R300pp nightly, children under 15, R120; discounts available for larger groups and longer stays.
Budget Getaways Review
Now, here's a farm spilling rich history and Karoo character. Matjiesvlei goes right back to 1821 and has been in the same bloodline ever since - today it's farmed by 5th generation Bennie Nel and his wife, Selma, and judging by their towering sons, the baton will be safely passed onto the 6th generation.
You'll find the dirt turnoff to Matjiesvlei at the bottom of the dramatic Huisrivier Pass, between Calitzdorp and Ladismith - a secluded valley in the shadow of the Swartberg and bisected by the life-sustaining Gamka River. It's an amazing spot of rolling hills, fiery-red aloes and small-scale farming. To appreciate the setting there are six rustic cottages suited to different group sizes (from 2 to 7), and a campsite along the river.
To give you some idea of the varied options...Thiart-Huis (circa 1936) is comfortably furnished, has three bedrooms, and can sleep seven guests.
Like Thiart, nearby Douglas Huis can accommodate seven happy campers on two double beds and five singles.
Further along, Oupad se Kloof sleeps three and as with Thiart and Douglas, sports the luxury of electricity.
Cloete Huis (sleeps 2) is among the oldest buildings in the valley and a romantic hideaway, with candles, oil lamps and a gas geyser for the bubble bath; for mom-in-law there's a separate outbuilding with double bed and a bathroom.
Die Wa-Huis (sleeps 2), a restored wagon shed and another appealing option for the romantics, with breathtaking views from the front stoep.
Huis oppie Rant features three bedrooms, beautiful timber floors and a magnificent view. Again, candles, lamps and a donkey provide the light and hot water.
If this is all a little too comfortable for your liking you can pitch your tent at the shady Dam River Camp, draped across the banks of the Gamka River and equipped with clean ablutions and hot water.
While most will be happy to park off on the stoep with a good book and beer close at hand, there's plenty to do at Matjiesvlei. The river is ideal for fishing (yellow fish, carp, black bass), swimming and light boating, while the surrounding hills are good walking and mountain bike fodder.
For the Porsche Cayenne owner, the rugged Bojaankop 4x4 trail awaits - who cares about a few little dings, dents and scratches when you can enjoy a wonderful view from the top!
Finally, Calitzdorp (13km) and Oudtshoorn (63km) are down the drag, each with their own appeal.
"We love the Calitzdorp/Ladismith area and it's rugged splendor, but Matjiesvlei Farm way exceeded all our expectations! Tucked away in the foothills of the majestic Swartberg Mountains, the various accommodation is surrounded by nature at its best. The farm is steeped in history, which just adds to the magic. Being a retired couple we chose to stay in Die Stal which is just for 2. We were on a ridge with the most stunning views of the mountains around us and sweeping green Lucerne fields below. Selma has done a great job of renovating the old buildings on the farm and our cottage was just perfect. Clean, comfortable, historical and well equipped. We spent the most relaxing & delightfully peaceful 3 days there and were just sorry that we hadn't booked for longer. We shall certainly be returning."
(Diane Peddle, visited Sep 2016)
"A simple old cottage (1796) with creaky wooden floors, no electricity but plenty of paraffin lamps, and other forms of lighting. Gas fridge, two burner stove top and hot water. Only a bath, no shower. Great front stoep looking across the valley to the Swartberg Mountains and a well equipped kitchen. Simple, but spotlessly clean and absolute peace and quiet. Great to feed the soul! There are walks but too hot to do any this time of year."
(sandra mair, visited January 2015)
"Loved our two nights in the Thiart-huis. Suited our family well, and the peace and views from our stoep were wonderful. Our hosts were friendly and welcoming and everything was clean and in order."
(Fiona McLennan, visited July 2015)
"Matjiesvlei lives up to its name. It really is a friendly place. Selma and Bennie were the most friendly and accommodating hosts. We started to sound like a crowd at a firework display, going ooh! aah! at every turn on the spectacular drive in. The scenery is truly gorgeous and the Aloe Ferox were in full bloom. The cottage was not just attractive, it had that special authentic Karoo feel, little touches and that extra effort to let you into the history of the place, like wedding pictures of the original inhabitants, ancestors if the current farmer. You can get 'decor' with three-pot-plants-in-a-row anywhere, this is something different. The roads were in great condition for family biking adventures and the neighboring farms have collaborated on some super hikes, well marked and incredibly beautiful. The banana boat (which lives up to its name) was a highlight for us all on the beautiful, surprisingly broad and deep Gamka river. Our kids turned out to be passionate wannabe dairy farmers and Selma and the cows were very kind to them on their daily pilgrimage to 'help' with the milking! Their camp site looks awesome, save it for the warmer months and linger longer. There's more than enough to do for a week or more."
(Marguerite MacRobert, visited July 2015)
"One of the most memorable weekend getaways. Would recommend it to anyone who enjoys spectacular scenery, the outdoors and nature at its best, including a break from techno gadgets. We hope to be fortunate enough to return, especially when the aloes are in bloom."
(Carol Swanson, visited April 2015)
"Simply glorious setting with lots of lovely ambles and walks and great access to the river. Beautifully appointed cottage with all we needed, perhaps more/bigger ice trays would be good, but we relaxed and enjoyed every moment of our stay. Owner is also very helpful and kind."
(Pamela Struthers, visited March 2015)
"Sal beslis weer kom, maar om langer te bly."
(Stephanie de Villiers, visited September 2014)
"We spent a wonderful 3 days at Matjiesvlei and can really recommend it to anyone who is looking for a splendid setting, hospitality and character. We stayed in the Huis Oppie Rand and it provided us with everything we needed with a sense of times gone by. For our family it was very restful to get away from emails, phone calls and believe it or not electricity! Selma and her family really made our stay an experience which will make us head back to Matjiesvlei soon again. Our days spent swimming in the river and stargazing at night made great memories that the kids, parents and grandparents will remember for a long time."
(Annika Rudman, visited March 2014)
"We got engaged there more than a year ago. We arrived just before full moon rising and it was lovely. Spent the best three days of my life there (our life) well worth a visit. 4x4 recommended, but if not, it's still one of the cutest houses I have ever stayed in. Love the down-to-earthness of the place and the owners."
(Esna van Zyl, visited December 2013)
"Dit was my oupa se huisie, my pa Isak Hendrik Cloete het my na die huisie geneem toe ek 'n jong meisie was ek was so 17 jaar oud. Ek onthou dit vandag nog en ek is vandag 54 jaar oud. Ek wil graag weer eendag soontoe kom. Dit is 'n wonderlike plek."
(Inga Cloete Russell, visited October 2013)
"Every now and again we stumble upon a gem that we are not sure if we want to keep it as a secret all to ourselves or share the secret with everyone. Matjiesvlei Guest Farm is just such a gem. We came back from a two week holiday at the sea exhausted and decided to stay over at Matjiesvlei for two nights on our way back home. After just two days we left refreshed and ready to face the year. We stayed in Cloete's house- a beautiful beautiful historical little house overlooking the Gamka valley and mountains who change faces with every hour of sun movement. The little house was spotless and well equipped. We mountain biked, hiked, swam in the river, tasted port, explored Calitzdorp and surrounds and sat for hours on the stoep. No cellphone reception made it especially peaceful and relaxing. Its been a very long time since we've seen so many stars so clearly. Thank you for your hospitality and generosity in sharing this with us."
(Leana De Jager, visited January 2013)
"I am not sure I want to review Matjiesvlei Guest Farm as it's one of those rare gems that you want to keep all to yourself! Sssssshhhh, my secret! Its spectacular! The setting is out of this world and the cottages are all unique and quirky and spotless and comfortable and gorgeous .... and exactly as you would want them to be, comfortably rustic with mostly no electricity in magic surrounds with splendid views! I LOVE the authentic/vintage feel to the interiors! It's the perfect getaway and Selma is the perfect host! Don't forget to visit the old post office! We cant wait to come back!"
(Lee-Ann Schmidt, visited September 2012)
"Thank you for a wonderful time. Impressive mountains, a lovely cottage, wonderful hikes, nature at its best. We had a great time. Loved it."
(Yolandi Fourie, visited June 2012)
Where You'll Also Find Us
Arniston (Waenhuiskrans) • Barrydale • Baviaanskloof • Betty's Bay • Bonnievale • Bredasdorp • Caledon • Calitzdorp • Cape Agulhas & Struisbaai • Cape Peninsula & Surrounds • Ceres • Citrusdal • Clanwilliam & Cederberg • Darling • De Rust • Elands Bay • Gansbaai • George • Grabouw & Elgin Valley • Greyton • Hermanus • Hogsback • Knysna • Ladismith • Malgas • Matjiesfontein • McGregor • Montagu • Mossel Bay • Napier • Oudtshoorn • Paarl • Plettenberg Bay • Porterville • Pringle Bay, Betty's Bay and Kleinmond • Riebeek West & Riebeek-Kasteel • Robertson • St Helena Bay • Stanford • Stellenbosch • Stilbaai • Sutherland • Swellendam • Tulbagh • Velddrif • Vermaaklikheid • Wellington • Wilderness • Worcester & Hex Valley • Yzerfontein