zone be­tween the Cape Penin­sula and the Na­maqua flo­ral king­doms, which gives flower spot­ters the best of both those worlds. Nearby are flow­er­scapes like those around Clan­william and in the West Coast Na­tional Park, and the daz­zling, flower-span­gled fields on ei­ther side of the Sishen-Sal­danha Rail­way Line. You might though want to just stay put, ex­plor­ing the Strand­veld spring flora. Take time too to stroll across the white dunes to the de­serted beach where you might spot Heav­i­side’s dol­phins that, like many of the flora, you’ll see only along the West Coast. – An­drea Ab­bott

022 952 1170, [email protected]­, www.draai­

5 North­ern Cape


The Ark at the Williston Mall

Vet­eran daisy-spot­ters will tell you that if you book your Na­maqua ad­ven­ture in ad­vance, there’s a fifty-fifty chance of find­ing vast fields of flow­ers. Those who come purely for the sight of Na­maqua­land in full bloom might end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. “You should have been here last week,” the lo­cals say. “It was glo­ri­ous.” Un­for­tu­nately, these new­born blomme await the plea­sure of no man. So to avoid ‘daisy dis­ap­point­ment’ plan stopovers, like at the overnighter, Die Ark Gaste­huis at the Williston Mall. The ‘mall’ is ev­ery­thing you’d ex­pect from a mid­dleof-nowhere at­trac­tion: hos­pitable, un­usual, cre­ative and down­right funny. The Mall precinct of­fers lovely rooms, drink and meals, and own­ers Pi­eter and El­marie Naudé will make a book­ing at a self-cater­ing cot­tage nearby if that’s your pref­er­ence. If you time your visit for the first week of Septem­ber, chances are you’re in for a bonus: the Williston Win­ter­fees, where the leg­endary Nama Riel dance is cel­e­brated. – Chris Marais

053 391 3659, willis­ton­win­ter­[email protected]

6 North­ern Cape


Moun­tain View B&B

Spring­bok is ide­ally sit­u­ated on the Na­maqua Flower Route and pro­vides easy ac­cess to the sur­round­ing towns and the Goe­gap Na­ture Re­serve, as well as the Na­maqua Na­tional Park (even the drive there boasts quiver trees and spec­tac­u­lar road­side flow­ers in sea­son). At Moun­tain View B&B you are warmly greeted by Mag­gie Cor­nelis­sen and shown to one of 12 well-ap­pointed rooms or the self-cater­ing flat. The rooms are uniquely dec­o­rated and the bal­cony pro­vides good views as the name sug­gests. In flower sea­son the moun­tain that butts right up against the house can have mag­nif­i­cent flower dis­plays. Cool off in the pool af­ter a day’s sight­see­ing, re­lax in the el­e­gant lounge and meet new friends. Moun­tain View is close to the cen­tre of Spring­bok yet feels miles from the town bus­tle. A short hik­ing trail from the lodge pro­vides an el­e­vated view of Spring­bok.

– Ann Gadd 027 712 1438, 082 895 7665, moun­tain­[email protected]­don­ www.moun­tain­

7 North­ern Cape

Tankwa Tented Camp, Stone­henge Farm

R355 be­tween Calvinia and Ceres If you’re look­ing for good value ac­com­mo­da­tion and a crazy bar in the mid­dle of an oc­ca­sion­ally flow­er­ing desert, Tankwa Tented Camp fits the bill. It’s off the R355 that links Ceres and Calvinia on a road that should not be taken lightly. It can be a tyre-eater. But the re­wards are great if the rain gods and flower fairies con­spire to cre­ate drifts of daisies along the roads. Not far from the camp, you may also see some un­usual artis­tic struc­tures left in the mid­dle of noth­ing­ness af­ter AfrikaBurn fes­tiv­i­ties. As the name in­di­cates, ac­com­mo­da­tion is mostly un­der can­vas, each roomy tent with two beds, a bed­side ta­ble, a lamp and not too much else. Ablu­tions are com­mu­nal and hot wa­ter is sup­plied (morn­ings and evenings) via a don­key boiler. Al­ter­nately bring your own camp­ing stuff, or opt for one of five en suite chalets. In ad­di­tion to some­thing lekker at the On­verk­laar Bar, you can also find a box with the od­dest trin­kets and trea­sures. And don’t miss the nightly sun­downer on a nearby hill. – Juli­enne duToit.

071 078 4400, tankwa­tent­ed­[email protected],

8 North­ern Cape


Kothuis Self-Cater Cot­tage

The most di­rect route be­tween Gaut­eng and the flow­er­ing Na­maqua­land is via Vos­burg, a town wedged neatly be­tween Brit­stown and Carnar­von. The Kothuis is right in the mid­dle, where the sound­track at sun­set in­cludes the sigh of a wind­pump and the odd sheep bleat­ing. This is the per­fect place to get into a Ka­roo state of mind be­fore head­ing to the flow­ers. The Kothuis is snug, has a fully-equipped kitchen, a spec­tac­u­larly large and pri­vate stoep with braai area, and in­side, two com­fort­able bed­rooms shar­ing a bath­room with enor­mous shower. Out­side, the old wagon shed has been trans­formed into an en suite bed­room with an old enamel bath­tub. You can shop for ba­sics at the agri­cul­tural co-op (and visit the butcher in Brit­stown on the way). Or or­der some­thing from Erika’s Ka­roo-Winkel up the road. Just give them a bit of warn­ing. – Chris Marais

072 234 8877, kothuisvos­[email protected]

9 West­ern Cape

Kran­shuis, Gif­berg Hol­i­day Farm

Van­rhyns­dorp I usu­ally head up the West Coast to cel­e­brate the ar­rival of spring at well-known flower hotspots like the Biedouw Val­ley, Ceder­berg or the West Coast Na­tional Park. But last year I de­cided to drive to the high moun­tain wilder­ness of the Gif­berg. A drive with flow­ers flank­ing the na­tional road and masses of white and yel­low daisies on the plains at the bot­tom of the moun­tain. At the pet-friendly Gif­berg Hol­i­day Farm, the flo­ral dis­play wasn’t lim­ited to daisies and the more con­spic­u­ous species; the fyn­bos was bloom­ing, as were colour­ful bulbs. This ac­com­mo­da­tion com­prises four self-cater­ing cot­tages, a large self-cater­ing house and a camp­site. Plus a cof­fee-deck, swim­ming pool, fab­u­lous hik­ing and rock pools. We stayed at Kran­shuis, a quaint cot­tage that sleeps six in one dou­ble, and two twin-bed­ded rooms. We en­joyed a pri­vate braai area, fac­ing a rocky cliff. It has ev­ery­thing you need for a com­fort­able stay. – Fiona McIn­tosh

027 219 1555, [email protected]­, www.gif­

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