By Julienne du Toit
Photos by Chris Marais
Something happens to you when you stay on a Karoo farm for a few days. City life just drifts away as if it never existed.
You forget to charge your cellphone. Your electronic tablet goes neglected. The family car doesn’t move for days at a time. You go walking in the veld and discover little treasures – fragrant plants, tortoise shells, fossils, odd stones.
And the kids? Well, they’re completely safe and playing somewhere out there, with the geese or the farmer’s children. Or the shepherd, who’s showing them something weird and wonderful in the veld. Or making mud pies next to the water furrow.
The day opens before you. This is
where you get time to read your book, park on the stoep and gaze at the horizon, nap after lunch, sit chatting around the fire. Welcome to Karoo farm life.
Lowlands Country House and Manor
Lowlands Estate is a beautiful sheep, cattle and pecan nut farm on the Fish River, about half and hour’s drive north of Cradock, accessible from the N10. There’s plenty to do and enjoy here, from canoeing on the dam, to river rafting, bird watching or just relaxing. Like most Karoo farmstays, it is ideal for children.
Part-owner Anne Bowker is famous chef in these parts. Do not turn down her pecan nut pie.
There’s a choice of accommodation. Lowlands Country House has four en suite bedrooms, all with DStv. All meals can be provided, and guests have access to the swimming pool and tennis co
urt. There is a comfortable lounge with a fireplace.
There is also Lowlands Manor, perfect for self-cater groups. There are four bedrooms, one of which is en suite. The others share a bathroom. In addition to the kitchen, there is also a braai area. Bring your DStv card.
Your hosts, Dave and Anne Bowker are part of a real Karoo farming community which still meets for tennis every Saturday afternoon and attends church on Sunday in a 100-year-old church.
Clifton Game Reserve and Farm
Situated 60km from Cradock, not far from the Mountain Zebra National Park, is Clifton Farm and the Cat Conservation Trust (Pred-a-tours).
Here Richard and Marion Holmes offer self-catering or catered accommodation in classic Karoo mountain veld, full of wild animals. Those who prefer supplied meals usually
stay in the rondavel complex, which has three comfortable en suite rooms. You can choose to stay on a B+B basis or with all meals supplied. You’ll also have access to the swimming pool and a braai area.
In addition, there are also two bush cottages that are perfect for self-catering. Each is equipped with a gas ‘skottel’, outside braai as well as toaster, kettle, microwave and small fridge.
The pear trees here are over a century old.
The attraction of Clifton is the immersion into wild Karoo and access to the intriguing small wild cats you’d normally never see in the wild because they are nocturnal and secretive (Pred-a-Tours). Marion is involved in breeding these rare cats for release into the wild. Many are now free in private game reserves around the country. These include African wildcats, servals, small-spotted cats (also called black-footed cats) and caracals.
Blomfontein is a unique function venue surrounded by the Blomfontein Mountains in the heart of the Karoo. It is situated 45 km south of Cradock on the Mortimer road.
The Karoo surroundings, fresh air, mountains, fountains, big gardens and more, this is the wedding venue that you have been dreaming about.
We offer an onsite chapel that can seat 260 people, a wedding venue that can accommodate 300 people and can provide 110 guests with bedand breakfast.
This venue is ideal for conferences and functions of any size. Come and experience the outdoor experience and have a function that will blow your guests away.
Co-ordinates: 32°27’48.2″S 25°39’22.8″E