Portfolio's custom publishing architect, Heather, visits some of our family-friendly places with her husband and two girls on their trip through the Karoo and Eastern Cape.
Cape Town to Oudtshoorn via Route 62
Roadtrip….a word to strike fear in the hearts of children. Picture hours in the car, dull scenery and Mom and Dad’s music. I promised them it would not be like that. We had planned an ambitious itinerary – of one-night stays in, arguably, some of the coldest places in South Africa. We planned 5 stops, each in a place far from the maddening crowd! Our last two winter holidays had been in KZN, so now it was time to experience the bite of a Karoo winter.
We thought the best way to keep the kids onside was to split the journey in two and stop for lunch at Barrydale. Travelling through the Tradouw Pass to get to Barrydale really puts you in a holiday mood. Diesel and Crème came up as a great place to make the first pitstop. This funky restaurant serves up memorable milkshakes and has a good choice of food. We enjoyed the eclectic décor and efficient service.
Onward to Oudtshoorn and our destination of De Zeekoe Guest Farm. Now, as a family we have done much of what Oudtshoorn has to offer – Cango Caves, tick, Cango Wildlife Ranch, tick, ostriches, tick – all awesome experiences, but it was time for something different. De Zeekoe, offers Meerkat Adventures, a glimpse into the world of one of the Shy 5. We couldn’t wait.
Arriving at De Zeekoe we received a warm welcome (we loved the little touch of an arrivals blackboard with our name on it!) and delicious cups of tea served in the lounge which is decorated with gorgeous cushions fringed in ostrich feather. After refreshments, we set off down the farm road to the rustic Lake Cabins where we were going to stay. Sadly, the drought in the Western Cape has affected the lake level and the water was quite low. It did not deter us from basking in a gorgeous sunset.
The Lake Cabin has a rustic feel but is comfortable and well equipped. Being self-catering it has all you need to prepare a meal. The cabin also has a huge fireplace and air-conditioning to keep things comfortable. A lovely, warm shower, fresh clothes and we were ready for dinner. The restaurant is modern and the tables spaciously laid out. Big glass windows have a view of the distant mountains. The menu has something for everyone and my ostrich steak was perfectly done. Our friendly waiter made the kids feel special and it rounded off a lovely evening. On the 5-minute drive back to the cabin we were lucky enough to see a scrub hare shortly followed by an owl. We were ready for bed and the turn down service had switched on the electric blankets and prepared the beds. Bliss!
6am and our Meerkat Adventure was starting. We quickly packed and drove to the rendezvous point, 7km from De Zeekoe. The sun was just rising as we gathered for the briefing around hot coffee and rusks. After a short walk through the veld we were settled onto our camp chairs with blankets to guard against the chill. No more than 5 minutes later and we were rewarded by the sight of the first Meerkat popping up to catch the sun. There is no guarantee on when the little guys will appear, but I was certainly grateful that we soon had the full family of 5 cavorting no more than 10 metres away from us. The guides are knowledgeable and we all came away with good insight into the world of the Meerkat and about a thousand photographs
Breakfast back at De Zeekoe was most welcome as pre-dawn adventures work up an appetite. Before leaving I had a little peek at the Honeymoon Suite and I have to say that with the huge bed, wood-burning fireplace and sweeping views I reckon I can manage a Karoo winter!
Sadly, we had to set off for the next stage of our trip, but we would love to return to try hiking or biking round the farm, swimming and stargazing. De Zeekoe offers loads of activities to keep everyone entertained. Next time…