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Why did we hand pick The Retreat at Groenfontein?

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  • Incredibly beautiful, secluded setting tucked behind Karoo hills
  • Charming Victorian stylings and elegant, luxurious rooms
  • Numerous outdoorsy attractions in the region

The Retreat at Groenfontein

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Price tier (pps): R200  R1500+

Child policy: All ages

22km from Calitzdorp

 

-33.4377, 21.7882

About

With no cellphone reception or rumbling traffic, the experience at The Retreat at Groenfontein is all about allowing the spectacular natural surrounds and warm Klein Karoo atmosphere to soothe away the worries of modern life. 

Set in green gardens surrounded by an unspoilt wonderland of rugged mountains and crystal rivers, the Victorian house is decorated in a charming Klein Karoo style, featuring reed ceilings, interesting antiques and Oregon pine floors. The house offers ample opportunity for blissful indoor relaxation in fire-warmed communal areas, and tranquil outdoor relaxation on patios, verandahs and seating areas under the trees.   

Accommodation consists of three double rooms in the main house, and a further five rooms and suites in beautifully-converted outbuildings. Two of the main house rooms have Queen-size beds and en-suite showers, while the third has twins with a shower over a bath, and all three open onto patios with views of the gardens and mountains.

Guests in the outbuilding rooms are treated to majestic views of the Swartberg Mountains from furnished verandahs. During the chilly Karoo winters, fireplaces keep the comfy sitting areas cosy.

The converted creamery plays host to a spacious double room with a King-size bed and en-suite shower (convertible to twins) leading onto a patio with views of the garden and surrounding hills. In the old weaving shed, the small garden room offers the same amenities and similarly majestic views. A larger room in the weaving shed can sleep an extra guest in a single bed and has a bathroom with a huge Victorian bath and shower. In the milking shed, families will be perfectly happy sleeping in two suites with King/twin beds and two single beds in the generously-sized lounge area. The full bathroom has another grand Victorian bath and large shower, along with double basins.

The Retreat has a strong environmental ethos, with power to all the rooms supplied by solar energy. There are therefore no fridges, but ice and cold drinks can be supplied on request. Only the outbuilding rooms have ceiling fans, but the mountainous location ensures that temperatures remain cool throughout the night.

In the interests of preserving the precious peace and quiet, the rooms do not have televisions, but the one in the guest lounge can be used to keep restless children occupied. 

In keeping with Karoo tradition, food plays a starring role during a stay at The Retreat. Days start with a hearty country feast on the terrace, and end with a sublime three or four-course dinner, with Karoo lamb dishes and local Cape specialties being especially popular. An emphasis is placed on keeping things healthy, and any special dietary requirements can be accommodated. Balmy summer nights allow the evening meal to be savoured on the verandah in the company of an unspoilt night sky, while winter sees guests eating in the fire-warmed dining room.

When not relaxing at the house, guests can walk or mountain bike along kilometres of beautiful paths winding through the mountains, before cooling off in the river’s lovely rock pools. 

Calitzdorp and its hot springs, wine cellars and interesting shops are a short drive away, while Oudtshoorn is a few kilometres further. Hosts Grant and Marie love making their visitors happy, and will do everything possible to help guests get the most out of their stay.

Rates & Summary


2 Standard Queen Rooms

Situated in the main house
Each sleeps 2 in Queen-size bed
En-suite shower
Patio with garden views

Standard Twin Room

Situated in the main house
Sleeps 2 in twin beds
En-suite bath and overhead shower
Patio with garden views

Double Standard Room

Situated in converted creamery
Sleeps 2 in King-size/twin beds
En-suite shower
Sitting area with fireplace
Patio with garden views

Small Garden Room

Situated in converted weaving shed
Sleeps 2 in King-size/twin beds
En-suite shower
Sitting area with fireplace
Verandah with mountain views

Large Garden Room

Situated in converted weaving shed
Sleeps 2 in King-size/twin beds
Additional single bed in study
En-suite Victorian bath and shower
Sitting area with fireplace
Verandah with mountain views

2 Garden Family Suites

Situated in converted milking shed
Each sleeps 4 in King-size/twin beds and 2 single beds
Bathroom with Victorian bath, shower and double basins
Lounge with fireplace
Verandah with mountain views

Pricing

  • For pricing detail, click on CHECK AVAILABILITY & BOOK ONLINE above

Catering

Full breakfast and three-course dinner included

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome.

Why Stay Here?

Situated on a 560ha property in the Groenfontein Valley Conservancy outside Calitzdorp, The Retreat at Groenfontein is a Victorian-style house which treats guests to complete tranquillity, luxury accommodation and owner-managed service. Tucked away in a spectacularly beautiful conservancy, the guest house focuses on providing a complete break from the distractions of modern life. Guests will be swept up by authentic Klein Karoo styling, hospitality and cuisine, and can enjoy hiking through the mountains or swimming in the river.

Summary

  • Incredibly beautiful, secluded setting tucked behind Karoo hills
  • Charming Victorian stylings and elegant, luxurious rooms
  • Numerous outdoorsy attractions in the region

Things to consider Bringing

Sunblock, hat, walking shoes, swimming costume, swimming towels, binoculars for bird watching.

Road Conditions

The 20km gravel approach road is suitable for all vehicles.

Activities & Attractions

  • Swimming pool
  • Swimming in the river
  • Walking and mountain bike trails
  • Nearby: wine and brandy tasting, 4x4 routes, donkey trail, ostrich farms, camel rides, hiking, nature reserves, meerkat safari, wildlife ranch, Cango Caves, township tours, cultural experiences, Calitzdorp Spa.

Details

Accommodation & Hospitality

  • Communal lounge
  • Verandah / patio
  • Ceiling fans
  • Fireplace
  • Bed linen supplied
  • Bathroom towels supplied
  • Hair dryer available
  • Daily housekeeping
  • Laundry service available
  • Ironing service available
  • Self-service tea and coffee available
  • No smoking indoors

Catering & Kitchen

  • Breakfast
  • No Restaurant
  • Licensed

Utilities

  • Water supply good for drinking
  • Solar and electric geysers
  • Electricity from solar

Leisure Amenities

  • Swimming pool
  • No television
  • Garden

Business & Connectivity

  • No Wi-Fi
  • No cell phone reception
  • No conference facilities available

Access & Convenience

  • Not wheelchair friendly
  • No babysitting
  • Very child friendly
  • No pets allowed
  • Off street parking
  • Nearest shops further than 10km
  • Nearest fuel further than 10km
  • No shuttle service available

Payment

  • EFT accepted
  • Cash accepted

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Klein Karoo

Western Cape

About

The name ‘Karoo’ is synonymous with vast semi-arid landscapes, small rural towns, large farms, and few people, and here it is no different, except for that small word ’Klein’ (meaning little). There’s really nothing small about it, and only its modest title differentiates it from its big brother to the north, the Great Karoo.

The reason the Klein Karoo is dry is because it lies in the rain shadow between two long ridges of the Cape Fold mountains - these are made up of the Swartberg and Little Swartberg ranges in the north and the Outeniqua and Langeberg in the south. 

The 125 000ha Swartberg Nature Reserve, which includes the lost valley of Gamkaskloof, embraces most of the Swartberg range from De Rust in the east, past Oudtshoorn and Calitzdorp, and on towards Ladismith. It achieved World Heritage Site status in 2004. A section of the popular tourist ‘Route 62’ passes through the Klein Karoo from east to west, and is sometimes referred to as the ‘mountain route’ because the visitor is never out of sight of the impressive ridges. 

Getting to and from the region, the traveller has a choice of interesting options through or over the mountains. 

In the north, the amazing natural gateways of Meiringspoort and Seweweekspoort wind beneath the plunging cliffs, while the high altitude route is via the Swartberg Pass. In the south the Outeniqua and Robertson passes are no less sublime.

Big, bold scenery aside, the Klein Karoo has lots of smaller natural wonders that make it interesting, one of these being its wealth of plant species - the region is part of the succulent Karoo biome. 

Plant lovers will be happy to know the region takes a healthy third place in the succulent diversity rankings in South Africa. Many of these unusual plants are tiny and finding them requires the donning of hiking boots and a sun hat and stepping out into the veld. Other outdoor pursuits are plentiful with hiking trails, mountain bike routes and bird watching being popular.

The Klein Karoo also has a wealth of tourist attractions, many of which are centred around the region’s biggest town, Oudtshoorn. The fascinating Cango Caves, for example, attract around 250 000 visitors a year.

However, every town along the route has something unique on offer.  

As part of the longest wine route in the world, each town has either wine estates or a wine co-operative. Running parallel with this viticulture, but not as well known, is the R62 Brandy Route. This should bring a gleam to the eyes of many a South African, as Brandy is amongst the nation’s favoured spirits. Producers include Mons Ruber near De Rust, Kango Wine Cellar and Grundheim in Oudtshoorn, and Boplaas in Calitzdorp. 

As a destination the Klein Karoo is generous in its offerings which, like all good things in life, should be enjoyed slowly.

Look out for

The Cango caves are situated at the end of the R328, about 40km north of Oudtshoorn. Of the 5.3km of caves, 1.2km is open to the public and the Standard Tour is an easy walk through the first six largest and most spectacular halls to the ‘African Drum Room’. The Adventure Tour lasts 90 minutes and takes one deeper into the caves, but is strictly for lean, fit people who are definitely not claustrophobic because adventurers have to squeeze through narrow fissures. There’s an interpretive centre offering a short film, a museum, gift shop, bureau de change, bar and coffee shop, and a photographic Fantasy Theatre; plus a restaurant specialising in ostrich dishes. Open 363 days a year, but closed on Christmas Day. 

Wine, Port, and Brandy tasting - each town has at least one cellar where visitors can sample some of their produce, from Mons Ruber in De Rust, through to Kango Wine Cellar and Gundheim in Oudtshoorn, Boplaas, De Krans, and Calitzdorp cellars in Calitzdorp and Ladismith Wine Cellar in Ladismith.

Swartberg pass - This sinuous road, which climbs and dips between Prince Albert in the north to Matjiesrivier valley near the Cango Caves is widely regarded as one of the most spectacular mountain roads in the world.

Gamkaskloof, or Die Hel, as it is more commonly known – this lost valley, which was only connected to the outside world in the 1960’s, was once home to a remote group of people for over a century. At the time, they were described as ‘the most isolated community within a community of their own kind in the world’. The valley is now a nature reserve and offers overnight accommodation in some of the restored houses from that amazing era, as well as camping. Getting there is half the experience.  It takes more than two hours along the narrow gravel road from the top of the Swartberg Pass to cover the 50km to the end of the valley.

Meiringspoort - is the eastern gateway into the region and once in the poort the serpentine road winds around sheer cliffs of orange rock and across the mostly serene waters of the Grootrivier (Great River), which it crosses 25 times. It falls within the Swartberg Nature Reserve and there are numerous well-maintained picnic sites along the way, some with braai facilities, and it’s easy to spend half a day exploring from one end to the next. Make a point of stopping at Waterfall Drift picnic site and taking the short stairway to view the waterfall with its 60m drop culminating in a deep pool.

Seweweekspoort - This spectacular gateway through the Swartberg Mountains is situated 24km west of Calitzdorp and winds below the imposing 2 325m Seweweekspoort peak - the highest in the Swartberg. In many ways it’s similar to Meiringspoort, except here the road is gravel and the atmosphere is more primitive. Visitors can also picnic in the poort itself, and one spot that’s perfect to break out the sandwiches is at the thatched umbrella below the cliffs.

When to go

To Do

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