Spring is on its way – and if you’re also a resident of Cape Town, you’ll know that this winter has been particularly miserable. And because I know that not everyone can go on a week’s holiday to enjoy the newly blossomed flowers and mild-to-warm sunshiny days, I put together a list of places where you can be surrounded by nature without driving for hours. And what’s more, none of them will leave you with an empty pocket, so you can keep on saving for that big getaway you’re planning for the end of the year.
10 affordable spring weekend breaks near Cape Town.
1. Wildebraam Berry Estate, outside Swellendam
Stay at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains, the slopes of which get covered in masses of pink Erica flowers in spring. The self-catering cottages cater for couples on a romantic retreat, but the larger cottages can also house up to 8 people. Taste the delicious range of berry liqueurs or take a 1,5km drive to go hike in the Marloth Nature Reserve, one of three reserves in the Langeberg Mountains.
Rates: Starting prices for a cottage are R480 a person a night for two guests; this goes up to R530 a person a night from 1 September.
Tel: 028 514 3132
2. Landmeterskop, outside Stanford
Waking up to see sheep grazing outside your front door is a sure sign that you’re on a working farm. They love the pastures outside Landmeterskop’s converted labourer’s cottages and if you forget to close your garden gate, they might even come up to your doorstep. The two self-catering cottages are identical and sleep four people each, while the recently renovated homestead is big enough for 11. Spend your days up at the swimming dam or in a paddleboat on a larger dam a short walk away. The Overberg creates a fine backdrop.
3. Duinepos Chalets, West Coast National Park
These charming chalets are situated within the West Coast National Park, a place well known for its spring wild flowers. And if you go in September, you can also see migratory waders, flamingos and pelicans returning after transcontinental trips. The 11 self-catering chalets are scattered around the area and each sleep four to six guests. Wake up to the sound of the birds, have a cup of coffee on your veranda and head out on a beautiful spring hike.
4. Aloe Cottage, Darling
This three-bedroomed cottage is situated on an indigenous renosterveld estate with only nine other houses on the entire estate. You’ll be close enough to Darling to enjoy dinner and wine at the Marmalade Cat, but far enough to enjoy the fresh country air. Mountain bikes are included to explore the area and town, and the cottage is pet friendly. Darling is also known for its picture perfect wild flowers in spring time.
5. Petersfield Farm, Citrusdal
Petersfield is an export citrus and rooibos tea mountain estate, overlooking the majestic Cederberg mountain range. Four fully equipped self-catering cottages each sleep six guests and have their own private swimming pool. (Except for Stonehaven cottage, which is more suitable for a romantic getaway). The cottages are more than a kilometer apart and create the perfect base from which to explore this 2000-hectare mountain wilderness reserve. And if you have pets, they’re welcome to join you – free of charge.
Rates: Midweek rates from R400 a person a night; weekends from R525 a person a night. (Note that minimum weekend booking is two nights.)
Tel: 022 921 3316
6. Anchor’s Rest, Hermanus
Hermanus is an all-time favourite for Capetonians and Spring is ideal for spotting whales. The four suites combine wooden floors and furniture with white interiors, creating a wonderfully refreshing atmosphere. Two suites sleep four people each; there are also two couples’ suites. You’ll be a short 150m stroll from the famous Hermanus cliff paths where you can spot the whales. You can either cater for yourself or rent on a bed and breakfast basis.
7. Bordeaux River Cottages, Bonnievale
The Breede River travels about 300 kilometres on its journey from the Hex River Mountains to the Indian Ocean, through Worcester, Robertson, Swellendam and past Bordeaux River Cottages in Bonnievale. While the river may not lap right up against the log cabins, it is close enough for you to hear it in the still of the night. Each of the three cabins is similar, with a simple set-up that sleeps six people.
Rates: R250 a person a night for two people; R60 a person thereafter. Rates go up to R275 a person a night from 1 September 2014.
Tel: 084 299 8490
8. Fynbos Retreat, between Stanford and Gansbaai
Many of the delicate, yet hardy species of Cape fynbos blooms in spring, making a weekend away to the Fynbos Retreat even more worthwhile than usual. Situated on the 2500 hectare Grootbos Nature Reserve, it offers three self-catering houses that overlook a beautiful dam and are well equipped with large outdoor entertainment areas. The biggest one, Arum Lily House, accommodates 12 people and even has its own pizza oven. Fountain Bush Cottage sleeps six, and the little Sewaartjie cottage sleeps two. Soak up the fresh sunshine by hiking, mountain biking or swimming in the dam.
9. Vaalvlei, just outside Stanford
This working wine farm not only offers you beautiful views of the Kleinriver Mountains and countryside, but it’s also known for its excellent trout fishing. And seeing as the early morning has lost its chilly bite, spring can be the perfect excuse to pick up that fishing rod. The two self-catering cottages are close to the lakes and those not interested in fishing can spend their time hiking, mountain biking or sipping on the farm’s own wines while enjoying the warm sunshine.
10. Kliphuis on Kleinfontein, just outside Tulbagh
Situated high up in the Winterhoek valley, this secluded cottage has a rustic feel, but boasts all the necessary self-catering equipment. It’s an ideal place to take in the views of the valleys and go hiking or mountain biking in the warm spring weather. The cottage sleeps six comfortably and walks out onto a patio with a braai area, making it an ideal weekend away destination both for friends and families.