Getting High on Life – Why your next getaway should be in the mountains, and where to go
Many people think about the beach when they plan a holiday, with mountains often being underrated as a destination. However, there are a multitude of compelling reasons why you should plan a trip to the mountains as your next getaway.
Some of these reasons include stunning natural scenery that stretches as far as the eye can see, an escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life, no crowds, a switch off from technology, the opportunity to immerse yourself in nature and to enjoy the outdoors. Fresh air, exercise if you want it, relaxation if you prefer, and the perfect place to connect with your family away from distractions. Mountains offer you an opportunity to slow down, pause and find peace by immersing yourself in your surroundings.
Mountain hideaways to try
For those considering getting their head in the clouds and escaping for a mountain break, the below list of suggestions – which are all in the Olifants River Mountains (part of the Groot Winterhoek wilderness area) and right on Cape Town’s doorstep in the Bergrivier region – might help you decide where to go.
Pampoenfontein Guest Farm is a secluded retreat that offers five beautifully furnished self-catering cottages tucked into pristine fynbos-covered mountains. Guests can enjoy the trails which wind through the wilderness area and reveal magnificent views as well as stunning flower sightings.
The Cape Floristic Region is one of the most biologically diverse areas on earth, home to over 9,000 species and the Groot Winterhoek Mountains are considered a vital sanctuary for the preservation of many endemic species of fynbos, some of which are threatened. Flower viewing at Pampoenfontein is best from August to November when the bulbs are in flower – but from June to December proteas and pincushions are prolific, while from November to February the ericas are in bloom.
The area is also home to about 100 different species of bird, including some that are uncommon in Southern Africa like Veraux’s (Black) Eagle, the Cape Sugarbird and the Cape Rock Jumper – so a fantastic getaway for twitchers.
The Berghoff-Fynbos Chalets are another mountain getaway must. Berghoff has three self-catering chalets situated in remote spots on a commercial protea farm in the mountains above the town of Porterville. A beautiful dam is perfectly suited for swimming and boating – with a row boat and two canoes available for guests to use. Tracts of natural veld are ideal for hiking and sedate wandering to enjoy the lovely mountain views.
Also tucked high up in the mountains is Beaverlac, which offers camping and cabins on 5000 hectares of pristine wilderness. Beaverlac is blessed with two rivers, the Ratel (Honey Badger) and the Olifants, and offers visitors a wide variety of hiking trails, rock pools and waterfalls. There are several caves on the farm, some of which are decorated with paintings. The area is a sanctuary for several wildlife species such as Rhebok, Klipspringer, Grysbokkie, Caracal, African Wild Cat, Honey Badgers, and Leopards, and Beaverlac’s rich diversity of birds includes the majestic Black Eagle, Jackal Buzzard and colourful sunbirds – to name only a very few. The rivers are home to Clanwilliam Redfins and the rare Clanwilliam Yellowfish – but fishing is not allowed.
Another not-to-be-missed mountain retreat is the Cedarpeak wilderness area in the foothills of the Groot Winterhoek mountains. Cedarpeak offers accommodation in several secluded cottages with easy mountain access and sweeping views, as well as an abundance of outdoor activities such as hiking, kloofing, rockpool swimming, fishing and more. You can also spot ancient rock paintings here.
Cedarpeak allows guests exclusive access to 8000 hectares of natural wilderness and the largest most diverse range of endemic plant species in the world. Animals such as duikers, grey rhebok, clawless otters, baboons, and the rare Cape leopard can be found throughout the area and the rivers host the endangered Western Cape Yellowfish.
Other adventures to be had while on your mountain getaway
Additional activities that can be enjoyed during your mountain getaway include mountain biking – with all of these venues offering great trails to visitors, as well as other trails in the area (such as the Dasklip Pass Gravel Bike Route) and gin tasting at Ginsmith, an artisanal gin distillery tucked into the mountains (booking ahead is key for this remote distillery). For those keen to test their adrenalin levels, there are companies which offer tandem paragliding and hang-gliding experiences off the Dasklip Pass and at Pampoenfontein. A short drive down the mountain takes you into the quaint village of Porterville – a beautiful town that has now been dubbed one of the most desirable and popular country towns in the Western Cape. For foodies, there are a myriad of coffee shops, restaurants, and eateries. Porterville has become a mecca for many diverse artists and an art experience is highly recommended. Visit them in their studios to view and buy a wide range of art from ceramics to paintings and jewellery.
Whether you are alone, a couple, a family with children of any age, or a group of friends – the mountains about the town of Porterville offer something for everyone. From a sedate and relaxed getaway to an adventurous adrenalin-filled outing – you will find it all in the mountains.
For more information on where to get away in the Bergrivier area as well as other things to see and do, visit Bergrivier Tourism & Accommodation South Africa .