Looking for an affordable weekend break in the Karoo? These 14 cottages and guest farms were some of our favourites from 2015. They’re all under R400 per person per night (you might have to go with friends) and come endorsed by our Getaway journos and contributors.
Also see: 7 things to do in the Tankwa Karoo
Please note that the prices below are subject to change at each establishment’s discretion. Please check with them before travelling.
1. Sunset View guest house and campsite, Douglas
Cost: R300 per person per night sharing for en-suite rooms, R100 a night for camping for 4 people.
Contact: Tel 0823769771, sunsetview.nc.co.za
Situated on the banks of the Vaal River just outside of Douglas, surrounded by gum trees and a lush garden with abundant birdlife. There’s a playground for children, quiet spots to relax with a river view and good fishing too (catch and release). The fully equipped guesthouse has four en-suite rooms, each with their own entrance from the garden. The grassy campsites are all between 20 and 30 metres from the river and have electricity points and braai facilities.
2. Kambro Cottage, Graaff-Reinet
Cost: R330 per person sharing (R1000 for two adults
with two children). Single occupancy R450.
Greg Kappers offers the best deal in town: a roomy, open-plan space furnished in rustic Karoo-cottage style, with one double bed and two single beds and a combined sitting and dining room area. A narrow, equipped kitchenette leads off this but Greg, who is a very obliging host, will make you breakfast if you want, or you can stroll to the nearby restaurants and local coffee shop. All the essentials are here ‒ air conditioning, off-street parking and a private entrance ‒ at an unbelievably good rate. With only two units, it’s worth booking early.
3. No 6 Parliament, Graaff-Reinet
Cost: From R400 per person. Children under 12 R200. Kids under three free.
If you like the privacy that comes with booking your own home, this three-bedroom Victorian-era house, directly opposite the new entrance to the Drostdy Hotel, is your best bet. Comfortably furnished and well equipped (air conditioners in every room are a boon in summer), the house also has a private, pretty walled garden that is furnished (timber and concrete; no plastic) and offers braai facilities. Serviced daily.
4. De Kothuize, Graaff-Reinet
Cost: R650 for one; R860 for two; R1200 for three;
R1520 for four; R1700 for five; R1920 for six.
De Kothuize is a real find: seven restored national monuments, each with two or three bedrooms; all located within easy strolling distance of each other and the town’s restaurants and key sights. Most feature original Cape Dutch features like built-in wall cupboards, yellowwood floors and stinkwood-detailed doors. Four of them are located in historic Parsonage Street, a tree-lined avenue bookended by the gracious gables of the Drostdy and Reinet House respectively; a further two are located in Cradock street; unit seven is around the corner in historic Middle Street. Michelle, the manageress, is very helpful. De Kothuize is pet- and child-friendly.
Room tip: 166 Cradock is a personal favourite ‒ a comfortable three-bedroom cottage with a large walled garden. But if you want a pool, book 54 Middle Street or 6 Parsonage Street (both two-bedroom cottages); the houses with pools don’t cost extra.
5. Rothman Street, Graaff-Reinet
Cost: At R300 per person sharing, or R320 for a single occupancy, you won’t get a much better rate elsewhere.
The old-fashioned accommodation, most with their own entrances, are scrupulously clean, and your hostess is the warm Judy who you’ll likely find in the garden or in her kitchen, cooking up her harvest into jams. All accommodation is within easy walking distance of the shops and restaurants and there is secure off-street parking.
6. Allemann se Huisie, Nieu-Bethesda
Cost: Self-catering R500 for two people or R640 including breakfast.
Contact: Tel 0498411642, nieu-bethesda.com
Small and self-contained, this cottage sits in a pleasant garden in the heart of Nieu-Bethesda. We recommend you have a braai on the patio and watch the sunset before being dazzled by the starry night sky.
7. Glen Avon Guest Farm, Somerset East
Cost: Self-catering from R250 to R400 per person
sharing. Breakfast R70 per person.
Contact: Tel 0422433628, glenavonfarm.co.za
Accommodation consists of two restored cottages, along with two guestrooms in the main farmhouse. Hart Cottage is an original 1817 thatched wattle and daub dwelling, set in the garden amongst oak trees and white stinkwoods, while cosy Pecan Cottage is set amongst large pecan trees and lush rolling pastures.
Also read: Discover the Karoo on a pet-friendly road trip
8. Bergzight Cottage , Karoo
Cost: Self-catering R500 for the unit
(up to three people).
Contact: Tel 0824455569, zandrivierfarm.com
Zandriver offers three private cottages and the opportunity of either getting away from it all, or being part of farm life. Guests are welcome to swim in the farm dams and explore the fields, woods and veld. Bergzight Cottage is a large two-roomed cottage and one of the original farm dwellings of Zandrivier. The wide stoep is ideal for early morning coffee or late afternoon sundowners, while taking in the sweeping views for which the cottage is named.
9. Wolverfontein , Ladismith
Cost: Self-catering in D’Waenhuis is R275 per person sharing (weekdays) and R300 per person sharing (weekends).
Contact: Tel 0285512277, wolverfontein.com
Submerge yourself in the lifestyle of the early South African settler traders while relaxing in this fully-restored farm building that was built in 1880. The farm is set on the banks of the Touws River which allows guests to take a river ramble, while the surrounding roads are perfect for mountain biking. But if lazing in the shade of your private stoep is activity enough, then Wolverfontein will reward.
10. Mount Noah Lodge, Oudtshoorn
Cost: From R800 per room.
Contact: Tel 0442725670, mountnoah.co.za
Think of the last thing you’d expect to find in the middle of the Karoo. How about a yacht club? That’s right, Mount Noah Lodge has launched its new accommodation in Oudtshoorn: a yacht club built with a fleet of seven specially fitted and renovated yachts, that’ll never see water again. The first, Sagitta, got there by chance when her trailer broke down on a journey to Durban. Over the years, six more followed suit. Each suite is air-conditioned, has its own bathroom and private deck. Other facilities on this dry-dock marina include a swimming pool, bar, braai spots and a sunset-viewing lounge, and guests can take in views of the Swartberg and Outeniqua Mountains while tucking into breakfast or dinner (available on request).
11. Hantam Huis, Calvinia
Cost: From R200 a person sharing.
Contact: Tel 0273411606, calvinia.co.za
Hantam Huis is a bit of a misnomer: it’s a building on Hoop Street but it also refers to the broader collection of 30 historical units scattered around town. We stayed at Stoepkamer in Die Dorpshuis on Water Street, which is a national monument. With a brass four-poster bed frame and squeaky floorboards it’s a little like being in an elaborate, person-sized dollhouse. Look out for the Huisgenoot from 1975 in the sitting room.
12. Rustic Art, Calvinia
Cost: R280 per person for self-catering flatlet (sleeps two).
Contact: Tel 0273411423, email email@example.com
Rustic Art, also known as The Junkyard, Karoo Blues or Rusthouse is at the end of Stigling Street. More accommodation is being built, but for now it’s just one self-catering flatlet (sleeps two). Be aware that this is where you come for music ‒ whether it’s Beethoven in the morning, or blues in the evening ‒ is a fixture.
13. Tarantula Guest House, Calvinia
Cost: R890 for the family suite (sleeps four)
Contact: Tel 0836437277, tarantulaguesthouse.co.za
Tarantula Guest House is a great self-catering spot for families. The larger family suite is surprisingly affordable and comes with a private swimming pool.
14. Die Ark B&B, Williston
Cost: From R230 per person sharing per night, including breakfast.
Contact: Tel 0533913659, die-ark.tripod.com
This interesting building, dating back to the early 1900s, has been transformed into a unique B&B thanks to the artistic flair of the owners. The rooms are very elegantly furnished and facilities include a telescope for guests to stargaze, a lapa, braai area and a small swimming pool.
Photoblog: road trip through the Great Karoo