Need a holiday for two? These out-of-the-way cottages might be just what you’re looking for. Whether tucked between the tree tops or perched high on a cliff, expect great views, wonderful nature and above all, buckets of peace and quiet. From R250 per person sharing, this is our pick of the cosiest couples’ accommodation in South Africa.
1. Boatman’s Cottage, Vrederus (Eastern Cape Highlands)
Location: -30.782000, 28.276300
If you’re into fly fishing then you probably already know about Vrederus, a working farm and favourite trout-fishing retreat at the foot of Naudé’s Neck Pass in the Eastern Cape Highlands. Owners Juan-Marie and Donie Naudé farm sheep and host fishermen in their two, comfortable stone cottages, and although both are quite close to the main farmhouse, there’s so much space all around that there’s no sense of being on top of each other. Aside from fly fishing, there are plenty of walks, more strenuous hikes, horse riding, bird watching and Drakensberg view admiring to do. The road to the farm is pretty bumpy from both the east and west and a high-clearance vehicle is recommended, especially in winter when there’s a very good chance of snow.
Cost: R500 for two (sleeps up to four on extra bunk beds)
2. Witkruis Cottage, Buitenstekloof (Overberg)
Location: -33.720772, 19.765179
The western Overberg is a beautiful part of the country, and Witkruis Cottage is a great spot from which to explore it. There’s a mountain pool nearby and a range of walks from the front door – from gentle strolls to more serious hiking. The cottage itself is simple and charming with indoor and outdoor braai facilities, a comfy queen-size bed and an excellent shower. There’s gas for the fridge and stove top, and solar lights too, but this is a cottage for candles and firelight and you’ll probably end up going back to basics instead.
Cost: From R640 for two (sleeps up to four on a sleeper couch)
3. Eagle Chalet, Cederberg Chalets (Cederberg)
Location: -32.376000, 19.411067
It’s hard to get further away from it all than Eagle Chalet in the Cederberg. This is a really wonderful spot for those in search of complete isolation, but you’ll need a high-clearance vehicle to get there – the last couple of hours are on very rough road. When you at last arrive, you’ll find a small, unassuming cottage, neatly put together with local stone. It’s fully equipped for self-catering with a gas fridge, hot water and solar lighting, and there’s inside and outside braai facilities. There’s nothing but mountains as far as you can see in any direction, no cellphone reception and total silence. Take a book. You’ll finish it.
Cost: R975 for the cottage (sleeps up to four on two extra twins)
4. Fly Me To The Moon, Moon Shine on Whiskey Creek (Garden Route)
Tree houses are fabulous things and Fly Me To The Moon is one of the most fabulous you’ll ever find. It’s one thing getting woken up by Knysna turacos bouncing on your ceiling, another when the ceiling is on a beautifully hand-crafted wooden cabin, surrounded by trees, with stunning views across the Outeniqua Mountains. The cabin is small, but not cramped, with electrical appliances and lighting, plus a wood-burning stove to keep things cosy in colder weather. The shower is outside on the deck but feels completely private with ample foliage to screen the cottage from the few others scattered in the surrounding forest. If you’re looking for the beach or a bit of a buzz, Plettenberg Bay is just down the road.
Cost: From R960 for two (sleeps two in a double bed),
5. Hluleka Nature Reserve Chalets (Wild Coast)
Location: -31.824978, 29.301990
Perhaps the most underrated accommodation on the Wild Coast, the chalets at Hluleka Nature Reserve are tranquil coastal cottages at their best. The seven, serviced units each sleep four, but the price for two is exceptionally reasonable and it’s really all about the upstairs double bed and its awesome sea views. Downstairs the kitchen is fully equipped, and there’s even full DStv if you somehow prefer that to the parade of dolphins and whales cruising through the bay outside. The white, sandy beach is a just hefty stone’s throw away and there’s a choice of sea or lagoon to swim in. It may be a bit of a drive to get there, but once you’re there you won’t want to leave.
Cost: From R476 for two (sleeps up to four on two extra twins)
6. Over-the-edge, The Edge Mountain Retreat (Hogsback)
Location: -32.601703, 26.917509
If it’s views you’re after then Over-the-edge is most definitely for you. This thatched rondavel has a king-size bed and is filled with stylish, classic fittings and furniture. It can get cold up in the mountains, but no matter, there’s a log fire to keep you warm. Out on the deck you really are right on the edge, with nothing at all to obstruct the Hogsback mountain views.
Cost: R1100 for Over-the-edge, Birchwood and Appletree garden cottages from R650 (sleeps two)
7. The Bothy, Rhodes Cottages (Eastern Cape Highlands)
Location: -30.795906, 27.965920
On the other side of Naudé’s Neck, the Eastern Cape Highlands town of Rhodes is another spot famed for its fly fishing and mountain scenery, and The Bothy is one of the town’s more comfortable cottages. The large, open-plan kitchen/lounge/dining area is homely and welcoming and the little veranda and outside, grassy lawn is ideal for a braai. If braaiing feels a little unappealing – and it can get icy in the highlands – the cosy interior is an ideal place to hunker down and stay warm, with thick duvets, electric blankets and an indoor fire. Beyond the walls, there are hundreds of kilometres of fishable streams, and non-fishers can still make use of the fishing permit system to walk, hike, mountain bike and swim. The town itself is small and very friendly so if you tire of each other’s company you’ll find lively local chat at Walkerbouts Inn.
Cost: R720 for two (sleeps up to four on two extra twins)
8. Garden Cottage, St Fort Country House (Clarens)
Location: -28.560534, 28.412555
Just outside of Clarens you’ll find St Fort Country House, a beautiful sandstone farmhouse in the heart of the Maluti Mountains. The main farmhouse sleeps up to 12 in five ensuite rooms, but just next door is a small, separate garden cottage that’s ideal for two. The surrounding mountains make for wonderful hiking and you can mountain bike and fish on the farm. Clarens town is just a few kilometres down the road so if you don’t fancy cooking, a good meal is only a short drive away.
Cost: From R1040 for the cottage (sleeps two)
9. Protea Cottage, Thirsty Falls Guest Farm (Magaliesberg)
Location: -25.861661, 27.364849
Another spot with wonderful views, Protea Cottage, gazes down from the slopes of the Magaliesberg and it’s from the shaded veranda that you’ll be taking it all in. Down below there’s a cool, communal eco-pool which serves the handful of cottages, discretely tucked between the thick scrub and trees. By day the pool makes a wonderful place to relax and there are also some short walks into the surrounding veld. At night, cross your fingers and hope for a thunderstorm – when they roll out over the plains, the cottage’s veranda is the perfect lookout point.
Cost: R1000 per night mid-week for two (sleeps up to three on a sleeper couch), R1200 on weekends and public holidays for two
10. Igababa Cabin, Zvakanaka (Soutpansberg)
Location: -22.977892, 29.952538
It’s the attention to detail and focus on seclusion and privacy that really makes Igababa Cabin so special. Your welcoming hosts, Gail and Alistair Maytham, designed and built Igababa (and another private cottage and handful of separate overland sites) with peace and quiet at the forefront of their minds and the result is a carefully considered couples’ cottage with all the finer touches for a very special stay. From the plunge pool by day to the outside bathtub at night, there’s nothing but relaxing to be had at this splendid Soutpansberg retreat.
Cost: R850 for the cottage (sleeps two)
Have we left your favourite spot off the list? Share your recommendations in the comments!