Tag Archives: klein karoo

Wood Cabins and Warm Water at Warmwaterberg Spa near Barrydale (2019-07-01) Accommodation | Photo Gallery 09 APR 2020

Lying some 26 km above Barrydale on the famous Route 62 tourist route (and sitting literally across the road from the famous Ronnie’s Sex Shop pub in case that helps you pinpoint it on the map), is Warmwaterberg Spa, one of the oldest hot spring resorts in South Africa, having opened all the way back in 1887!

Blessed with a natural warm water mineral hot spring and the tranquil landscape views of the Klein Karoo, Warmwaterberg Spa is a fantastic family friendly get away in the literal middle of nowhere, but with enough amenities that you don’t actually feel like you are in fact stranded in the middle of nowhere.

From its historic bath houses first built in 1886, its modern studio bath houses completed in 2015, the timber chalets, to the caravan and camping sites, the resort caters to all levels of budget and its wide open spaces, lawns and of course relaxing pool complex all come together to make for a perfect getaway where you can let the kids run amok while you soak up those warm mineral waters.

Given that you are more than 26 km from the nearest town (the spa sits somewhat between Barrydale and Ladismith), there is a simple restaurant and bar on the premises, as well as a small shop stocking some basic essentials (and of course a snack treat or two). There is also a big lapa which makes under roof gatherings possible should you need it. (There are also two walking/hiking routes on the property, but truth be told, I have only ever been there to relax, not build up a sweat by waltzing around the in Klein Karoo heat!)

For this particular holiday stay, we joined Chantelle’s folks Monty and Cheryl for a stay in one of the rustic timber chalets among all the peacocks, and in addition to the many trips to the always interesting little town of Barrydale, enjoyed many a swim, braai, and game of Jenga over the course of our stay in the resort. (Oh, and savoured a drink or two of course!)

Spinning Cotton into Clothes with the Barrydale Hand Weavers (2019-07-02) Photo Gallery | Shopping 07 APR 2020

There aren’t that many commercial hand weaving ventures left in South Africa, but if you ever find yourself in the delightful little town of Barrydale on the border of the Overberg and Klein Karoo regions (and which is known for mixing farmers and artisans), you’ll stumble across one such venture that is very much thriving – and has a pretty feel good story to boot!

The brainchild of Carol Morris and German-trained weaver Tivane Mavuma (who come from running running a knitwear operation in Swaziland), Barrydale Hand Weavers was established to create quality hand-loomed products while also serving as a way to uplift the local community through upskill and opportunity.

Spun by members of the community itself, the finest high-grade cotton is then transformed by a group of trained local weavers into all manner of homeware products including bathmats, cushion covers, rugs, table runners, and their famous flat-weave towels – all on rickety age old wooden hand looms.

In addition to their local storefront in Barrydale itself, Barrydale Hand Weavers already supply boutiques and shops across South Africa, while also having found moderate success in exporting their woven products to countries such as Canada, the United States, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK.

Once you are done perusing their wares, browsing the art, and maybe sipping a warm coffee in the unique brick courtyard of their main shop, you also have the option of taking a drive down the road to the actual factory itself – a nondescript building tucked away in Barrydale’s small industrial area that houses all of Barrydale Hand Weaver’s prized looms and weaving staff.

It is super interesting to watch how this centuries old craft works and how incredibly beautiful pieces of patterned cloth are able to emerge through such not quite as simple as what they first seem looms. (And yes, as you can see from the picture above, if you’re cute or ask nicely enough, they might even given you the chance to have a spin on the loom!)

Well worth a stop and look see then.

SCV Wine, Brandy and Beer Tasting at the Barrydale Cellar (2019-07-02) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 30 MAR 2020

This is South Africa so of course we try to produce wine pretty much everywhere, and the Klein Karoo is certainly no exception. Situated along the Huisrivier river, right at the entrance to the diminutive town of Barrydale is the Barrydale Cellar, a well known local winery and brandy distillery that also plays home to a pretty unique restaurant experience in the form of the Cellar Restaurant.

In 2005 the Barrydale Cellar and neighbouring Ladismith Cellar joined forces to form the Southern Cape Vineyards (SCV), the umbrella label under which both wineries now produce their wines. In addition to the wine, the cellars also produce a range of other alcoholic drinks, including beers (like the Lady Lager and Barry Ale), ciders, grappa, and of course brandy, with signature lines like Oude Molen and the premium Joseph Barry being the most well known of these.

There is a small intimate tasting room at the Barrydale Cellar operation that allows you to get more familiar with their product lines, but for most the allure of visiting the cellar is of course the Cellar Restaurant – a restaurant space tucked into an old brandy aging cellar with its raw brick walls, aged cement roof, stacked wine barrels and rustic copper light fixtures. There is also a complete brewing room situated behind a glass wall, allowing you on certain days to actually see first-hand how some of the craft beer gets brewed.

On this particular visit of ours we were of course obligated to taste all the wines (which were excellent), but sadly enough, our plans for the day did unfortunately not include a meal at this most interesting looking restaurants. Oh well, another time then…

Koi and Coffee at The Blue Cow in Barrydale (2019-07-02) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 15 MAR 2020

For the June school holidays last year we found ourselves spending a bit of time in Barrydale at the relaxing Warmwaterberg Spa setup, and seeing as this is somewhat of a tradition by now, we obviously made time for a coffee and cake stop at The Blue Cow.

Situated on the Cooke farm in Barrydale, the Blue Cow sits at the edge of a small farm dam (jokingly referred to as the Barrydale Waterfront) and offers a nice selection of homely cakes, coffee, farm fresh salads and very light lunches. The views of Barrydale’s surrounding hills and farmland are refreshing and the countless koi and weaver birds surrounding the coffee shop makes for a tranquil, nature rich stop.

The Blue Cow has in fact taken it a step further now, having birthed its own accommodation option in the form of four cottages at the so-called Blue Cow Barn. Chantelle and her folks get on particularly well with the owner of the Blue Cow, which translates into VERY lengthy and sociable visits.

Not that I’m complaining though – all the more time to stroll around and take a LOT of photos of what really are beautiful surrounds.

Lunch at the Country Pumpkin in Barrydale (2019-07-01) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 10 NOV 2019

This year’s June Holiday adventure took place at Warmwaterberg Spa, a spot just outside Barrydale in the Klein Karoo. We were spending the time away with Chantelle’s folks, and as such decided to meet up for an opening lunch at The Country Pumpkin on the way out to Warmwaterberg.

Mind you, selecting a spot for lunch in Barrydale is not the easiest of tasks, seeing as you are literally spoiled for choice given how many interesting little eateries have popped up alongside the R62 (otherwise known as Route 62) as it slides its way through the town. That said, the Country Pumpkin has been around for years now and this popular, brightly hued little restaurant is one of Cheryl and Monty’s Barrydale staples – meaning that I was quite keen to give it a shot.

Given that the weather was looking a little grey and cold outside, we opted to grab a table inside, and pleasingly the Country Pumpkin is quite a homely affair. The warm inviting atmosphere was pleasant, the food comforting, and as an added bonus, there is even a farm shop attached to the eatery, ready to further empty your pockets on all manner of delicious things as you leave the premises.

A good refuelling stop then (though it would have been nice not to walk out to a sky that had now given way to a couple of rainclouds!)

Craft Beer, Pizza and Art at The Makers Brew in Barrydale (2019-07-03) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 30 OCT 2019

So craft breweries really are popping up everywhere. Of course the village of Barrydale hasn’t been spared, but pleasingly the one that they got is a pretty good one. Say hello to the The Maker’s Brew.

Started by a Capetonian looking for a change of pace, the Maker’s Brew stands out on restaurant-lined main thoroughfare of Barrydale thanks to its strikingly modern look. Its compact, sparse, contemporary space is eye-catching and the perfect complement to the pretty good beers that owner Ryno Reyneke has managed to concoct.

The Amber, Porter, Blonde and Saison styles are all represented, and you would do well to do a tasting while nibbling on a pizza, playing with wooden blocks, and watching the tourist traffic go on by.

(Oh, and if the beer itself isn’t beautiful enough, there is always next door’s Helen Vaughan Handmade ceramics gallery to admire!)

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Gourmet Gelato at Coco’s Ice Cream in Barrydale (2019-07-03) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 30 SEP 2019

A scoop of well made ice cream is a wonderful thing. Especially if it is gelato, and especially if you are grabbing it on a nice and sunny day. So then we were rather pleased to spot the pinup style board beckoning us over to Coco’s Ice Cream Shop down main road Barrydale during our earlier June School Holidays trip.

Sandwiched into a small shop space that is part of a larger orange hued pumpkin-themed business complex, Coco’s Ice Cream Shop serves up a colorful array of gelato scoops, with the ice cream appearing in all manner of delectable (and interesting) flavours.

If you have kids or adults with a sweet tooth in your adventuring party, then you may as well give in already, grab a scoop or two, sit down on the shaded deck, and watch Barrydale main street life pass you by while you attempt to drip as little as possible.

Which really is kind of impossible if you understand the physics of ice cream and kids.

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Hertzoggies and Fruit Cubes at Algerynskraal Farm Stall near Ladismith (2019-07-04) Farm Stalls | Photo Gallery 20 SEP 2019

The first half of our holiday over, the girls and I were driving from Barrydale to Mossel Bay via the Garcia Pass and through Riversdale, when about 15 kilometers outside of Ladismith (just before we needed to turn off the famed R62 and onto the R323) we spotted a giant metal coffee pot sculpture beckoning us to pull over. The marketing stunt worked and so we discovered Algerynskraal Farm Stall, a Klein Karoo farm stall in the middle of nearly nowhere.

Situated on the farm Algerynskraal, originally a farming outpost purchased by Phillip Lodewyk Le Grange in the mid 1860’s, the Algerynskraal Farm Stall lives in a classic, renovated old farm house, with each and every room brimming with all manner of vintage Klein Karoo curios, gifts, arts & crafts, and little bits of history scattered about.

There is a small restaurant onsite that produces a wide variety of light meals, home bakes and the odd traditional Sunday roast or two, and the front reception is stocked with all manner of delicious nibbles to pack in for the road ahead.

Ample space, farm animals, interesting bric-a-brac, the tranquility that comes from a farm in the Klein Karoo, and friendy staff – a lovely (and unexpected) little discovery indeed!

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The Stalactites and Stalagmites of Cango Caves in Oudtshoorn (2017-07-05) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 24 MAY 2018

Caves and ostriches, that is pretty much what immediately comes to mind if you think of Oudtshoorn, and rightfully so – no tourist visit or holiday with kids to the largest town in the Little Karoo is complete without having visited at least one ostrich show ranch and of course the world famous Cango Caves!

Situated in the foothills of the Swartberg mountain range, the Cango Caves can be found in the Precambrian limestone of the area, stretching for about 4 km (in length) underground. Based on cave paintings and other recoved artifacts, the cave system appears to have been in use throughout prehistory over a long period during the Middle and Later Stone Ages, however, it was only after its rediscovery in 1780 (by local farmer Jacobus van Zyl), that the caves took on its role as one of the more popular local places to visit.

Due to accessibility constraints and in efforts to preserve the caves themselves (the limestone is particularly susceptible to heat, light, touch, and of course the carbon dioxide that we breathe out), only about a quarter of the actual cave system is open to visitors – who may only only enter the cave as part of a guided group.

Tours are conducted at regular intervals throughout the day, with the two main tour types being the “Standard Tour” which takes around an hour to complete, and the “Adventure Tour” which takes around an hour and a half and has you crawling through a number of very narrow spaces and up some very vertical faces!

(Not really recommended if you are on the larger than normal side though – people can and do get stuck, sometimes horribly so.)

The tourist parts of the caves have been made wonderfully accessible, with knowledgeable tour guides and clever lighting bringing to life the beautiful stalagmite and stalactite formations, in a space that really is one of those places that you need to experience in person in order to get a feel for its majesty.

It is also worth mentioning that the visitors centre that you need to move through in order to reach the caves is also rather well laid out, featuring an excellent and informative “Interpretive Centre” that is well worth spending a little time in.

Now the last time that Chantelle and I visited the caves was back in 2007, so I was rather pleased to be able to return to this otherworldly place a full ten years later – the perfect showpiece for our two little munchkins in tow on what was now turning out to be a very attraction filled holiday roadtrip.

Pleasingly, the Cango Caves were exactly as brilliant as how I remembered them to be.

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Fun Fact: You don’t really want to still be walking along the pathway when the lights are turned off (which they do in order to further preserve the caves). Unfortunately for Jessica and myself though, this was exactly what happened as we were making our way out (my knee was giving a bit of hassle, so I was moving slowly by this point of the tour).

Seriously, I’m amazed that I didn’t need to dig out a clean pair of pants for Jessica – that was one massive pitch dark fright for one so young to have experienced! :D

Related Link: Cango Caves | Wikipedia | Oudtshoorn | #JuneHolidays2017