12 pet-friendly stays on the Garden Route

Posted by Rachel Robinson on 10 March 2019

Image credit: Getty Images

The best thing Rachel Moncrieff-Robinson did was get a dog; the second best thing was taking Valentino, her Maltese cross, on road trips with her, which she has been doing for the past 10 years. This budget-friendly selection, sniffed out on a recent visit to the Garden Route, comes 100 per cent Valentino-approved.

1. Blommekloof Country Cottages (near Mossel Bay)

Image Credit: Rachel Robinson

Claude and Ali Coetzee have been welcoming pets to their 16-hectare farm for many years, and they’re fond of human guests too, so you’ll find fresh eggs waiting for you upon arrival. The two off-the-grid cottages (one sleeps four, the other sleeps eight) have fenced gardens and you are welcome to walk around the farm, or while away the day fishing at catch-and-release dams. Valentino happily accompanied me on walks through the vegetable gardens and fruit trees, while keeping a wary eye on the chickens and geese because he’s had a run-in with fowl before. There are cows, sheep and more, so keep your dogs on a leash if they’re not chilled around farm animals.

Pet Policy Well-behaved dogs (and cats, parrots and goldfish) are welcome. Contact them upfront to discuss your pet’s requirements.

Cost From R300 per person sharing; minimum two-night stay.

Contact 0824670419, blommekloof.co.za

2. Berluda Farmhouse & Cottages (near Oudtshoorn)

Image Credit: Rachel Robinson

Berluda, in the Schoemanshoek Valley, is a fairly upmarket establishment on a working ostrich farm, and I was delighted to find it has a pet-friendly cottage. The ostriches are not on your doorstep so you won’t have to worry about run-ins involving large toes and beaks. The family cottages are close to the swimming pool and have lovely stoeps with braai areas. Self-cater or book a three-course Karoo dinner in the dining room. 

Pet Policy Well-behaved dogs are welcome in the cottage but not in the dining room; there’s no fencing around any of the cottages.

Cost Pet-friendly family cottage from R2 320 B&B (sleeps five).

Contact 0442728518, berluda.co.za

3. Outeniqua Travel Lodge (George)

Image Credit: Rachel Robinson

This antique-filled, historic lodge has six large rooms that are clean and comfortable, and the  plant-filled courtyard out back is a wonderful surprise. Valentino and I spent our time there avoiding the lodge cat and meeting fellow travellers. For dinner we popped across the road to Pollock’s Pizza Café (best eisbein I’ve ever had).

Pet Policy Well-behaved pets are welcome, and pet sitting can be arranged. There are also resident dogs in addition to the cat.

Cost From R300 per person sharing.

Contact 0823167720, outeniqualodge.co.za

4. The Funny Farm Shire (Wilderness)

Image Credit: Rachel Robinson

There really is a gate to Middle Earth in Wilderness. Behind that gate you’ll enter the world of Lord of the Rings, complete with a wishing well, a marsh and forest trail. Even if you aren’t into Tolkien, it’s still a magical place with vast areas for your dogs to run. The three self-catering cob cottages (sleep two to five) are fenced so pets can’t wander off while you braai. I was completely smitten with our Hobbit House and would’ve moved in permanently given half the chance. We were a bit disappointed that Gandalf didn’t pop in for tea, but we did manage to find Gollum on our walk through Mordor…

Pet Policy All breeds and sizes of dogs are welcome, but keep them off the furniture and under control when walking on the farm.

Cost From R450 per person sharing; minimum two-night stay.

Contact 0828294601, thefunnyfarmshire.co.za

5. The Old Trading Post (Wilderness)

Image Credit: Rachel Robinson

Passers-by used to stock up here in the days before the N2 existed and the only access to the area was by ox wagon. You’ll still find everything you need here for a comfortable break from your journey. There are three cosy rooms for couples and one self-catering cottage that sleeps four (good for larger dogs). Valentino and I felt very at home in our garden cottage, and he gave the cooked breakfast a paws up! Book for the Friday-night dinner – it’s popular with the locals.

Pet Policy Dogs, cats and caged birds are welcome. There are resident dogs,
so yours must be well-socialised.

Cost Cottage from R560 per person sharing, B&B room from R610 per person sharing.

Contact 0448821207, oldtradingpost.co.za

6. Equleni Guest Farm (Sedgefield)

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At Equleni it’s just you, 21 hectares of fynbos and a magnificent view over Rondevlei and the Outeniqua Mountains. This bright, airy modern pad has every comfort for all creatures. I loved the uncapped Wi-Fi, Apple TV and the cupboard filled with condiments and treats, while Valentino chewed on a hoof that our hosts kindly left for him. We joined owner Dianne Simpson and her two energetic retrievers for a walk (she’ll also pet sit at no extra charge if you need to nip away to the shop). Note that this is tick country, so check your dogs after they’ve been frolicking in the fynbos.

Pet Policy All well-socialised dogs are welcome, but not on the furniture or beds. The resident dogs will come visit.

Cost From R375 per person sharing.

Contact 0829035170 equlenifarm.co.za

7. The Arms Restaurant & Lodge (Sedgefield)

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The quaint Old-English-style Arms is a good budget option, and it’s rather handy having a pub and a restaurant a few metres from your door! The double rooms are compact but comfortable and cheerful, and there are also self-catering family units available. I popped in for a pub lunch of homemade pie with chips for a very reasonable price, while Valentino made good use of the ‘doggie bar’.

Pet Policy One double room and the eight-sleeper self-catering unit are pet-friendly by arrangement, and dogs are welcome in the restaurant courtyard.

Cost From R375 per person sharing.

Contact 0443432201, local-info.co.za

8. The Studio @ Mount View Lodge (Sedgefield)

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This beautifully decorated, fully enclosed, modern cottage with pastoral views came with a bottle of wine – just in case the setting hadn’t already induced blissful relaxation. You can enjoy lazy afternoons reading in a hammock-chair, watch the local birdlife and forage for herbs for your dinner in the vegetable garden. It was raining so we didn’t go for a walk, but there’s a nice stroll down to the nearby dam. The owners love dogs and even provide dog beds and bowls if you forget yours at home.

Pet Policy Well-behaved dogs are welcome if they stay off the (designer) furniture and beds. The owners have dogs of their own.

Cost From R499 per person sharing (sleeps three).

Contact 0829219682, airbnb.com

9. Fern Gully Forest Cabins (Rheenendal, Knysna)

Image Credit: Rachel Robinson

The vervet monkeys came calling, thanks to me foolishly leaving fruit out for the Knysna turacos (which didn’t make an appearance). Meddling monkeys aside, the five wooden cabins on stilts in the foliage make for a tranquil escape. Each has an outdoor shower – I was relieved the vervets didn’t run off with my towel! The cabin has a gate to the stairs to keep dogs and children from wandering off into the forest, but there are no barriers on the deck and it’s quite a drop to the forest below. Valentino and I went on a lovely walk through the fenced macadamia orchard to a dam. Ticks are around, so check your dog after walkies.

Pet Policy Well-behaved dogs are welcome; the owners have dogs of their own.

Cost From R375 per person sharing (cabins sleep from two to six people).

Contact 0443884757, fern-gully.com

10. Nieu-Wherry Meadow (near Knysna)

Image Credit: Rachel Robinson

A small herd of Nguni cows, chickens and a pot-bellied pig called Petunia greeted us at this farm. With no Wi-Fi or TV, you reconnect with nature and the simple way of life, which for us included an afternoon nap, a braai under the stars and a walk to the large dam that water-loving hounds will love. The four units (which sleep up
to four) have kitchenettes and braais, with the pet-friendly ones enclosed to keep the farmyard gang safe. There’s a pool for humans, although I’m sure you and your furry friend can swim in the dam too.

Pet Policy Any dogs are welcome provided they adhere to the ‘petiquette’ rules.

Cost From R325 per person sharing.

Contact 0837108365, nieu-wherry.co.za

11. Cornerway House B&B (Plettenberg Bay)

Image Credit: Rachel Robinson

Being a gardener myself, I loved the manicured lawns, colourful flowers, trees and shrubs, while Valentino had a good time snooping about in a safe environment. The seven rooms have been carefully thought-out, with small courtyards and gates (there’s also a self-catering unit, ideal for a large group). The guest house is available for you to rustle up something in the kitchen, have a braai, swim in the pool or read in one of the lounges. Solar Beach, where dogs are allowed off the leash (look for pansy shells), is a short drive away.

Pet Policy Proudly pet-friendly, with resident dogs keen to meet guests.

Cost From R600 per person sharing B&B.

Contact 0445333190, cornerwayhouse.co.za

12. Pear Tree Cottage (Storms River)

Image Credit: Rachel Robinson

Expect a resounding welcome from the pack that lives on the property when you arrive in Storms River Village. They will follow you to your cottage and pop in for visits. Self-catering Pear Tree Cottage is nestled by a seasonal pond and is perfect for two, complete with a braai by the water’s edge. There is also a larger cottage that sleeps four. Valentino mooched about on the walkways alongside streams, and in the evening we ambled down to
a pizzeria in the village for dinner. 

Pet Policy Small dogs only (preferably one) and they must be kept off the furniture and bed.

Cost From R350 per person sharing, R50 a dog.

Contact 0824275248, pear-tree-cottage.business.site

Keep pet-friendly places sweet

We all want Lassie to come along on holiday so let’s keep establishments willing to have pets by following
the rules. Don’t allow Fluffy on the furniture, Otto off his leash or Shep to chase the sheep. Pick up doggy doo, and be honest upfront – if you say you’re bringing one spaniel, don’t arrive with four bull mastiffs. A lonely kennel awaits pets belonging to inconsiderate owners.

Pet-friendly pitstops along the way

Peregine Farmstall, Grabouw

Padloper, Riviersonderend

Delish, Heidelberg

Boerqi Bistro @ Ruiterbos Farm Stall, Mossel Bay

Getafix Garden Café, George

Pollock’s Pizza Café, George

Beejuice Café, Wilderness

Hoekwil Country Café, Hoekwil

Timberlake Organic Village, Sedgefield

Wild Oats Market (Saturdays), Sedgefield

RiverDeck Restaurant, Buffelsbaai

Flippin’ Knys, Buffelsbaai

Totties Farm Kitchen, Rheenendal

Thyme & Again Farmstall & Bakery, Plettenberg Bay

Papa Africa Pizza, Storms River Village

Marilyn’s 60s Diner, Storms River Village

Where to go walkies

Much of the Garden Route is SANParks territory and off limits to dogs, so you won’t find many forest walks available. (Staying on pet-friendly farms is the best bet for dogs that need a good stretch.) There are designated dog-friendly beaches in Mossel Bay, Wilderness, Sedgefield and Plettenberg Bay, and zones that require leashes or not. These are clearly marked on signs and in a brochure, available at pet-friendly places, or call a SANParks office (Wilderness 044-877-0046). Some beaches are open to dogs only in low season or off-peak hours. Rules must be adhered to otherwise you face heavy fines.

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