by Petra Vandecasteele – family travel planner, reviewer & hospitality consultant
During this trip, the meaning of ‘Kids of Nature’ took on a slightly different turn… when farmers here talk about kids, they’re usually not referring to children, but young goats. And, although farmers do enjoy pulling your leg, kidding here usually means goats giving birth…
Somerset East and the surrounding country may be situated in ‘the middle of nowhere’, but it certainly offers an experience second to none. We met amazing people, milked a cow, had farm-fresh milk and eggs for breakfast, enjoyed wild fly-fishing, went horse riding, mountainbiking and hiking. Being in the heart of mohair country, we also herded angora goats and learnt about shearing. We even saw lions and white tailed gnu to name a few, and were in awe of the magnificent scenery. To top it all, there is a great variety of really cool places to stay, from the delightful self-catering cottage to the five star game lodge.
The kids – and I mean ‘my’ kids – kept on saying how nice and welcoming everyone was. We discovered a gem where life is real: real people, real farm life, real hospitality. A place where a spade is called a spade, and a smile a promise to a jolly good time.
Plan a holiday in this part of the world. Don’t make it just a stop-over between Johannesburg and Cape Town, take out 5 days, at least. Ask me more about the different places and exciting activities we enjoyed. Let me help you to create your next family adventure in South Africa’s awesome nature.
Have fun on the 35 km of single track routes through the Boschberg Nature Reserve and its indigenous forest. Designed by Meurant Botha of Ama-rider, they are suitable for both beginners and more experienced riders.
Enjoy the 45 km of Classic Karoo Mountain Biking at Wilton Guest Farm, with 4 trails ranging from easy to more challenging. Rated 8/10 fun factor by Andrew Hugo of Eastern Cape Mountain Biking.
Many of the farmers in the area are mountainbiking enthusiasts. Stay on a farm and enjoy their riding the tracks; ask the farmers about their favourite tracks outside the farm.
The walk to Glen Avon Falls is a truly delightful walk during which you can enjoy refreshing dips in the rockpools which are replenished by the constant flow from the waterfall. Bring a picnic basket to spend the day in the shade of the kloof. Entrance to the Falls must be organised by contacting Reg and Vivian Playdon at Avon Heights – 042 243 3555, 082 756 1495 – as access to the foot of the Falls is through their farm.
The Boschberg Hiking Trail is a 15 kilometers circular route. Chances are that you will see bushbuck, bushpig, steenbok, baboon, vervet monkey and rock dassies. 325 bird species have been recorded on the Boschberg.
As with the mountainbiking, there are many pleasant walks on the farm tracks. Ask your hosts for the best places.
The Somerset East area is a fly-fishing paradise featuring picturesque still waters, as well as sections of river, that are stocked with trout. Or, flyfish for indigenous yellow fish, bass, mudfish, moggel and tilapia. The Angler & Antelope has exclusive access to flyfish on over 25km of the Little Fish River, and offers excursions as far as Cradock.
Join Gertina on her outrides through the Boschberg Nature Reserve. You can even tackle a few MTB tracks on horse back if you’d like! Her horses are lovely and the rides great fun.
Come on, give it a try and learn how to milk a cow. Few things beat the awesomeness of a homebrewed coffee with fresh milk fetched from the source by yourself. Children love it!
Have fun herding Merino sheep and Angora goats, and learn all about shearing and mohair. And participate (seasonal)! After all, the Somerset East area is Mohair Country.
You cannot visit Somerset East without also visiting:
The Walter Battiss Art Museum
This absolutely delightful museum is a definite winner with children who continue to be inspired by Walter Battiss’ ‘Island of the imagination’ which he named ‘Fook Island’. Take your time here and marvell at this much-loved artist’s outstanding, beautiful work.
The watermill at Glen Avon
This little gem dates back to 1822. The machinery and equipment shipped were from England and then transported by oxwagon from Port Elizabeth to be finally assembled at Glen Avon. Enter the Mill, enter a bygone era. Bats included…
Somerset East & surrounds is one of our favourite family destinations. We have discouvered delightful little gems and enjoyed genuine farm hospitality, all of which are included in some of our ‘Tripping through the Karoo’ routes. Topped, of course, with some extra special Kids of Nature extras 🙂