8 Cosy Cabins and Cottages for a Winter Break
Winter getaways: a crackling fireplace, good red wine, and a cosy cabin. Doesn’t that sound perfect? Yes. That’s because it is. These eight cottages and cabins all over South Africa have been tried and tested by Getaway journos, and should have you on your way to the perfect winter holiday.
1. Buffalo Valley Bush Lodges, Sedgefield
Goukamma Nature Reserve near Sedgefield may measure only 2500 hectares, but it has some of the most stunning coastal scenery in the country. All three self-catering bush lodges are similar in design, made from pine, and feel light and airy inside despite not being very large. Lots of windows let in the light, and each has a deck overlooking a scenic section of the reserve. They all have an open-plan kitchen and living room, hot showers and two bedrooms.
Forest Lodge sleeps four and is encased in a grove of milkwoods that grow up through the deck and drape over the roof; staying here, you’re truly hemmed in by nature. The five-sleeper Vlei Lodge sits on the edge of a picturesque pond, so it’s the best choice for birders. River Lodge (which sleeps six) is perched high on a dune overlooking the river. It may have a smaller deck than the other two, but definitely has the best views.
Rates: Self-catering from R975 for a four-sleeper cabin off-peak; from R1 250 in peak season.
Contact: Tel 021 483 0190, www.capenature.co.za
2. Dream Lodge, Magaliesberg, Gauteng
Photo by Melanie van Zyl.
Leave the office at three on Friday, unwind on the easy hour’s drive from Joburg, and arrive at Gecko Cottage in time for sundowners on the outdoor sofa-bed, surrounded by twilight bird calls in the acacia veld. The lodge comprises three cottages, all politely spaced and hidden from one another. The amber-hued bathroom in Gecko Cottage features a spacious Victorian bath fed by a solar-powered geyser, and walls cleverly decorated with the bottoms of green and blue bottles. The stone walls in the bedroom have recesses filled with dozens of tea-light candles, and you can eat a delicious catered dinner with red wine next to the fireplace. Agama Cottage is also only suited to couples; Chameleon Cottage is self-catering, and sleeps four.
Rates: DB&B from R780 a person a night sharing for Agama and Gecko Cottage; self-catering at Chameleon Cottage from R450 per person a night.
Contact: Tel 082 620 6369, www.dreamlodge.co.za
3. Mtentu Lodge, Transkei
Mtentu Lodge. Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.
A 40-kilometre dirt road takes you to the river mouth from the R61, south of Port Edward – its location is one of the reasons we featured Mtentu Lodge in our 12 remote camps and cottages around South Africa. Sedans will make it to within two kilometres, but to get to the front door you’ll need a high-clearance vehicle or a pre-arranged pick-up. The lodge’s six thatched wooden cabins, each with a bunk bed and two singles, are perfect for families with kids. Driftwood towel hooks typify its simple aesthetic and commitment to using the natural resources available (responsibly, of course). Raised wooden boardwalks cross shallow rocky ravines between the furthest units and a central bar, kitchen, lounge and broad, sandy braai boma.
Shared flushing loos and gas showers provide some of the comforts of home, while a solar-powered shower enjoys a view right down to the rolling swell of the sea. There is also a small fleet of river-worthy vessels at your disposal.
Rates: From R700 a cabin a night (sleeps four), plus R100 a night to use the self-catering kitchen. Three catered meals a day costs from R250 a person. Payments via cash or EFT only.
Contact: Tel 083 805 3356, www.mtentulodge.co.za
4. Bordeaux River Cottages, Bonnievale
The Breede River travels about 300 kilometres on its journey from the Hex River Mountains to the Indian Ocean, through Worcester, Robertson, Swellendam and past Bordeaux River Cottages in Bonnievale. While the river may not lap right up against the log cabins, it is close enough for you to hear it in the still of the night. Each of the three cabins is similar, with a simple set-up that sleeps six people. There are plenty of wine and cheese farms in the area, so stock up on both and have a cheese and wine evening around the fire.
Rates: R275 a person a night for two people; R65 a person thereafter.
Contact: Tel 084 299 8490, www.bordeauxrivercottages.co.za
5. Harkerville Treetop Chalet, Knysna
Cabin nestled in the foliage. Photo by Dale Morris.
Built on a platform overlooking the forest, this is a fully equipped, self-catering log cabin that sleeps four. A spacious deck and braai complements a romantic outdoor Jacuzzi and the private location deep in the SANParks reserve makes for a wonderful escape into nature. Stay here if you want the freedom to wander the paths whenever it suits you.
Rates: From R650 a person a night for two people; R300 a person and R190 a child thereafter.
Contact: Reservations are through the SANParks Regional Office, Knysna. Tel 044 302 5606, www.sanparks.co.za
6. Makakatana Bay Lodge, St Lucia
There’s only one privately owned lodge on the banks of Lake St Lucia, and there isn’t ever likely to be another – one of the reasons this is one of our six luxury lodges that are the experience of a lifetime. There are just six luxury wooden cabins, each with large sliding doors opening onto verandas concealed by indigenous dune forest. Three suites (including the honeymoon unit) have views through bush thickets onto the lake, while the others look into the forest – room one has been known as the leopard room ever since a guest woke up to find a leopard gazing in, just metres from her porch.
Rates: From R5400 a person for a three-night stay, including all meals and a wetland game drive per day.
Contact: Tel 035 550 4189, www.makakatana.co.za
7. Bakkrans Nature Reserve, Cederberg
Bakkrans at sunset. Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.
Looking for something rustic and remote, but also comfortable and well-equipped? You’ll struggle to do better than the stone cottages at Bakkrans Nature Reserve in the northeasterly ranges of the Cederberg (it also made the cut for our 12 remote camps and cottages around South Africa). Low, untrimmed thatch roofs with untreated poplar frames, doorways that you may have to stoop a little to get through, bare concrete floors, and specially sought-out, unrestored furniture give an authentic feel of what the dwelling of an early inhabitant would have been like. The only exception are the turquoise swimming towels, bright white linen and comfortable cots.
Four cottages sleep eight in total, with two others designated as kitchen (with a fridge, hot water basin and store brimming with pots, pans and cutlery) and cooking/dining area (with two huge stone fireplaces, gas hobs and a long dining table). No matter how many people you are, your group will have exclusive use of the reserve, so you won’t have to share facilities. There’s no cellphone reception or electricity, but you won’t mind about that when you see the views.
Rates: Self-catering from R655 a person a night (minimum two-night stay).
Contact: Tel 083 261 1934, www.redcederberg.co.za
8. Kameeldoorn Tree House, Mokala National Park
Photo by Scott Ramsay.
There is only one treehouse in all of South Africa’s diverse national parks. In the middle of Mokala, off the beaten track and far from the two main camps, lies a small wooden cabin with a double bed and tiny bathroom, perched halfway up a copse of camelthorn trees. Don’t get a fright if a giraffe pokes its nose into the window while you’re snoozing. It’s basic and modestly equipped, but at sunset a waterhole in front of the treehouse lures thirsty gemsbok, buffalo, kudu and the occasional rhino. At night, it’s just you, your partner, the stars, the flicker of flames and the howl of hyenas.
Rates: Self-catering from R550 per person sharing a night
Contact: Tel 053 204 0158, www.sanparks.org
Source: Getaway Blog