A Wild (Flower) Weekend
This year we finally got ourselves together to go see the wild flowers. After a long struggle I found a great full time job and we grabbed an opening at Enjo Nature Farm the weekend before I started. The farm is in the Biedouw Valley, where the flowers start a little earlier than the rest of the Cape West Coast flower region. After the heavier than normal rains this year, we were well rewarded.
Enjo was the first getaway we took Dash and Pirate on, when they were about 9 months old. This time was the 3rd time we've stayed there and luckily we got the same cottage as the first time, The Cabin. It is a cute tiny thatched cottage next to the campsite. There have been a few improvements made since the first time we stayed there, mainly the drop down bad weather blinds, which were great since the weather was cold and the kitchen is outside on the porch. The cabin is one room with a double bed and fireplace. There is a tiny loft space with a bed, that could sleep a child. There is a inside bathroom, with a bit of a piddly shower, but the water is hot, so it works. On the porch area is the kitchen, with a small fridge, microwave, kettle and 2 plate stove. There is also a small table with 2 chairs. Outside is a semi-enclosed area with a built-in couch and a braai pit. The place is not fully enclosed, this whole farm is not for runaway type doggies. You will get visits from the farm dogs (mostly Border Collies) and other dogs staying at the campsite. So there is lots of fun and happiness on the go. Our boys adore meeting so many new holiday friends. There are a few other cottages of various sizes on the farm and the small campsite on the river.
The main house has a little honesty shop, where you can get some locally made goodies or a couple of beers if you forgot to bring enough. Behind the main house is a concrete swimming pool with deck chairs and surrounded by trees, a lovely spot to cool of when it is hot. We didn't swim this time as it was pretty chilly. A little way down the road there is also a dam, which you can swim and kayak in. It was the fullest we have ever seen it. There is a lovely deck under the trees, where you can relax and have sundowners and watch the weavers. A little braai pit has been added next to the deck, so you could even do a whole braai picnic. On the banks you will find a couple of kayaks for paddling around in. Our boys love running around the dam 'chasing' us while we paddle around. They are a bit less keen to be in the kayak.
Obviously, the best thing to do while in the Cederberg area is hiking/trail running. The farm hiking trails start above the concrete pool, through a little gate. You will get a map in the booklet on arrival. The hikes are easy to find and well marked. The best one is the Stoney Passage hike, which is about 8.5km. It starts with a nice zigzag climb, over loose rock, followed up a short scramble through the stoney passage. Once you reach the top it is quite flat and there are lovely views across the valley. After a little way the path drops down a bit, then you get to a fork where you can either go up to the spring or down towards the farm. It is jeep track up to the spring and from there you can go along the bush trail down, which we did before and it was very overgrown. So since we were running we went back the way we had come along the jeep track to the t-junction. From there it is a gentle slope back down to the farm. At the trees you can either continue straight to the road, or take a left fork onto the donkey trail which will take you back to the gate you started at. It is a really lovely hike and only requires a little fitness for the climb up. Those less fit can stroll along the Donkey Trail. There isn't any water on the trail, so make sure to take for your dogs.
If you are a crazy like me and training for an ultra marathon, so need to get some distance in, you can run along the gravel road that runs the length of the Biedouw River. Or you could walk, cycle or drive it. I needed to do a 32km for my training and from the farm to the river crossing, which is only crossable in summer, is 17km and mostly flat. I didn't think it would be good for the dogs to do the full thing with me while they still had the rest of the weekend to play with. So Andrew followed in the car to pick them up so they would only run sections with me. I started, probably a little too long, before sunrise. The weather forecast for Clanwilliam, the last place with cell reception, had said it would be 11°C, so I wore shorts. I discovered that the weather is vastly different, in the valley, than in the town and ended up freezing my ass off in 1°C for most of the way! But the views were lovely and there were so many different types of wild flowers to look at on the way. I'm not used to running on the road and I can honestly say it is mentally tougher than mountains for someone easily bored. The last 5kms which I ran without company were the worst, but I was rewarded with lots of doggy love at the end and a video of Pirate singing for me from the car 💕. I'm not posting the video here, as I don't think everyone would appreciate his singing as much as his adoring mom does. When the river is crossable in summer you could cross over into the Northern Cape at the Doring Rivier. There is also a funny little pub at the last farm before the crossing, it looks like one of those spots where the owner would sit and tell you a million stories about the area.
If you want to do a tough and slow hike the Krakadouw hike is about 45mins drive away. Dogs aren't allowed here though, as it is part of Cape Nature. It is about a 12km out and back and mostly rocky, with some scrambling at the top. It is partially marked with cairns, so you should be quite confident with your navigation skills to do it. You can also visit the small town of Wuppertal on the way and the Heuningvlei Valley where lots of rooibos is grown.
Enjo is one of the best places we have stayed and definitely a must for anyone who loves travelling with their dogs. They book up quite quickly, especially during flower season, so be quick!