For city slicker families looking for a tranquil breakaway, South Africa offers a variety of farm stays in rural areas. Here we give you ten fantastic options in the Western Cape. On these farms you can just relax while “getting away from it all”, or you can get up early and learn what life on the farm is really all about.
1. OAKHURST FARM COTTAGES, HOEKWIL
Located along the well-known Seven Passes Road, which runs inland between George and Knysna, Oakhurst Farm offers a healthy country break for the whole family.
Their cottages are set along the edge of a forest and each one is privately positioned and fully set up for self catering. Each has three bedrooms, sleeps up to 6 people and has a central bathroom with a shower. The living area opens out onto a large wooden deck and braai area.
At the Oakhurst Dairy, accompanied kids are welcome to watch the cows being milked. The staff will explain the process to them so they will know where milk comes from and how it reaches the breakfast table each morning.
There is plenty of outdoor fun on the farm to keep you and your kids busy. Activities also include mountain biking or trail running, hiking through the forest, fishing in the farm dam and canoeing. The kids can climb up to Crow’s Nest (a large platform built into the trees, with a slide attached) or go wild in the outside play area by the cottages.
2. BAKENOORD, BONNIEVALE
Located nine kilometres from Bonnievale, in the picturesque Breede River Valley, BakenOord wine farm is only two hours away from Cape Town.
Here you can enjoy a relaxing stay in one of the labourers’ cottages on the banks of the Breede River. The nearby Bakenskop offers unspoilt views of the Breede River Valley and of the Langeberg and Riviersonderend mountains.
Take your family for a walk along the banks of the Breede River, through 13 kilometres of riverbed and through vineyards, and 6 kms through the bossieveld. The kids can swim in the river or fish in the river and dam. The farm’s cycling routes are also suitable for families.
There are lots of things to do nearby, including tennis, golf, bowls and visiting the crocodile farm. Bring your bicycles and explore the region. Be sure to take your cameras, sketch pads, notebooks and (if you must) even your laptop. Wireless internet can be arranged on request.
3. RETREAT AT GROENFONTEIN, CALITZDORP
Enjoy your stay in a Victorian farmhouse set in 560 ha of the beautiful Groenfontein Valley Conservancy, bordering on the Swartberg Nature Reserve. The house has a lounge and dining room – each with its own fireplace to keep you cosy on chilly winter evenings. The wide verandah overlooks the gardens and majestic Swartberg mountains.
Your Hosts, Grant and Marie, will treat your family to true Klein Karoo hospitality. When the weather is warm, meals are served on the terrace, and when it’s not you can enjoy your dinner beside a crackling fire in the dining room.
There are two family suites away from the house with private terraces from which to appreciate the breath-taking views.
There is no cell phone reception and no television, except for the TV in the main lounge, mainly to entertain young children with suitable DVDs when needed. Because the farm operates on solar power there are no fridges or kettles in the rooms but they do supply ice, cold drinks, tea and coffee on request.
From The Retreat it is easy to explore the Swartberg Pass, Meiringspoort, Seweweekspoort, Montagu Pass and more.
Activities include walking, mountain biking and swimming in the cool, secluded rock pools.
4. RHODENE FARM COTTAGES, CERES
Rhodene has nine self-catering luxury cottages and a modern farm house. An hour and a half from Cape Town, the farm is situated at the foot of the Skurweberg mountains with a view across the Ceres valley. You can take the kids for a walk or cycle in the mountain or fish for small and large mouthed bass in the dam.
The area offers great birding opportunities and for the adventurous family there are 4×4 routes, great cycling routes, mountain biking and horse riding. Older children might love to try the Ceres Zipline, which is not only great fun but offers wonderful views of the valley.
Nearby there are cherry picking in season (on Klondyke farm), 4 x 4 Routes, fly-fishing, abseiling, steam train trips with the Ceres Rail Company and various sporting facilities. The area also experiences snowfalls in winter.
All their cottages are fully equipped so all you need to bring for an enjoyable stay is your food and drinks.
5. VREDE-OORD GUESTFARM, CLANWILLIAM
Vrede-Oord Guest farm is a working citrus farm situated at the foot of the Cederberg mountain range, and borders the Olifantsriver.
Here you can enjoy taking a walk through the orchards and taste freshly picked oranges or clementines during harvesting season (April till September). The farm also offers guided tours through their citrus pack house.
Their family unit has separate bedrooms containing one double and two single beds and can sleep 1 – 4 people. The rooms have an en suite bathroom, a heater for cooler evenings and tea/coffee making facilities.
All units have private entrances and access to the garden, swimming pool and braai facilities. Fresh bed linen and towels are provided and guests can choose between self-catering or the bed and breakfast option.
Nearby things to do include a visit to the small fishing town of Lambert’s Bay, where you can walk to the third biggest colony of Cape Gannets in the world, or enjoy a ‘braai’ at Muisbosskerm, the famous open air seafood restaurant. On the Clanwilliam dam you can enjoy kayaking, sailing, angling and water skiing.
Vrede-Oord also offers a 4×4 trip to Wupperthal, a quiet mission station in the Cederberg, where you can visit rock formations, waterfalls and bushman paintings.
6. JONQUA FARM COTTAGES, GREAT BRAK RIVER
Situated on the R102 between George and Mossel Bay, Jonqua farm overlooks the beautiful Jonkersberg and Outeniqua mountains.
Jonqua has 3 self-catering cottages overlooking a dam with plenty of black bass for fishing.
Two of the cottages each have 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen and a living area. They can accommodate 6 people each with a sleeper bench in the living area. All cottages have linen, towels and braai facilities but you need to take your own beach towels. There is no television but cell phone and internet reception is good.
Five minutes’ drive away from Jonqua, you can enjoy a game drive at a private game reserve, where you can view lion, elephant, buffalo, blue wildebeest, zebra and rhino. Boat trips can also be organised in Mossel Bay, where whales can be spotted in season. Just 50 kms away, Oudtshoorn offers the Cango Caves, the Cango Wildlife Ranch and various ostrich farms, amongst various other attractions.
7. TOORBOS, WILDERNESS
The unspoilt nature setting makes the 86 hectare Toorbos farm perfect for family holidays. On this working macadamia farm you can enjoy hiking and mountain biking or taking a stroll through the farm’s macadamia orchards.
The cosy and private cottages offer amazing views right on the water’s edge, where you can go for a cruise in your own small boat or do some catch-and-release fishing (rods and lures are supplied).
Wilderness offers endless, unspoilt beaches and the area is famous for its bird watching opportunities. At Toorbos you can expect to see woodland, grassland, freshwater birds and raptors, so you need to take your binoculars and bird books along!
Toorbos Cottages are fully equipped for 4 – 6 guests each. Their equipment is top-notch, with Russell Hobbes appliances, wide screen televisions and Weber gas braais. The cottages are tastefully furnished and equipped with crisp linen and soft towels.
8. PACKWOOD WINE AND COUNTRY ESTATE, BETWEEN KNYSNA AND PLETTENBERG BAY
The award winning Packwood Wine and Country Estate is located between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route. Surrounded by indigenous forests and offering amazing views Packwood has nature in abundance.
Their vineyard produces award winning handcrafted wines and their dairy is home to 950 very happy Jersey cows – all 100% pasture fed.
Spend a relaxing afternoon by the pool while enjoying the view of the ocean or meander through the farm, down to the dairy. They milk at 3pm and 6am and if the estate manager is around he would love to chat about his Jerseys. Ask him for a visit to the calf shed, you might even be able to feed the calves.
Other activities include fishing (black bass or tilapia), spotting wildlife and birding. You might even hear a Fish Eagle or spot a Knysna lourie (Knysna turaco). You can arrange a “lunchbox “, if you’d like to take the kids for a picnic in the pine field.
In the area there are world class beaches, a multitude of restaurants and many options for a fun packed day of anything from shopping to surfing, mountain biking, quad biking and horse riding.
Their family cottage has three bedrooms, sleeps 4-5 people and is ideal for relaxing and unwinding after a busy day of activities with the children. There is a braai area and ample space for the kids to run around and play.
9. SKEIDING GUEST FARM, HEIDELBERG
Skeiding Guest Farm is close to the N2 and halfway between Cape Town and Knysna. A working ostrich, sheep, Nguni cattle, wheat and canola farm, it offers an education for families from the city, as well as a place to relax.
Guests can learn about the workings of the farm, for example you can watch the ostriches being fed in the morning during a “hands on” farm tour. You are also welcome to take a leisurely walk on the farm, enjoy the abundant bird life or relax in their crystal clear salt pool.
Other activities in the area can be arranged for you. You can visit the two Aloe Ferox factories, relax on the beach at Arniston / Waenhuiskrans, or hire a boat at Malagas Hotel for a leisurely cruise up and down the Breede River. The Buffeljagsdam offers abseiling, a sundowner cruise, a foefie slide and waterskiing. There are many more excursions available to choose from.
Skeiding’s rooms and cottages have all you need – an honesty bar, tea and coffee making facilities, en suite bathrooms with fluffy bath sheets, luxurious beds, bathrobes, swimming towels, heaters, ceiling fans, electric blankets, ostrich leather slippers, hair dryers and fireplaces (in six of the rooms and cottages).
There are two bedrooms in the main homestead, one with a double bed and one with a twin or king size bed. These rooms both have wheelchair friendly bathrooms and can be interleading for a family suite.
The two small cottages next to the main homestead and unfenced swimming pool sleeps maximum two adults and one child under 12 years on a mattress. Each has a lounge area with a small kitchenette with a self-catering option. In winter you can snuggle in front of the wood burning Dover stove, enjoy beautiful mountain views, colourful sunsets or a sundowner from the patio outside.
The two family cottages are 300m away from the main homestead and next to the farm fields. Each has two bedrooms and one bathroom with a shower, as well as an indoor braai / fireplace, fully equipped kitchen (for a self-catering option) and an open plan living area. They can sleep maximum 4 adults and 2 children on a sleeper couch in the living area. All braai equipment is provided.
A variety of board games are available in the main homestead. You can also test your hands at Boules on the lawn or try out their one-hole golf course.
Tel: +27 (0)82 451 4965
Fax: +27 (0)28 722 2223
10. SWARTBERG BACKPACKERS, MATJIESRIVIER
At Swartberg Backpackers you will find hospitality like few places we have visited before. From the warmest welcome at the gate upon your arrival to the heartfelt “we’ll see you again” when you leave, you and your kids will enjoy every minute of your stay.
Owners, Louis and Yolande de Jager and their children, have created a relaxing yet energising environment, perfect for escaping a busy life in the city. Here you can experience the beauty, tranquillity and energy of life on a farm.
Sitting on the stoep of your cottage, you can enjoy the breathtaking views of the Swartberg Mountains while watching the kids swim or canoe in the dam. In the mornings or afternoons, you can join the De Jagers for a fun, guided hiking trail to the waterfall and natural rock pool, where you can cool off in the summer Swartberg weather. They also offer a ride on a trailer hooked to a tractor to a second dam further away, for canoeing and swimming.
The farm offers two accommodation options. The two-bedroom chalet next to the main house has a main room with a double bed, a small open-plan kitchen and an en suite bathroom with a shower. The other room has a double bunk bed, a kitchen with an oven and refrigerator and braai facilities with free firewood.
The dormitory, called “The Ark’, consists of two rooms, each with 4 bunk beds, and can sleep up to 16 guests. The rooms have en suite bathrooms with a shower, toilet and basin. They both open onto the open-plan area with a kitchen, built-in braai, lounge and dining room. The main door opens onto the outside braai area which overlooks the farm dam and the waterfall. This unit also has table tennis for additional entertainment.
The farm uses solar electricity, gas and wood fires, so no television. The solar electricity provides enough power to charge a laptop, cellular phone, room lights as well as a portable 12V fridge. There are solar geysers and gas to provide warm water and a stainless steel “donkie” for the overcast and rainy days.
In the area you can view the snow on the mountains in winter, find adventure in Gamkaskloof or “The Hell”, which is a 2-hour drive away. Watch the eagles in the sky, follow the trails of the Cape leopard, and listen to the barking of wild baboons. The nearby town of Oudtshoorn offers the world-famous Cango Caves, Cango Wildlife Ranch, various ostrich farms and more.
Swartberg Backpackers is pet, biker and cyclist friendly, and kids will love to cuddle the bunnies!