Part 1: Summer Holiday '22/23
Ahhh the summer holidays have arrived. Now that lockdowns are on the back burner we could do a further reaching trip than for the last couple of years. First up Baviaanskloof - to stay in the Speekhout Treehouse again. We stayed there 2 years ago and loved it, it is such a wonderfully relaxing place and the treehouse is just awesome. It was about a 7 hour drive from Cape Town along the R62 and luckily dry, since we had been having so much stormy weather. The storm did catch us just after we arrived, phew. Paulien and Mark, the owners, are super organised with emailing you all the info you need before arriving, even the load shedding area! This is really helpful when traveling to these middle of nowhere type places, especially when there is no petrol station, shops, or a road you can't travel without a 4x4. They have a few options for accommodation, including 2 cottages, the treehouse and a camping area. The treehouse has 2 double beds and 1 single bed and is open plan. The space is small, so if you are more than 1 couple don't expect privacy. They do specify on their website that it is not easy to get around in and not suited for bigger people, and I can confirm that this is the case. The stairs going up to the front door are uneven and the doorways are small. So if you are not a smallish, more agile person, then rather book one of the other cottages. Kids would adore the Treehouse though! Since we stayed there last time they have fixed it up a little, small things like changing the position of the one bed and replacing a large table in the kitchen/lounge/bedroom area with a smaller one. The kitchen space is tiny, but has everything you need, including a 2 plate gas stove, coffee boudum, toaster and small fridge. They even have a tub for putting veg waste in for the piggies! The bathroom is outside across a small wooden walkway. It is so lovely to have a shower while a weaver builds his nest nearby. The shower and basin water run down to water the plants below the tree. Downstairs, outside, is a peaceful braai and deck area, and they have recently added a little splash pool which is so great. We made sure to use it, even though it was a bit chilly.
Unlike our previous stay here, which was sunny and warm, this time it rained most of the time and was bit chilly. But we could still get out to do the short hikes on the farm and enjoy being in nature. On the south west side of the farm is a rock formation called the Crocodile, which really does look like one. You can do a short hike up onto his back and get lovely views over the farm and to the mountains to the north. If you do a circular route around the farm and up and down the crocodile it is about 2.5km and mostly easy walking. On the north eastern side of the farm is another lovely short hike called Ou Beeste-Paadjie, this is steeper and more strenuous, but only 2km out and back. The views from here over the farm are lovely and there's a good view of the crocodile. From the top you can bundu-bash across to the top of the 3rd hike, Orrelpype. This route takes you to the top, near the crocodile's mouth. It links onto the trail from the neighbouring farm, which runs along behind the crocodile and back into the riverbed near the gate of the farm. I'm not sure if we were allowed to be on this section, but there was no one around, so we did it. I had actually emailed the neighbouring farm about staying there and hiking, but they didn't bother to get back to me, so their loss.
Off the farm you can take a drive down the Baviaanskloof road and look at the surrounding mountains. Near to Speekhout is a restaurant and craft store. We stopped in at the craft store on our previous stay and they had a variety of nice things. The store has moved, but I'm sure it's still got good stuff. Further along the road is the Baviaans Padstal, which is a great little shop, selling souvenirs, homemade jams and goodies, and it also has a coffee shop. Much further along there is an olive farm called Kamerkloof, which has a farmer's market on Saturdays. So we were lucky to be there at the right time and got some delicious olive yummies.
If you are looking for peace and quiet in a beautiful setting then this farm is a good spot to choose. A bit off the beaten track, so not good for an overnight stop. Their pricing is reasonable, a bit under R500pp/pn and dogs stay free. There is a fence around the treehouse, so if you need to keep your doggos from wandering then this would be the best option as I don't think the other cottages have fences.