This is one of the best pet friendly places we have had the good fortune of visiting. Situated just outside Bredasdorp it’s a pleasant drive from Cape Town and absolute doggy heaven.
The cottage is surrounded by green fields and the view of the dam from the stoep is comforting, amazing and peaceful. Especially if you are lying in the hammock after a good walk. A little stream flows through the forest behind the cottage and once across it there’s a nice hike up to the top of the SoutMuis mountains that overlook the area. There are lots of friendly cows about so your dogs need to be familiar with livestock.
Part of the welcome includes fresh farm milk in the fridge, rusks and a complimentary bottle of wine. What stood out for me though was that there are so many lamps and each lamp had a box of matches with it so you never had to search. There is also plenty of wood provided to fire up the donkey for shower time. I was amazed at how long the water stayed hot.
A lot of love and care went into making this cottage comfortable and homely. We really enjoyed our time at Bergen Dam and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Honeywood Farm near Heidelberg will have you relaxing from the moment you arrive. We stayed at Hunter’s Lodge, a converted labourer’s cottage perched on top of a hill. Rustic and comfortable you have perfect views to savour and long walks to enjoy. It’s well know amongst the mountain biking community and has a few nice long routes for cycling.
Accommodation wise there are a few cottages at the main farmhouse, a barn type building when you have large numbers and then Hunter’s Lodge and Woody’s which are more private and isolated. Now, we all know what bacon and braaivleis smell like to us so you can imagine what it smells like to a hound, a scent hound. This means I generally try and book cottages that are more private so Daks can have the freedom to explore without me having to be concerned that he’s inviting himself to dine with the neighbours.
Daks and I enjoyed long walks every morning and afternoon and really enjoyed our stay. The stars at night have nothing to dim their lustre and beauty and Honeywood is far enough off the beaten track to be completely quiet and peaceful at night.
We spent much of the beautiful, still winter days on the deck appreciating the view. Do be aware that the cows here are pretty friendly so your dogs do need to be well behaved around livestock. Also, I think if you are taking a dog with Hunter’s may be the better choice between Hunter’s and Woody’s because, although we didn’t see any baboons, we heard them in the forest near Woody’s. We also spotted some hare’s on our evening walks which were cause for much excitement and a chance to practice recalls with ‘extreme’ distractions :)
On our last morning there, there was some heavy cloud cover and then the mist rolled in. Fantastic.
I’ve done Nursery Ravine a few times in the past but Daks and I haven’t done it together. We tackled it on Sunday and enjoyed the walk but did find it a little restrictive with all the leash laws and no dog pathways from Kirstenbosch Gardens. I guess we’ve just been spoilt with all the off leash walks we enjoy in the area.
We entered at Rycroft Gate, entrance is R55 for adults and you need your Activity Card for your dog to gain entry. We headed up to the left on the dog walking path, continuing left into a portion of Cecelia Forest where the dogs could be off lead. It was a brilliant, sunny day and not too warm with no wind so we had a lovely walk.
Daks had some doggy company as his ‘cousin’, Riley the labby, and family were with us.
Once you get down to the Ravine, it’s all dogs on lead and quite a steep ascent and descent. So I wouldn’t recommend it if your dog is super strong and pulls on leash ;)
We enjoyed the walk but I can’t see it becoming a regular one for us. Society places so many restrictions on our dogs, often with good reason and for their safety, that I’d rather spend our weekend walks in places where there is more freedom for well behaved and well socialised dogs.
I’m including a map of the on leash/no dog areas for your convenience.
We had an amazing weekend away at the Tented Camp at Buffalo Drift. Generally we hire a cottage when we go away and this was our first time ‘glamping’. It was wonderful and peaceful next to the river and while I thought it may be cold at night we slept nice and snug and found the tent very comfortable.
The days saw us taking long walks and we were amazed by the variety there in terms of the vegetation. The farm is exceptionally neat and tidy and everything is very well maintained. An added plus it that it’s just outside Gouda so a really quick drive from Cape Town enabling you to maximize the use of your time away.
Each tent has a canoe with paddles really, if walking is your thing, there’s loads of space and the walks are all flat so the entire family can join in. Definitely a repeat destination for us.
In the Western Cape we’re fortunate in the variety of places we can take our dogs for nature walks. The Grootbos turnoff is on the road between Stanford and Gansbaai. It’s a pleasant dirt road and one of the special places it leads to is the amazing Flower Valley Farm. Flower Valley Farm is the home of the Flower Valley Conservation Trust which is a registered Non-profit organisation. Situated only 220km from Cape Town and with pet friendly accommodation in the area, this makes it a perfect destination for a weekend away.
When researching the area for our visit to Platbos Forest, I discovered Flower Valley which is dog friendly and has five hiking routes to choose from. The routes range from three to seven kilometers in distance, we opted for the seven kilometer Stinkhoutsforest Trail. You head up the hill for magnificent views and then down into the valley and through the Afromontane Forest. I’ve seldom encountered so much variety on a single walk.
There’s a stream that runs through the forest with some tables and chairs under the trees that would be perfect for a picnic. Remember the tabard and bug spray as there can be quite a few miggies around, depending on the time of year.
There are a couple of old rouge baboons that hang out near the offices so keep your dogs on lead on arrival. The farm manager, Mariana, is very helpful and will tell you where they on the day. They make a big show of being brave but keep their distance so were not a problem for us. This is a superb doggy destination and one I’ll be keeping on my list for future visits.
March saw us tootling off along the R43 again to visit Platbos Forest. Platbos forest is the southern most indigenous forest in Africa and had been on my list to visit for a long time. Situated between Stanford and Gansbaai, it’s also the perfect distance for a weekend break. There’s a once off payment for pets of R100 which, I think you’ll agree, is very reasonable.
We booked the Old Olive Cabin as it was secluded and away from the rest of the cabins and the camp site. In fact, you need to park your vehicle and cart your things down to the cabin in a wheel barrow. This, of course, added to the appeal. If you take you doggy with do be careful though as the nursery is close to Old Olive Cabin and when we were there it was littered with broken glass and bones. Having a foody dog I had to watch Daks like a hawk as the bones were calling him, not too difficult if he’d had a good walk and was snoozing.
The forest itself is lovely but smaller than I anticipated so we did end up walking the same route fairly often. Daks didn’t mind this but I was looking for a bit more variety so we also visited Flower Valley across the way which was breath taking. More about this in a later post.
Be warned, the mosquitoes and biting flies at Platbos are tough! I took Tabbard and Tabbard candles to burn plus camp spray insect repellent and they had a good chomp anyway. Be sure to back lightweight long sleeves and pants to protect you. Lucky for us it was cool and we had quite a bit of rain. In fact, there were some lovely downpours at night which made snuggling down in bed very inviting. Do be aware that the loo is a long drop and the shower is heated by a donkey boiler. Both these facilities are a little away from the cabin itself.
Daks and I don’t do hot weather, so the heat of summer has us looking for cooler places to visit. We found just the spot at Joos se Klip in Franskraal. This spacious two bedroom house has a fully enclosed yard and a huge deck out front overlooking the sea. Although a large or motivated dog would manage to jump over the fence, Daks was quite happy to nap between all the walks and activities.
The beach is on leash but was so quiet in the morning that we could dispense with the leash. Daks has a good recall and there wasn’t anyone for him to bother. There were a few other dogs on the beach at times so he could have a game and when we got near to any dog-less people I slipped his leash back on.
Franskraal is so quiet and I cannot recall when last I saw an inhabited place that is so clean and litter free. It was such a pleasure walking there. It’s close to Pearly Beach so we popped down there to have a walk and also visited Uilenkraal River.
This is a great weekend destination as it’s not too far from Cape Town and the scenery along the R43 between Hermanus and Franskraal is lovely.
Regular readers may remember that we discovered this magical place when we were staying at Klondyke Cherry Farm. It almost instantly moved to the top of my ‘must visit’ list. We booked for a weekend at the end of November and had a fantastic time. I’d recommend either the Goatherd House or 50 Shades of Green as both are very private and secluded.
50 Shades is smaller with one bedroom and sleeps four whilst the Goatherds House sleeps six so this is something to keep in mind. We chose 50 Shades, basically because the little veranda looked inviting and I loved the grass and very natural feeling of the place. We were not disappointed. With minimal cell phone reception on the Vodacom network and none on MTN, peace and quiet is a given.
An important point to remember is to take extra dog food with. You stand a good chance of having an extra guest for the evening. Janey is sure to meet you and escort you to your cabin. She’s a great tour guide and loves to accompany guests on their hikes.
Little Lukas was as absolute sweetheart, loved cuddles, and also spent the night with us, she has sadly passed on since our visit. Lukas was quite a hero at Matroosberg and escorted folks off the mountain during a white out. Her owner told me how all the students could see during that time was the black of her coat as she led them to safety.
The hiking is amazing with wonderful views. On the Friday we did a general mooch around for about 2 hours and on the Saturday we walked to the waterfall, up the valley and on the Sunday to the Rock pools so there is some nice variety.
While we were at the rock pools it started to rain. It was wonderful to watch the storm arrive.
For those that prefer camping, there are two camp sites, one of which is pet friendly.
Enjo Nature Farm was on our list for a visit for quite awhile. I wanted to spend more than a weekend there and also wanted to go during flower season to see the spectacular show put on by nature. We went there during August 2015 and were not disappointed. In fact, we didn’t want to leave. This is pooch paradise in the extreme!
After traversing the beautiful Pakhuis Pass just other side Clanwilliam, we descended into the Biedouw Valley via Hoek se Berg pass. It looked as if an artist had passed through before us with his magical brush loaded with yellow, orange and purple. The flowers lay in huge swatches across the valley. Beautiful and already worth the trip.
With the rustic accommodation, full moon, spring flowers and only the sound of your footfall, your dog’s breathing, the river and the baboons in the distance, this really is a place to unwind and restore both mind, body and soul. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
I think the pictures will say it better than I can. It was a unique experience. The real Africa, as I always envisaged it.
Today it’s like winter and we’re enjoying the rain that’s bucketing down here at the moment. I must admit, I’m hoping it will ease off a little so we can go and walk on our mountain. It’s a bit crazy but a few weeks ago, when we had that heat wave here in Cape Town, I was searching for a place to walk where our winter souls wouldn’t suffer too much. I consulted Mike Lundy’s Easy Walks In The Cape Peninsula and decided we’d try De Hel in Constantia. It seemed appropriate since it was ‘as hot as hell’ and it proved to be a good decision.
The walk is easily accessible from the small parking spot on Constantia Main Road, just down the hill from Constantia Nek. From the board you head right and loop around.
Most of the walk is in shade and there was quite a bit of water in the stream. I would still carry water though as the walk takes about an hour. We actually spent about an hour and a half, taking time to appreciate the sights and smells all around us.
Being a fairly short walk of about 4km, I was amazed at the variety along the walk. Lots of thick vegetation along the stream and very heavy overhead cover in places. The forest section itself has the typical forest floor and the many little wooden bridges crossing the stream provide added interest for a doggy nose, and brain, to investigate.
Along the path at the top where you circle back and head towards the parking spot, the jasmine grows high up into the trees and the smell is really amazing. We had a great walk at De Hel and we’ll most certainly be going back soon.