From R230pp - R400pp, depending on unit and number of guests
Budget Getaways Review
Described in the brochure as “your-down-to-earth-mountain-retreat”, Simonskloof is special – thanks to a remote setting and lovingly-restored accommodation. Access to Simonskloof is courtesy of a rough farm road jutting off the gorgeous Koo Valley. The road cuts deep into the mountains for 10km and halts in a secluded valley cupped by rugged mountains – overflowing with hiking, kloofing, swimming and bird watching potential.
Swiss-born Jurgen, once the valley’s sole inhabitant, with a Zen outlook and a passion for self-sufficient and eco-friendly living, they has created an understated yet truly unique retreat from the city. But rest assured, Simonskloof is not about 4am meditation, self-flagellation and tofu dinners. This said, neither is it a venue for party animals. It falls somewhere between the two – a decadent retreat with an emphasis on tranquil or active enjoyment of the pristine surrounds.
A weekend at Simonskloof takes two forms. You can go the independent route and self-cater. Alternatively, kick back and be treated with local trout, fillet cooked on an open fire and other delicacies unbecoming of a monk on retreat. Gorged and happy, your bed for the weekend is in either a simple farmhouse (Eric's Place) best defined as ‘rustic-luxury’, two rustic cottages or a campsite - all free from WiFi and cell reception.
As could be expected from a Swiss architect, the electricity-free Eric's Place reflects an eye for minimalist detail and creative funkiness: timber floors and colourful walls; a bathroom clad in corrugated iron; paraffin lanterns and the odd agricultural implement; a spacious lounge with a fireplace, tables shaped from industrial cable reels, comfy couches and a wonderful outlook; unfussy bedrooms with mosquito nets and candles on fruit crates doubling as bedside tables.
Further across the valley, the rustic cottages are renovated labourer abodes (also without electricity) featuring Dover stoves, reed ceilings and an outdoor cast-iron bath which Jurgen found in a Montagu junkshop. Alternatively, if this all sounds way too decadent for you, there’s the option of camping under oak trees next to a mountain stream. Brilliant spot.
"Our second winter break here and we were just as blown away as last time. We love the eco-friendly, simple cottages which feel like they are suspended in the mountains. The scenery is breathtaking, the hikes are fabulous and it feels super safe letting the kids cycle off on daily adventures. Our favourite spot is possibly the Hammock of Heavenly Views. We really appreciate that the vibe is rustic but the hot water system, Dover stove and cooking apparatus all work beautifully and we can snuggle up under nice linen and down duvets after a night under a breathtaking canopy of stars."
(Marguerite MacRobert, visited Aug 2017)
"This getaway ticked all our boxes, the views are amazing, the cottage is basic but comfortable and all our needs were met. If you're looking to recharge your batteries this is the place. The farm also provides options for walking, hiking and other excursions if you are feeling energetic. Already booked for June and can't wait!"
(Sharon Van Rooyen, visited Apr 2017)
"Times are tough in South Africa right now, at least pretty confusing, and often enough quite painful on a number of levels. As an employee at a tertiary education institution, 2016 was not the best year for myself and my colleagues, no matter how much we empathized with the students' causes. At year end, looking forward mainly to the freedom to quietly fall apart over the Christmas break, I needed to put something more positive in place for 2017. I searched Budget Getaways and found Simonskloof Mountain Retreat, and decided to book a pre-valentines weekend away from it all for my wife and I. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I've ever made. We arrived at Faraway Cottage under a semi-eclipsing full moon on Friday evening, and woke up to a gloriously sunlit view of mountaintops stretching into the distance right outside our bedroom windows. This Saturday has now gone down in our relationship's history as the most profoundly peaceful day we have spent together in ten years. We hiked a little, reconnecting and sharing our deeper stories, and just generally enjoying relaxing into the perfect simplicity of the little house, cooking on the firepit outside, napping on the hammock on the stoep, reading on the lovely double bed (with big mozzie net, essential). We took away many great ideas on conscious and off-grid living, admiring the gas fridge, solar lights, mini-geyser, recycling, composting and mountain spring water on tap. It was so beautifully quiet and, well, far away, that this one perfect day was like an entire holiday unto itself. I can't wait to come back again, maybe this time with the children (as there are two more beds), but maybe also not. It may just turn out to be that place that we want to keep just for the two of us to go to, when times are tough, and when all that we need to hear is silence and to feel perfectly safe, literally away from it all."
(Niklas Zimmer, visited Feb 2017)
"We had a fantastic time - our cottage was in an incredible location and provided everything you needed - an absolute gem! It was obvious that the owners had taken a great deal of time and energy on making it a very special place indeed. We will definitely be back!"
(Danielle Flockton, visited Jan 2017)
"If your idea of a good time is complete solitude, this is the place for you! Faraway Cottage is perfect for a getaway free from cellphones (there is no signal) or any artificial noise (no electricity). The cottage is really clean and neat and is equipped with just enough. The minimalism is refreshing. The short walks were really enjoyable without being too challenging. I felt completely rejuvenated and inspired after the weekend."
(Katherine Clarke, visited Oct 2016)
"We love Simonskloof. It's simple, functional, off the grid and a great getaway from it all. Jurgen keeps everything in excellent shape, have never had a complaint and we have staid quite a few times over the years. Wonderful location, great walks, deafening silence. Love it."
(Greg Paton, visited June 2015)
"I absolutely love this place. The surroundings and nature are gorgeous and the hosts are amazing."
(Eva Brouwer, visited March 2015)
"We really enjoyed the sense of faraway space that has been created in this beautiful corner of the Langeberg. We came back inspired."
(Jeremy Main, visited May 2015)
"Great natural and cared for environment. Eco friendly for sure. Awesome abseiling, walks and mountain bike trails. Alone with Leopards and stars."
(Kevin Yates, visited April 2015)
"The location and accommodation was great, especially if you are interested in off-grid living. We were impressed with the recycling and composting setup. The solar heated water never ran out, and the gas fridge worked perfectly. We had everything we needed, and all was labelled and signposted well. We we're disappointed with the swimming facilities. It was very hot, and swimming in the murky dam was not appealing as you had to haul yourself up onto the jetty, the dam is completely surrounded by reeds so no access to a beach. Definitely not set up to chill around, as you would hope in a hot location. We walked to the 'waterfall' and 'rock pools', only to find the water down to a trickle and the pools more like puddles. The views are beautiful, and the location remote, ideal for catching up on quiet time. The stars at night were stunning! Great place to recharge your batteries. I would recommend taking a mossie net, we were very grateful we had ours with us. There are loads of activities, but need to be booked in advance and minimum of four people."
(Julie Taylor, visited January 2015)
"Thanks Julie for your balanced feedback. It looks like even our worst write-up ever (!) still has lots of good points to keep heading for our hidden piece of heaven. As you mentioned correctly, that waterfall is dry and the pools on that trail are respectively low or not there at all we can only blame it on our 3rd worst raining season since 1999 with not even 350mm of rain for the whole of 2014. The missing beach? It's very tempting, but too fancy to go with our down to earth set-up. A ladder up the jetty looks like a possibility and so are the mozzi-nets, which we only fitted at Eric's Place back in 1999 - 2001 and thereafter hardly got used. Seems this summer the buggers start coming back, hence we appreciate the feed-back.
A last comment on the adventure activities, naturally by being as non-commercial as possible we can't employ a permanent stand-by adventure staff, not even temporary one, hence booking is essential and groups of 4-6 guest keeps the whole trip very personal. Sadly we were not able to welcome you personally and direct you to the nicer pools, as it was our much needed weekend off. Hope to see you again in the cooler months when all is flowing well and the mozzies have migrated up north."
"It's a very special little valley that Jurgen shares with us city rabble, we sat round the little table in faraway cottage trying to find excuses not to go home. Now we're counting down the days we return! We love getting back to basics, but a Dover stove and paraffin lamp might not be everyone's cup of tea. We stick managed to keep a two-year old happy in between all the rain, so I think it's the combination of fresh air and splendid views that will bring us back."
(Steven Burnett , visited August 2014)
"Worth the while if you want to get away from the run of the mill. No electricity, brilliant! Paraffin and gas are the order. Wake up to unspoiled nature and all that is left is to embrace. We had Eric's Place, big enough for a family or small group of friends."
(Andreas Labuschagne, visited September 2014)
"We had an absolutely fantastic experience. Booking and payment were a breeze. Directions are signposted from the R318 turn-off, very nice touch. Having arrived in the dark the night before, the exquisite setting of Faraway cottage was a very welcome surprise the next morning. There was a snafu with the bedding we'd booked, but Jurgen sorted us out chop-chop after arrival. The solar geyser also gave some trouble, but the back-up gas geyser stood in admirably. The cottage is very well appointed and these niggles barely registered. Our stay was fantastically relaxing and it's definitely on our will-definitely-visit-again list."
(Francois Visagie, visited August 2014)
"Simonskloof is set in the valley between many mountains. The camp site is sunny and shady if you need shade, green grass, right on a stream and close to the dam. We enjoyed the peace and serenity and would definitely return."
(Pippa Segall, visited April 2014)
"This has been the most awesome getaway I've ever experienced. The most beautiful unspoiled natural beauty I've seen. Breathtaking views and mountain scenery. Topped off with real down-to-earth hosts, and warm cozy tucked away cottages. No electricity. But an old cast iron fire stove. No cell reception. But valleys and mountains to explore. If you're considering. Don't consider. Just Go!"
(Mark van Wyk, visited July 2012)
"It is difficult to choose adjectives to describe our experience at Simonskloof - it was an absolutely wonderful, stunning, amazing weekend of resting, relaxing and recharging. The campsite under the ancient oak tree is great, the fact that there were few people around and the quiet was wonderful. We particularly enjoyed the hike to Twin peaks, the view is absolutely breathtaking! It was good to expose our "stadsjapie" to the long-drop and donkie. He loved the swing and played a war game with the acorns! We will definitely visit again."
(Elma de Vries, visited December 2010)
"A fantastic place to relax and reconnect. The bath with a view is totally awesome! This is a place our family will return to regularly."
(Robin Taylor, visited October 2009)
"Jurgen se alles-in-een wegkomplek bied iets vir ons almal: by Simonskloof het ons al gekamp, gekloof, gebergfiets, ge... Die kothuisies is perfek met net die nodigste. Die kampplek se oulike buitestort en reus van 'n akkerboom is goed weggesteek. Maar daai Nuy-kloofing en onder sterre slaap - dis die beste vir 'n betonboer!"
(Juan Bester, visited October 2007)
"We had a wonderful weekend (definitely too short) in Far A Way cottage. Everything was at hand for a very lazy two days. And... yes, we did have a bath outside (at 2pm on a gloriously sunny Saturday afternoon), only to drive home on Sunday and see the snow on the Hex River Mountains! Will go again in summer and camp next to the river, swim in the rockpools and go on the hiking trails, that is, not be so lazy!
(June Linde, visited July 2007)
"The pictures on the site do not do Simonskloof any justice. From the moment you enter the Farm House's front door you are pleasantly surprised by all the love, attention to detail and little luxuries and this continues right through out the house. The kitchen is better equipped than most kitchens in suburbia. It is a place of relaxation, getting close to nature (OK, as close as lying in a hammock with a glass of wine) and resting. Even though there is no electricity there are enough lamps and candles to light up the place like Grand West and a gas stove, shower and fireplace completes your 'rustic' experience. It is the best place we have been to on this site and will highly recommend it."
(Henk Kruger, visited March 2007)
"A wonderful camping weekend getaway for a few friends and a pooch. Will definitely be back in summer to try out the cottages, and go find those rock pools."
(Anthea De Stefanis, visited April 2007)
"I've been going to Simonskloof since he first opened it in 2001. It's an awesome spot if you just want to chill, but if has enough to offer even for those who need an adrenalin shot. The description has no mention of the dam, which is (esp. in summer) the main attraction of Simonskloof. So, if you get turned off because there's no mention of 'water', well, there's a sizeable dam for swimming, paddling, cooling off - within walking distance from the cottages and the campsite."
(Helmar Rudolph, visited November 2006)
"We spent a fantastic 3 days at Simonskloof! No electricity, no traffic, no noise! It's a fantastic place to escape the daily grind of the city. Orange cottage was spacious, very well kitted out and spotlessly clean. While it was a little cold to enjoy the outdoor bath tub, it made a comfortable spot from where to stare at the stars. We did two lovely walks into the mountains to look at rock paintings and discovered the rock pools. Thanks for a great stay!"
(Sophia Mortakis, visited September 2005)
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