Staying at a big hotel or resort is great, they’ve got all sorts of fancy-pants amenities like swimming pools, bars, and gyms, but that whole experience can often start to feel a little contrived and the opposite of relaxing when the hotel is teeming with people. If I really want to relax and get away from it all, I find that heading off-the-beaten-track to a little house in the middle of nowhere works like a charm. With country views to die for and old-school charm up the wazoo, the Matjiesvlei Guestfarm in Calitzdorp is the epitome of off-the-beaten-track and it’s where I finally achieved “serenity now” this past December holiday.
If you like your time-off with a little bit of history and a whole lot of peace-and-quiet, then these beautifully refurbished self-catering holiday cottages in Calitzdorp are just what you’ve been searching for. Located 375km from Cape Town on the Nel family farm, the Matjiesvlei cottages date back to as early as the 1900s and offer a fascinating look into the history of the area as well as a generous helping of natural beauty. From exploring the farm’s Old Post Office Museum (the first Post Office in the area) to bird watching, and enjoying a scenic walk to the nearby river, there’s plenty to do at the Matjiesvlei Guestfarm.
My family and I stayed at the Huis Oppie Rant and Die Wa-Huis, two super cute cottages just a stone’s throw away from each other, for three nights in December and it was nothing short of magical. Die Huis Oppie Rant sleeps 6 people and dates back to the 1900s. With gas lighting, a fully stocked kitchen, and plenty of character, this three-bedroom farmhouse is perfect for a family getaway. If you need more space, you can also rent Die Wa-Huis just next door which sleeps an additional two people. This converted wagon house is beautifully furnished and is the ideal cottage for a couple with a sense of adventure. The house doesn’t have electricity, so you’ll have to light your way with gas lanterns at night, but it does offer hot showers (thanks to an old school donkey fireplace/water heater located next to the house), a spectacular braai area with a view of the valley, and a fully stocked kitchen.
Most of my family decided to spend their days in Calitzdorp hiking and exploring, but I chose to while away the hours admiring the breathtaking views and soaking up the rejuvenating tranquillity from the stoep of Die Wa-Huis. Perched on a reclining chair with a good book in hand and a glass of wine by my side, those three days were by far the best part of my entire December holiday. I did, however, muster up the energy to take a pleasant walk to the farm’s dam and Dam River Camp not too far from where we were staying. With modern ablution blocks, flushing toilets and hot water, the shady 4×4 bush camp on the banks of the Gamka River offers the ideal place for adventure-seekers to rough it for a few days in isolation.
I also tore myself away from my book for a little while to explore the Old Post Office Museum on the farm – what a treat that was! History buffs will love this little piece of the past which gives visitors a glimpse into what life was like for the residents of Calitzdorp back in the 1900s. The Old Post Office features a wide collection of nick-nacks and memorabilia collected over the years by owners Bennie and Selma Nel, and even houses the area’s first telephone! We spent ages in this building eyeing the bits and bobs that made up everyday life in Calitzdorp and South Africa many years ago.
Before heading to Calitzdorp, I was feeling burnt out and incredibly over 2017 as a whole. I was itching to put away my smartphone, disconnect from social media, and quite literally get away from it all. After three magical nights at the Matjiesvlei Guestfarm, I felt like a new woman. I was rejuvenated and ready to tackle the craziness of the holidays. There’s no doubt about it, this spot is like comfort food for your soul and Rescue Remedy for your stress levels. Now that I think about it, three nights at this incredible place just wasn’t enough and I will undoubtedly be heading back for another serving of Matjiesvlei medicine very soon!
The Matjiesvlei Guestfarm offers 6 guest cottages for rental as well as a 4×4 campsite. Accommodation at Matjiesvlei Guestfarm cottages costs R320. per person per night. Children under 12 years – R150. For more information on the Matjiesvlei Cottages and to book a stay at Matjiesvlei Guestfarm website here.
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After years of working as an Editor and writer for popular websites like Joburg’s Darling, Cape Town’s Darling and Joburg.co.za, Crystal left her sanity and an established career in lifestyle journalism behind to follow her dream of creating a website for the intellectual and discerning woman. Today she spends her time chasing the thrill of being the first to know about ‘the next big thing’. She’ll try anything once and has been known to put her body, hair and health on the line – all in the name of research.