Meijer's Rust(ic) Farmstay
Last long weekend until December holidays! We decided to travel a bit further and found a very secluded cottage at Meijer's Rust farm. The farm is in the small town of De Rust, in the Western Cape, at the southern end of the Meeringspoort. The drive from Cape Town is about 5:30hr if you go on the N1, a bit longer along the N2. We did the N1, which can be quite hair raising with all the trucks and lunatic drivers over-taking unsafely, but we made it. The drive is quite scenic, taking you through 3 passes, first Du Toits Kloof and the tunnel, second The Hex River Pass and lastly Meeringspoort. The Meeringspoort pass is beautiful with towering orange folded mountains - most beautiful going south to north. There are a lot of rest stops and picnic areas along the pass and also a famous waterfall, which is worth a visit. It can't be seen from the road, but is just a short walk from the parking area, just be careful on the smooth rocks. Dogs are allowed, even though it is run by Cape Nature, just make sure to keep them on lead as it is normally quite busy and there can be kids and elderly people on the path. There is a myth about a mermaid who lives in the pool at the bottom of the waterfall who sends floods in her anger at the valley being split by the road. After the last really big flood it was said she too was washed away and a fisherman found her body near Mossel Bay, which caused much excitement at their museum. I found a lovely website De Rust Heritage that has this story and all sorts of other interesting information on the town, check it out if you are interested in that sort of thing when you visit a place. It also has a section explaining the names of the 25 drifts you cross when driving the pass.
Meijer's Rust is a working farm with cattle and eland. Most of the farm buildings, chalets and campsite are near the entrance to the farm, just off from the road. We stayed in the Stone Cottage which is further into the farm, you drive past the other buildings and over a steep hill. You need a high clearance vehicle to get to the cottage, doesn't need to be 4x4 though, our Ford Kuga managed fine. The views as you go over the hill are incredible, over towards the Swartberg mountains and then down over the rest of the farm. If you stay in one of the other chalets, make sure you take a walk up this road. The stone cottage is an old single room house made of karoo klip which has been fix up and plastered part way to keep the draft out. It has small windows so is quite dark inside, but there is enough electric lighting. The room has a comfortable double bed, an extra single bed, small 2 seater table and a couple of arm chairs. There isn't a wardrobe or drawers to pack your clothes into, which is a bit silly, as there is space for one and it's not the nicest to live out of a suitcase. There is also a large fireplace inside. Outside is a big space with a braai, large bench table and a gas stove. There is a small fridge and sufficient crockery, including a coffee bodum. The bathroom is also outside, with a bath, shower and loo. The shower is lovely and strong and hot, as long as there is no wind, which can make it uncomfortably cold. If you are someone who can't handle creatures (like a visiting field mouse) or slightly brown water, then this place is not for you. The water is very brown, but is fresh and tastes fine. The cottage is not fenced in at all and the cows and eland come right up to the house, so runaway or chasey type dogs would not manage here. There are also a lot of baboons in the area. Basically well trained, clingy, goodie-4-shoes type doggos would be fine here. There are a few resident dogs too, including funny little Armani, the stringy farm Boston Terrier, who suits the name Seamus much better (you will understand when you see him). The cows can be quite loud and in the way, but very cute. The eland also come close to the cottage to graze, which is a treat.
The farm is large and has many farm tracks running through it. The town holds a trail running race every year that runs through the farm, the neighbouring farm and the town, the route is marked with white arrows. The race is held in May, so the markings were still good during our stay. You can run or hike the full thing, about 18km or just do part of it, the host will quite happily help you with a route. It is mostly farm tracks, but quite technical running as it is loose rocks and many areas are washed away. The tracks could probably be cycled by strong mountain bikers. The trail takes you around the northern and western side of the farm and then once you get to the back of the farm you drop down into the riverbed. The trail crosses the river a few times, so in the wet season you will most likely get wet shoes. There is a very small section that runs up onto the slope above the river, which if you are worried about exposure you might find difficult, but it is a really short section and not scrambly at all. After splashing through the river you end up in the Voelgesang farm. Here there can be more wandering cows, we met a very pregnant, very hungry lady on the path. The farm exits onto the main road. From here you carry on along the road back towards the Poort, staying on the road for a few km, until you see the white stones leading you to a small gate. This takes you back into Meijer's Rust farm, and towards the main buildings. It's then a fun climb up the steep hill and drop down the other side, where you can either go straight to the cottage or run around the fields. We did this route twice and encountered all the cows coming down the road when we were going up on the second time, which was a bit of bad timing. The babies were very silly and ran all the way back down away from us. While one of the bigger ones came running after shouting at them.
In the village there are a quite few restaurants for a town so small, and some shops. I'm sure most of the restaurants would allow dogs, we went to Ray's, which seemed pretty popular. They have a nice outside area and serve breakfast and light lunches.
The area is good for growing olives and we did a wonderful Olive oil tasting at De Rustica. If you are keen to drive further you could visit the wine farms in Calizdorp or the Cango Caves in Oudshoorn.
We really enjoyed our stay and will definitely return when next we visit or pass through the area.