In December 2020, we had a wonderful family holiday planned in Morgan Bay. It would have been our first time there and we could not wait. Then the beaches closed. The second wave of Covid-19 was upon us and the virus thwarted plans, yet again. The disappointment was significant. It took me a couple of days to process it, after which I started looking for alternatives. We desperately needed a change of scenery and some time away. I stumbled upon Louvain guest farm in Herold, situated roughly between Oudtshoorn and George on a stretch of vast open space and endless skies. They did not have space for us at the main guest farm but we were offered accommodation in their Berghuis, a house nestled against the mountains on the owners’ own farm, Ezeljaght, just next door. This sounded perfect.
We arrived at dusk and as we drove onto the farm road, we saw a house with welcoming lights, situated completely on its own, high up on the horison. We said to ourselves – imagine this could be where we are staying. We continued on, as per the trusty GPS and low and behold – this little mountain haven was exactly where we were heading.
When I say you literally could not ask for a better location to spend a holiday during a serious world health pandemic, I mean it. Travel restrictions permitting, I would say Die Berghuis is an absolute haven of isolation whilst also allowing for an immersion in nature that will transport and recharge you. We were three adults, four children and a large Rhodesian Ridgeback. In the time we were there the children forgot about screen time and played absolutely endlessly on the grass and open spaces around the house. There is something about a blank canvas that allows children’s imaginations to come alive. Their games, mostly involving sticks and other natural treasures, were intricate and endlessly filled with adventure.
A large firepit sits on the front lawn and is perfect for massive bonfires and watching the stars at night. The owners of the farm organized a morning activity of feeding the lambs, which was a real treat for the children. We cycled on the dirt roads between Die Berghuis and Louvain and it was hard to tell who enjoyed it more – the kids or the Ridgeback, who could run to her heart’s content.
Die Berghuis is rustic but comfortably furnished. The kitchen has an indoor braai/fireplace and is equipped with everything you need to make your stay comfortable. There are three bedrooms, sleeping six, but the adjacent building at the back of the house can be used as a fourth bedroom with its own bathroom. Quite possibly the best feature of the house is the expansive stoep where you can enjoy endless views over the valley and farm-land below. Just a two minute walk behind the house, is a clean but rustic cement farm dam where you can cool down during summer months.
Louvain Guest farm is accessible from Die Berghuis by car or by bike on the internal farm roads. Louvain has a stunning function venue, most commonly used for weddings, which can host more than a 100 guests. The piece de resistance is the small, intimate and absolutely beautiful little stone church, conveniently situated next to the wedding venue. It is a unique selling point to have a church, function venue and guest accommodation, all on the same premises. Louvain offers a range of guest accommodation ranging from free-standing houses like The Homestead, sleeping 10 guests for exclusive rental, to the Stables, which is a building consisting of seven units, sleeping 21 people. A communal pool and games room is centrally located for all guests to enjoy. There is also a campsite amongst the trees with flush toilets and showers, but with no electricity points. Activities on the farm include 4×4 trails, mountain biking, hiking, bird watching, microlight flights or just relaxing by the pool.
It is essential to bring your own food as all the accommodation is self-catering. We discovered a wonderful little tea-room in Harold called Over the Mountain, which serves food and drinks amongst the beautiful roses and verdant green of their front-facing grass terrace.
Other child-friendly activities within an hour’s radius include the world famous Cango caves, the wide range of animal interaction activities Oudshoorn has to offer as well as Wilge Wandel holiday farm and day restaurant.
Watching our (city bound) Ridgeback roam endlessly amongst the long grasses and our children playing around the trees, so lost in their imagination they stayed in their pajamas until lunchtime, reminded me of the Mary Oliver poem, A Summer Day:
Who made the swan and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean –
The one who has flung herself out of the grass,
The one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
Who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down –
Who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
Into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
How to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
Which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?
If you need to remind yourself how to be idle, or how to reconnect in the present, this is the place for you. No doubt, you will leave feeling blessed.
For details about prices, accommodation options as well as the wedding venue, make contact at
+27 44 518 0015 or [email protected]