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Category Archives: Western Cape

Suikerbossie Guest Farm, Koue Bokkeveld

 

We headed back to Suikerbossie Guest Farm for the Easter weekend this year. As I said before, this is a very impressive spot and it’s a great choice if you want to avoid the hoards of people that descend upon every camp site available across the country.

De Pakhuys Revisited

 

Okay, so I need to give a fair account of De Pakhuys. We came back. Admittedly out of convenience – we were looking at a farm on the south side of the Doring River. We had a number of options in the vicinity of this farm, but wanted something that we hadn’t experienced before or that wasn’t sickeningly commercial. As previously stated, we didn’t get a fair idea of De Pakhuys the last time and it claimed to have walks and a waterfall, so we were sold.

De Pakhuys, Clanwilliam, Western Cape, South Africa


Place: De Pakhuys, Pakhuis Pass, Western Cape
Closest Town: Clanwilliam (28km)
Facilities: Standard ablutions facilities, which likely have hot water…hard to say because we had no water whatsoever
Water: Small dam nearby, rivers on the farm and walking distance to river and waterfall
Surroundings: Splendid, rugged Cederberg
Turf: Informal, mostly gravely ground, fair amount of shade
Distance from CT: 256km
Privacy: You could certainly escape immediate neighbours on non-busy weekends.
Highlight: I’d imagine the river and waterfall that we unfortunately didn’t have time to see, bouldering/ rock climbing for those that way inclined
Cost: I seem to remember something along the lines of R70 per person (roughly)
Contact: Website, Email, +27 (0)27 482 1879
GPS Coordinates: -32.119946,19.059219

View De Pakhuys Campsite and Cottages in a larger map

Beaverlac in Winter

My last entry on Beaverlac was a tad critical, but for very good reason. As I said, the setting, the site’s subsequent popularity and the no-booking policy have resulted in a campsite that is uncomfortably full over holidays and long weekends, especially in summer (a friend of mine having said that his visit over a long weekend this year was his first and will be his last). It’s a pity because it is possibly the most tranquil and splendid farm I have encountered, especially now- ‘out of season’.

Matjiesvlei Farm Campsite, Calitzdorp, Western Cape

 

Place: Matjiesvlei, Calitzdorp, Western Cape
Closest Town: Calitzdorp (12km)
Facilities: Open campsite with some sites nestled between the trees, relatively new ablutions with hot water compliments of an easy-to-use donkey boiler*, quaint cottages also available for accommodation
Water: A dammed stretch of river, Matjiesvlei
Surroundings: Mountainous Klein Karoo
Turf: Mostly grassy with ample shade around the edges
Distance from CT: 372km
Privacy: A few semi-private campsites nestled in between the bushes along the dam, rest of the campsite fairly open
Highlight: Exquisite views if you explore the farm, very hospitable hosts- Bennie and Selma Nel
Cost: R150 per vehicle
Contact: +27 (0)73 174 1028 (Selma Cell), +27 (0)44 213 3756 (home), Email: matjiesvlei@telkomsa.net, Website
GPS Coordinates: -33.454646, 21.636286

 

I’ll confess upfront: I didn’t actually camp here. The intention had been to camp, but since very affordable cottages were available and there was a group of people interested in joining us, we settled for a lovely little house on the hill. However, I did scout around the campsite and become slightly acquainted with the farm, so feel quite confident that I can give a fair account of what it would be like to camp here.

Bulshoek Dam Resort, Bulshoek Dam, Western Cape

 

Place: Bulshoek Dam Resort, Bulshoek Dam, Western Cape
Closest Town: Clanwilliam (19.4km)
Facilities: First come first served campsites, fully equipped single ablution block with hot water
Water: On the Bulshoek Dam
Surroundings: Dam, small Cederberg Mountains
Turf: Ample shade. Mostly grass, unless you decide to avoid the masses like us and head for the only quiet spot under a tree, which happened to be sandy
Distance from CT: 247km
Privacy: Granted it was the start of Easter weekend, but this looked more like a music festival
Highlight: Being told we don’t have to pay because of arriving late and leaving early
Cost: It’s hard to say, really (didn’t give us a price on the phone either)
Contact: Website, Landline: 027 482 2635 Cell: 072 124 7747, Email
GPS Coordinates: -32.036675,18.820267

View Bulshoek Dam Resort in a larger map

I have to be honest, it’s difficult to give an accurate account of this campsite when the criteria for camping here was straightforward. As an overnight stop before heading to the Richtersveld, we needed a spot close to the N7 that was a decent distance out of Cape Town.

Next, I have a confession: I find that the word, resort, immediately makes me prejudice. Resort connotes all sorts of terrifying things that one really doesn’t want to have to confront while camping.

Kromrivier, Cederberg Conservancy, Western Cape

 

Place: KromrivierCederberg Conservancy
Closest Town: Towns are not close (Op-die-Berg, 74km)
Facilities: Standard fully equipped ablutions (toilets could cope better on an Easter weekend), cottages available
Water: On a trickling, stagnant river (end of summer), a little dam
Surroundings: Slight mountain plateau, typical rugged Cederberg scenery
Turf: Few shady spots, dry grass
Distance from CT: Roughly 210km
Privacy: Limited campsites, but fairly close proximity to neighbours
Highlight: the area, rather than the campsite
Contact: Rinda, E-mail, Tel/ Fax: (0)27 482 2807
GPS Coordinates: -32.536683,19.285984

View Kromrivier, Cederberg Conservancy, Western Cape in a larger map

The Kromrivier campsite left little impression on me except for the super-powered homemade farm bread, the fact that a resident cat had recently produced a proud litter of kittens and the owners fully support the Cape Leopard Trust. We found that there wasn’t too much to do around the actual campsite, the river was stagnant and suffering from summer dehydration and the dam just didn’t quite invite us for those swims that other flowing and moving bodies of water in the mountains so often do.

Gifberg Holiday Farm, unofficial river campsite, Western Cape

Place: Gifberg Holiday Farm, unofficial river campsite
Closest Town: Vanrhynsdorp (though let this not determine your judgement)
Facilities: Nature all the way, baby
Water: A flowing river- the Doring
Surroundings: Rugged rocks and mountains typical of the Northern Cederberg
Turf: Sandy river bank
Distance from CT: Roughly 300km
Privacy: this is where the word originated
Highlight: You realise that time is an invention
Cost: R80 pppn and R50 vehicle fee
Contact: www.gifberg.co.za 027 219 1555, email:gifberg@webmail.co.za
GPS Coordinates: -31.866478,18.820696

View Gifberg Holiday Farm, Doring River Camping Spot, Western Cape in a larger map

This one’s slightly different. You don’t venture 4 hours out of Cape Town on a standard 2-day weekend, over a dramatic pass and eventually down a fairly taxing farm road and arrive at lush green pastures with scattered trees overlooking a pretty river. And you don’t neatly unpack your camping gear and then have a hot shower before settling down in front of your campfire in its designated spot. No.

It’s better.

Suikerbossie Guest Farm, Koue Bokkeveld, Western Cape

Place: Suikerbossie, Kouebokkeveld
Closest Town: Citrusdal (30km, but not easily), Ceres (90km)
Facilities: Rustic, eco-friendly ablutions, basic camps, some fully equipped
Water: Situated right on the a river
Surroundings: Spectacular Koue Bokkeveld
Turf: Mostly lush grass, sandy at Waterfall Camp and Kuil Camp
Distance from CT: 209 km
Privacy: Limited campsites, fairly close proximity to neighbours, but not destructively so
Highlight: The setting, peach-picking in March, lounging on tubes/butterflies/explorers on the river, the nibbling fish
Cost: Varies per camp and number of people per camp, but bank on just over R100 pppn
Contact: Karin 0229213537
GPS Coordinates: -32.657876, 19.256973

View Suikerbossie Guest Farm, Kouebokkeveld, Western Cape in a larger map

Suikerbossie is spectacular! While it’s a slight mission to get to via Citrusdal without a decent set of wheels, the alternative 3 and a half hour drive via Ceres is well worth the effort, especially for a long weekend.

Not only is the setting beautiful, the campsites are varied and particularly well kept. Rustic shelters are provided at all sites, with some a little better equipped than others. The camp we stayed at, Ghoeboontjie, could be considered a slight cheat- it comes with a caravan and outdoor kitchen which is fully equipped. We did however still sleep in tents, so consider it facilitated camping. The advantage: forget that frantic packing.

Beaverlac, Grootfontein Farm/ Beaverlac Nature Reserve, Western Cape

Place: Beaverlac Nature Reserve, Grootfontein Farm, Olifants River Mountains
Closest Town: Porterville (24km)
Facilities: Basic, scattered ablutions with about 2 showers worth of hot water per day on a busy weekend, super-stocked shop
Water: A spectacular river (Olifants), and the Ratel river with many waterfalls and exquisite rock pools
Surroundings: Rugged rocks and mountains typical of the Western Cape
Turf: Relatively flat, attempted grass in places, sandy patches, increasingly shady (they keep planting trees)
Distance from CT: Roughly 170km
Privacy: Average. 1st come 1st serve. None over long weekends or during holidays
Highlight: Scrambling up the Ratel River and its rock pools, and Olifants River Valley
Cost: R40 pppn and R15 vehicle fee, no bookings except for cottages
Contact: 022 931 2945, www.beaverlac.co.za
GPS Coordinates: -32.907262,19.067287

View Beaverlac, Grootfontein Farm, Western Cape in a larger map

Besides the fact that I have voted Beaverlac my favourite farm in the Western Cape so far, and the fact that the setting is undeniably on par with my preference, this is objectively a true gem- its increasing popularity indicative of this.