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Heaven is a place on earth – great family holidays
Text: Marion Garassino and Monique Hurlin.
Source: This article is taken from the October 2011 issue of Living and Loving Magazine.
We found two family holiday gems, Die Kloofhuis on Koelfontein Farm in Ceres, and Mont-Aux-Sources Resort in the Drakensberg – places you can’t bear to leave and can’t wait to return to.
Die Kloofhuis, Koelfontein
I’ve always loved farm life, so I was thrilled to visit Koelfontein Farm in the Ceres region, a primarily fruit growing farm which has been in the Conradie family since 1832.
The drive to the farm is a visual indulgence of smoky mountains, valleys of patchwork greens, oranges, reds and yellows, little streams bubbling over after the heavy rains, in amongst tall grasses and rocks where you could imagine sitting for hours.
Die Kloofhuis is a three-bedroomed self-catering guesthouse, specifically designed for families and close friends wanting a real farm-life experience. It’s perfect for children, who’ll love to play freely and visit the little lambs, cows and horses. I loved the mix of traditional finishes and warm, homely feel with modern convenience.
I smiled at the sight of the charmingly old-fashioned sash windows, ball and claw bath, fireplace in the kitchen, pitcher and bowl in the rooms, wooden beams and thatch roof, and outdoor shower – not to mention a lovely stoep, braai area and herb garden with spectacular views! There’s almost a meditational silence with only the gentle melody of birds.
After settling into our welcoming, comfortable rooms, we took a walk in the fresh farm air and enjoyed the comical antics of the little lambs, only days old. The horses came so close that we could swap stories through our windows to the soul. Afterwards, we settled in front of a crackling fire and a hot pot of tea with scones. I can’t remember a time when I felt more relaxed – I even nodded off while sitting cross-legged on the carpet with my back to the warm fire!
It was magical to wake up the next morning to the magnificent vistas of the vast land and mountains. After breakfast, we were treated to a visit to the farm’s factory, At Source, where the fruit is dried, processed and distributed, and where their brand, Cecilia’s World, inspired by little Cecilia Conradie, comes together. Apart from the softest dried fruit ever, they produce the most delicious nuts I’ve tasted, using the nuts’ own oils, with natural herbs and spices.
The next day, our specially organised tour of the farm provided fascinating insight into the world of fruit farming. We then shared in the opening of Koelfontein’s new wine-tasting venue, which is built on the land’s first farm dwelling, and is decked out with huge wine vats and original wine-pressing equipment. We were the first to taste their latest award-winning Koelfontein Chardonnay and Shiraz, which are truly deserving of their accolades.
A specially prepared dinner was a delightful affair, starting with pea soup with an interesting twist of tarragon, and fresh bread; steamed veggies, and squares of feta cheese cooked with sundried tomatoes, lentils and thyme, complemented by the wines we’d tasted earlier. And to finish, home-baked apple, pear and nut crumble with fresh cream – truly mouth-watering!
On our last day, we braved a 4X4 trek up the protea-lined path into the mountains to find the farm’s natural spring water source, which provides the water for the farm – you even have your own spring water on tap!
I loved the breathtaking 360° views, exploring the protected fynbos, and also finding evidence of little porcupines that had scampered around earlier.
Handri and Noelani Conradie reflect the essence of old-fashioned hospitality, and provided a truly memorable experience of Die Kloofhuis and the farm. I’d encourage anyone to visit and create their own special memories of this beautiful place.
Things to do at Koelfontein and beyond
- Wine tasting at Koelfontein
- A tour of the farm on foot
- Explore the fynbos on foot or mountain bike
- An outstanding bird watching experience
- Mountain biking
- Hiking around the farm or on the Christie Prins trail into the mountains
- Fruit Packhouse tour
- Matroosberg Mountain Reserve for guided 4×4 trips
- Klondyke Cherry Farm for cherry picking
- Rock paintings at Stadsaal Caves, Wolfberg Skeure and Maltese Cross
Rates for the Kloofhuis
Daily rate: R750 for cottage;
Weekends, holiday season and public holidays: R950
Room with a view
There’s nothing quite as therapeutic as the crisp mountain air and breathtaking views of the Drakensberg Mountains. And if you and your family need to get away, then the Orion Mont-Aux-Sources Resort is an amazing family holiday destination. Situated in the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountain Range, and less than a four-hour drive from Johannesburg or Durban, the resort allows you to enjoy the most incredible views of The Amphitheatre.
27 of the hotel’s rooms have recently been renovated, and they’ve left no tile unturned. With flat screen TVs, luxurious showers and welcoming touches to all the rooms, not to mention the first-class scenery, you’ll definitely find it easy to kick back, relax, and enjoy some family bonding. A maximum of two children under the age of 12 can stay in the same room as a paying adult – the hotel will just put extra beds in the room. The resort also has 16 self-catering chalets that can each sleep six people. Each chalet has its own kitchen, lounge with a fireplace, patio and braaiing facilities, so you can relax in this mini home-away-from-home.
While you’re at the resort, why not take the time to teach the youngsters some chess on the outside chess board with its giant pieces? Alternatively, the whole family can enjoy some mini golf, splash around in the swimming pool or baby pool, take a look at the animals at the animal farm, or relax a bit in the games room. There’s even a kiddies’ activity room, with childminders ready to look after the littlies. A babysitter can also be arranged for children of any age, even babies, so that you and hubby can enjoy some time out at the hotel’s bar.
There are loads of different activities to try out in the area, and because Mont-Aux-Sources is so centrally located, there’s easy access to all of them. Who says that kids can’t learn while they’re on holiday?
Teach your kids about our country’s rich history at The Royal Natal Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site, where you can see the Sigubudu Bushmen paintings. While you’re in the Drakensberg, the best thing to do is to explore the exquisite wilderness. Grab a pair of binoculars and your chosen guide to all natural things South African, and get the kids to identify as many birds, animals or plants as they can. The hotel can even whip up a tasty picnic basket for you to take with on your explorations. If hiking isn’t quite your thing, why not venture out on horseback? Children under 12 even get their own specially led ride around the stable yard! If all that exercise still isn’t quite up your alley, you can take a helicopter tour. Can you imagine the views from up there?
The hotel’s buffet dinner, with its distinct South African flair, is made with local produce, and will definitely have you running for seconds. You can enjoy mouth-watering roasts, pumpkin soup, sweet veggies and, of course, dangerously delectable desserts! You can also ask for a kiddies menu.
A standard room is R759 per person, including dinner, bed and breakfast; a superior room (with mountain views) is R959 per person sharing, including dinner, bed and breakfast.
Children younger than 12 stay free in the same room as paying adults, and children from the ages of five to 12 only pay 50% for meals.
A self-catering chalet will cost you R1 990 per night during high season, or R1499 per night during low season.
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