Tag Archives: warm water

Warm Water and Mini Doughnuts in Hartenbos (2020-01-06) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 15 JUN 2020

I don’t think that we’ll get the chance to head up to the Garden Route this year again, but at least we did enjoy a good week long break up that side of the world back at the start of this year, just before Covid-19 started to make its global presence felt.

With us usually based in Mossel Bay, the siren’s call of Hartenbos is too strong to ignore and so, as has now quickly become a tradition, we make sure to haul our butts over to the ATKV Seefront to take at least one dip in the warm water swimming pool, people watch the predominantly Afrikaans holiday-goers, take a stroll along the boardwalk, watch the sea, and of course have multiple goes at the delicious little fun mini donuts of the Pizza and Donut Den.

And if the timing is right, we’ll even pop over to the little informal market that hovers around just outside the Seefront complex to see if we can rustle up some pancakes. (We did. So now I’m just patiently waiting for Emily to get a little older so that we can tackle the more serious business of a proper family Putt Putt challenge!)

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 resort 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. (Additionally, 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 in 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!)

Warm Water Swims and Donuts at ATKV Hartenbos (2019-09-28) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 20 MAR 2020

I have already mentioned that last September I took Jessica and Emily up with me to Mossel Bay for a couple of days at Pinnacle Point with Ryan. Unfortunately the weather didn’t exactly play along for our trip away from home, but nevertheless we made the most of what we had and even managed to nip in a couple of warm water swims at the excellent ATKV Hartenbos Seefront while we were at it.

If you aren’t aware of it, the small town of Hartenbos was (as a lot of our old towns were) originally a farm, but in 1933 the South African Railways and Harbours (Transnet) turned it into a holiday resort for their lower-rung employees. In 1936 the ATKV (“Afrikaans Language and Cultural Society” in English) bought the farm, divided it into lots (but didn’t allow the construction of permanent structures until 1994!) and expanded on the resort facilities.

Over the years Hartenbos has grown into a proper little town (though for the most part its iconic caravan parks remain), complete with schools, a private hospital, sports clubs and several churches, and more importantly, has embedded itself as and remains an integral part of Afrikaner culture – so much so that to this day Hartenbos remains a bastion for Afrikaans holidaymakers.

The ATKV Hartenbos Seefront (i.e. seafront) development stands watch over the beach and forms the central hub for holidaymakers and tourists alike. With its fun-packed waterpark, shops and restaurants, amphitheater, colourful facades and vibey atmosphere (especially during the school holidays period), it is pretty much the place to be in Hartenbos.

Mini doughnuts from the Pizza & Donut Den aside, we’ve also quite taken to their indoor warm water pool, so much so that nowadays a visit to the Mossel Bay area is pretty much guaranteed to include at least one swim in their relaxing lukewarm waters!

So for this trip, bad weather be damned – the girls had a blast, Ryan and I were tired out, and a feast of chocolate and caramel drenched donuts were ingested – Dit is altyd lekker by die see!

Weekend away at Warmwaterberg Spa (2016-04-15) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 10 MAY 2016

I may have mentioned it already, but I had a horrible end to last year and a bad beginning to this one. Thus, now that I can pretty much walk normally again (at last!!), I’m doing my best to salvage the year by attempting to go on at least one getaway a month for the rest of the year – and so far we’re doing a pretty good job of it!

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February was Jacobsbaai, March was Mossel Bay, and April was Warmwaterberg Spa (just outside of Barrydale if you are looking for it on the map).

Warmwaterberg Spa is one of the oldest hot spring resorts in the country, having opened in 1887, meaning it turns a healthy 129 years old this year! Chantelle and I have actually been there before, way back in 2010, and we were both pretty excited to now head back and show off the place to the girls.

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If you have never been there before, Warmwaterberg Spa is a very simple operation, a place with all the necessities in place but without much luxury attached to it. There are quite a couple of different accommodation options, including caravan and tenting sites, to be had (we chose a timber cabin for the six of us), a restaurant and little shop on the grounds, and most important of all, the pools.

However, what it does have in spades is space, starlit skies, and stunning landscape scenery, with idyllic views that literally stretch on for miles – no matter which direction you look.

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Discounting the historic Roman baths on the property, there are three public pools in total, each a different temperature. Seeing as it was too cold to make use of the cold water pool, we pretty much stuck to the two warm pools, with Jessica surprising us all by declaring her independence (thank you water wings!) and swimming on her own without clinging to us each and every second like she normally does!

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We were joined on this trip by Monty and Cheryl, and the girls thoroughly enjoyed having Oupa and Ouma along for the adventure. Our weekend flashed by, with lots of swim sessions (including a night dip for Chantelle and myself), peacock stalking, chicken chasing, braai and a potjie suppers, a restaurant breakfast and even a coffee trip to Barrydale.

Oh, and Emily was particularly impressed by being allowed to sleep in her own big bed for a change!

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As luck would have it, the weather played along beautifully for the Friday and Saturday of our weekend away, with the clouds only rolling in on Sunday, making for a slightly damp car packing session.

The girls had fun, I had fun, so yes, apart from the horrible 3 km dirt road to get to resort’s reception, Warmwaterberg Spa Weekend Away 2016 was a brilliant success!

(Naturally, I took loads of photos, as is customary on any of my weekends away…)

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Sadly though, despite it’s close proximity to Warmwaterberg Spa (it is literally just before the gravel road turn off), we didn’t make time to pop in at the famous Ronnie’s Sex Shop pub. Maybe when the girls are a little older…

Related Link: Warmwaterberg Spa

Real Deal Warm Water at The Caledon Hotel, Casino & Spa (2015-11-05) Photo Gallery 15 NOV 2015

So finally, Chantelle and I took advantage of Caledon Hotel, Casino & Spa’s long running promotion, The Real Deal (previously known as The Reel Deal, changed I suspect because most people – including us – failed to spot the pun first time around).

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We headed out early Thursday morning (having left the kids to sleep over with Chantelle’s parents the previous evening), stopping for breakfast first at Fred & Max in Elgin (a failure, as it turns out that they do in fact NOT actually serve breakfast), followed by a fantastic breakfast at The Pool Room at Oak Valley (a success, because it turns out that they do in fact serve breakfast).

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For R125 each, we received R100’s worth of casino credits for some slot machine play, a choice of selected meals from the daVinci restaurant, and free access to the Spa’s natural warm mineral pools – in other words quite a decent deal if you ask me!

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Having stayed at the Caledon Hotel once or twice before (many years ago at the infancy of our relationship), we were looking quite forward to spending some time in the warm water pools again, but in the end we decided to first get the gambling out of the way – neither of us being particularly fond of casinos just by the way.

As per usual, the slot machines didn’t work out very well for me, but Chantelle had a great time, making a tidy little profit on The Queen of the Nile game – meaning that she walked out there with jangling pockets and a huge smile on her face. (But no photos, as those are strictly forbidden in the casino. They are literally on you as quick as a flash, as Chantelle discovered much to her surprise!)

I on the other hand had by then long since wandered out of the casino area and had ended up in the incredibly poorly stocked kids game arcade, happily playing some ancient Lethal Weapon pinball for entertainment!

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The natural warm water pools were an absolute treat as expected, with us making sure to take a dip in pretty much all the pools on offer, including the Victorian Bath, the floatation pool, and the small, elevated, but unbearably hot Khoi San pools!

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In the end, we spent the majority of our day in the pools, our muscles soaking in the warm, mineral enriched goodness and leaving us relaxed, light-headed, and content with the world!

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(Also, it’s well worth after you are all dried off and dressed, just to sit for a few minutes in the tranquil Zen Garden space. Perfect spot for some reflection and quiet time!)

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We finished up the day by taking advantage of our free food offer, and as for the meal at daVinci, well, it’s not fantastic of course, but that said, it’s not bad either – and when you think how much you have paid for it, you simply can’t help finishing up the day feeling rather chuffed with what really is a decent deal.

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So yeah, I enjoyed my day and Chantelle certainly seemed to as well – after all, she posed for these silly photos at the end of our adventure, meaning that she must have been in a good/silly mood!

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So a day well spent, and with our definitely worth it little break from life now over and done with, it was the long trip back to Bellville to pick up the kids (thanks Oupa and Ouma) and then head straight back home.

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Related Link: Caledon Casino, Hotel & Spa | The Real Deal Promotion