Portfolio's custom publishing architect, Heather, discovers the charm of Zuurberg on the border of Addo Elephant Park as she and her family make their way from the Karoo to Eastern Cape.
Oudtshoorn to Addo Zuurberg via Willowmore
This was one of the longer stretches, but after our early start the kids were able to nap. We decided to take the ‘road less travelled’ and travel through Willowmore. The scenery was becoming more Great Karoo-like – vast open spaces and endless sky – it was tonic after city life. Quick lunch stop in Willowmore, which was doing a surprisingly brisk Sunday lunch trade and onto the next stretch.
Would you believe that the R329 between Willowmore and Steytlerville is mostly a strip road! Who knew! It was certainly entertaining to watch the kids’ faces when there was a car coming in the opposite direction – fortunately there were so few.
It was late in the afternoon when we were climbing the twisty road up to Zuurberg Mountain Village. The hairpin bends are made up for by the stunning views of thickly forested mountains and valleys. Arriving at Zuurberg is like breaking through the clouds. Perched on a ridge with valleys on either side it has a wonderful location. It was tantalising to think that below us stretched the Addo Elephant National Park and wild animals were just an arm’s length away. But that was for tomorrow.
Stepping through the doors at Zuurberg it was lovely to see a crackling fire – complete with reclining cats – warming the reception area. We were going to be staying in the Mountain Village which consists of quaint semi-detached cottages decorated in pastel colours. The rooms are generously-sized, with stunning blackwood floors and picture views over the surrounding mountains. The large, en-suite bathrooms have underfloor heating and inside and outside showers. Not to mention large claw-foot baths. Pretty floral decorations give the cottages a soft, homely feel.
The kids shot off to take advantage of the tennis courts situated just below our rooms – all that sitting in the car needed a release. My husband and I took advantage of watching them while enjoying a sherry from the carafe in our room. They played while the sky turned pink and only stopped when they could no longer see the ball. Time to enjoy those bathrooms!
We walked quickly over to the Main Building for dinner as the temperature was dropping rapidly. A bit of a shock after our cosy rooms! Dinner is served in the restaurant and is a 3-course buffet. Homemade tomato soup hit the spot, followed by a selection of roasts, desserts and cheese. The olde-worlde feel of the Main Building adds to the atmosphere of time slowing down. The reasonably priced wine list offers a good choice to accompany dinner.
Happily full, we braced the cold and dashed to the cottages, briefly enjoying the starlit sky on the way. After a very comfortable night, at breakfast we were spoiled for choice with cereals, fruits, eggs and bacon, scones and more. The friendly staff make each meal time a pleasure. It was however, time to go and meet the animals of Addo, so we packed up and were happily surprised to find our car had been washed. I can imagine a longer stay here and I have my eye on the horse trails into Addo, then returning to Zuurberg for a welcome dip in their lovely pool – in summer, of course!