Looking for an affordable weekend break in the Karoo? These cottages and guest farms are some of our favourites and all under R500 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. Papkuilsfontein, Niewoudtville
Cost: R500 per person self-catering and a minimum R1000 per night if you are a single person.
Contact: 0272181246, papkuilsfontein.com
There’s beauty in the stark landscape of Papkuilsfontein, a sheep and rooibos farm in the Northern Cape where Jaco and Alrie van Wyk will entertain with an arsenal of stories (ask about the time lightning struck so hard a cow had a heart attack). The family started farming here in 1838 and they have restored the historic cottages set two kilometres from the farmhouse not only to host guests, but also to leave behind another story for generations to come. Solar and wind power keep the farm running while gas powers the geyser, stove and fridge. All three cottages are fully equipped to self cater.
2. Rietpoort Herberg, Victoria West
Cost: From R330 per room, R900 for the cottage (sleeps six).
Contact: Tel 0832714663, placesforafrica.com
This historic family farm is about 30 kilometres from Victoria West on a quiet road to Britstown, and chances are you’ll see something here you’ve never encountered before. The dolerite outcrops dotting the farm brim with petroglyphs (carved by the San) dating back to the Stone Age period. Something that really will blow your mind is the ‘Bushman’s Piano’, a stack of igneous volcanic rocks formed from silica-rich rhyolite. ‘Play’ the individual rocks with a stone and five bell-clear musical notes will resound across the Bo-Karoo plains, taking you back to a time of moonlight trance dances.
3. Anysberg Nature Reserve, Ladismith
Cost: Self-catering from R580 a night (sleeps two) and camping R170 a night per site.
Contact: Tel 0214830190, capenature.co.za.
Anysberg Nature Reserve is located in the semi-arid Klein Karoo, between the towns of Ladismith, Laingsburg, Touwsrivier and Montagu. There are impeccable camping grounds under towering gum trees and five equipped self-catering cottages. Besides the mesmerising landscape and rich plant and animal life, the reserve is also home to San rock art, painted thousands of years ago and there is no cell phone reception on the reserve. All of this makes an amazing recipe for peace and solitude.
Also read: an epic route over two Karoo passes.
4. Brakdakkie, Prince Albert
Cost: From R330 per person self-catering
Contact: Tel 0835614966, karooluigi.com
Previously a donkey shed, tool room and dairy barn, the cottages carry their past only in the small windows and thick walls. The interiors are entirely refurbished in white for a bright, fresh feel. Each cottage has a private patio and splash pool, so it never feels like you’re on top of your neighbour. Two of the cottages sleep two people each and the third sleeps four. They have only kitchenettes, but you’ll find a list of Prince Albert’s restaurants (all about a 10-minute walk down the road) on the table when you arrive. Follow the map or simply walk down the town’s broad main road and pick one along the way.
5. Karoo Moon Motel, Barrydale
Cost: From R400 per person sharing.
Contact: Tel 0285721226, dieselandcreme.co.za
This great hotel has gorgeous themed rooms in a quirky building with many nooks to explore (Room 15 has a great bath). Situated on the iconic Route 62, photo ops abound! Hang around the rusted old fuel pumps in front of the motel and don’t leave without having a milkshake.
6. Kambrokind Skrywershuisie and Saffraan Farm, Sutherland
Cost: From R395 per person sharing.
Contact: Tel 0235711481, sutherlandinfo.co.za
With roughly 32 guest houses, you’re spoilt for choice in Sutherland. Kambrokind Skrywershuisie is a cosy cottage with thoughtful touches such as a hot-water bottle, electric blanket and heater – all perfect winter treats. Hosts Jurg and Rita Wagener also own a charming sandstone farmhouse called Saffraan on Middelfontein Farm just outside town if you really want to appreciate the stars!
7. Sunset View guest house and campsite, Douglas
Cost: R380 per person per night sharing for en-suite rooms, R300 a night for camping for 4 people.
Contact: Tel 0823769771, safarinow.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.
8. Kambro Cottage, Graaff-Reinet
Cost: R350 per person sharing.
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.
9. 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.
10. De Kothuize, Graaff-Reinet
Cost: From R460 per person sharing (the rate lessens the more people there are).
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.
11. Rothman Street, Graaff-Reinet
Cost: From R420 per person sharing.
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.
Also read: Best biltong stops in the Karoo
12. Allemann se Huisie, Nieu-Bethesda
Cost: From R290 per person.
Contact: Tel 0498411642, safarinow.com
Small and self-contained, this cottage sits in a pleasant garden in the heart of Nieu-Bethesda. Have a delcious braai on the patio and watch the sunset before being dazzled by the famously starry night sky.
13. Matjies Motel, Matjiesfontein
Cost: From R425 per person sharing.
Contact: Tel 0235613011, matjiesfontein.com
Decent rooms set inside the gardens of the famous Lord Milner Hotel. Be sure to grab a drink at the adjacent Laird’s Arms too (ask nicely and the barman might even whip out the disco ball).
14. Glen Avon Guest Farm, Somerset East
Cost: Self-catering from R350 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
15. Bergzight Cottage , Karoo
Cost: From R300 per person.
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.
16. Wolverfontein , Ladismith
Cost: Self-catering in D’Waenhuis is R300 per person sharing (weekdays) and R325 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.
17. Mount Noah Lodge, Oudtshoorn
Cost: From R300 per person.
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? Mount Noah Lodge in Oudtshoorn is 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).
Also see: Awesome weekend break – Desert Wind in the Klein Karoo
18. Hantam Huis, Calvinia
Cost: From R395 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. It’s a little like being in an elaborate, person-sized dollhouse with a brass four-poster bed frame and squeaky floorboards. Look out for the Huisgenoot from 1975 in the sitting room.
19. Rustic Art, Calvinia
Cost: R325 per person for self-catering flatlet (sleeps two).
Contact: Tel 0273411423, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Rustic Art, also known as The Junkyard, Karoo Blues or Rusthouse is at the end of Stigling Street. We loved the one self-catering flatlet that sleeps two. Be aware that this is where you come for music ‒ whether it’s Beethoven in the morning, or blues in the evening, it’s a fixture.
20. Tarantula Guest House, Calvinia
Cost: R345 per person.
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.
21. Die Ark B&B, Williston
Cost: From R300 per person sharing per night, including breakfast.
Contact: Tel 0533913659, safarinow.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. Rooms are 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
22. Starry Nights Karoo Cottages, Philippolis
Cost: From R750 a night (sleeps two).
Contact: Tel 0517730063, starrynights.co.za
Starry Nights Karoo Cottages are five perfectly restored historical homes with wooden floors, Victorian bathtubs, quaint stoeps and tranquil gardens.
Also read: Secret village: why you should visit Philippolis.
23. Karoo Cottage, Sneeuberg
Cost: Between R400 to R500 per person and sleeps up to six people.
Contact: Tel 0768113418, sneeuberg.com.
Comfortable and unpretentious, this three-bedroom, semi-stone cottage is on the same werf as The Poplars farmhouse nearby. The kitchen-dining room has a the table set in front of a large raised hearth and is a real highlight. This is what Karoo escape truly feels like.