Following our wedding at the end of October last year, Guillaume and I hit the road for an epic 10-day honeymoon.
He had done all the booking and planning. Keeping his cards close to his chest, I had NO IDEA where we would be heading. Even during the road trip, every next destination remained a surprise to me – either until I figured it out or we arrived.
One thing is for sure, though, he did a stellar job of planning the most amazing getaway <3
Night 1: Rooi-Els
We kicked the trip off with an overnight stay my mom had booked for us at a beautiful self-catering cottage called Traume (meaning ‘dream’ in German) high up against the Rooi-Els mountains (about a 10-minute drive from our wedding venue). Guillaume’s bakkie battled to conquer the steep driveway, so we decided to park at the bottom and stroll up instead in our full wedding attire. The whole ordeal must have seemed slightly suspicious, as a neighbourhood watch vehicle hovered close by to keep an eye :’)
Our hosts had gone the extra mile to add a few special, romantic touches. After neither of us had gotten round to eating much during the festivities, a lavish charcuterie & cheese platter on the counter was a welcome sight and so was the ice-cold bottle of bubbly in the fridge!
The next morning we woke up to the most spectacular view of the entire False Bay – Clarence Drive snaking its way around the Kogelberg Mountain Range way down below on the one side and the rocky outcrops of Cape Point vaguely visible across the Atlantic Ocean expanse on the other.
We enjoyed a delicious cup of French press coffee (another top-quality touch) and leftovers from the snack platter while marvelling at the scenery before making the trek back down to our car and hitting the road to – what turned out to be – Wilderness!
Night 2 & 3: Magic Garden Glamping, Wilderness
When Guillaume and I first got together a couple of years ago, #VanLife was just becoming a thing on social media and we both loved the idea of that kind of free-wheeling, work-from-anywhere, explore-all-the-time lifestyle. We never pursued it beyond Instagram hashtags and Pinterest boards, but our appreciation for a good van has remained.
So, it was a no-brainer for Guillaume to book with Magic Garden Glamping when he spotted their mint-green VW Combi and perfectly rustic surrounds on Airbnb.
Located in Wilderness Heights, we wound our way up from the coastline and into the forested hills, passing smallholdings and friendly locals along the way. On arrival, we were met by yet another jaw-dropping view – this time a rolling sea of green.
Our co-host, Ross came to check us in along with sweet and curious, Honey-the-ridgeback. Thandi, his partner and our Airbnb contact, was at home – just a couple of hundred metres away – looking after their four-month-old baby. I just loved how wholesome and homely it all felt and we immediately settled right in. Also, when they found out we were on honeymoon, Ross came by with a bunch of fynbos and some Lindt chocolates to congratulate us. How lovely?
Apart from our cosily furnished van, we had a large wooden deck to enjoy meals on, an outdoor shower and a compost loo with a view! On our first full day there, we spent some time walking around town and then returned to just chill in our little slice of paradise. The next day, we made up for the laziness by setting out on a private hiking trail all the way down to the river below.
As the name suggests, magic abounds here and I hope we’ll be back there soon again.
Night 4: Mountain Zebra National Park
From Wilderness, we continued our route away from the ocean (a little to my surprise), crossing the Outeniqua Mountains and making our way on into the Klein- and finally Groot Karoo.
Our final destination was the Mountain Zebra National Park, but we decided to take the +/- 500km journey at a leisurely pace, stopping for lunch in Uniondale and stocking up on supplies in Graaff Reinet.
In the latter, I particularly enjoyed our experience at Merino Butchery. Looking for something interesting to braai that night, we certainly weren’t disappointed with their array of wildly creative wors – from tomato and feta to peach and even banana flavour! I asked the lady behind the counter who came up with these eccentric recipes and she pointed to a burly man sitting behind the cash register (whom I couldn’t see clearly through the DIY plastic curtain they had put up for COVID). That evening, Guillaume and I imagined how Mr. Merino must have quite the reputation among his friends – inviting them over for braais ever so often, only to surprise them with his latest wors experiment to gauge its success.
Anyway, we arrived in Mountain Zebra National Park as the heat of the day was just starting to dissipate and were treated to a candyfloss pink-turned-fiery red Karoo sunset, which we watched from our chalet’s lovely cool stoep.
The next day we set out for a game drive on the Kranskop- and Rooiplaat Loops as soon as the camp gates opened, but the heat soon overtook us. While we didn’t see much animal-wise (we were hoping for a lion and maybe even a cheetah sighting), the vistas were more than satisfying.
A highlight was stopping for lunch at the Fonteinkloof Picnic Site where we also had a refreshing dip in the pool. Unfortunately, we only had one night in the park, so started wending our way back to the gate soon after.
Find out more about Mountain Zebra National Park.
Night 5: Midholme Farmstay, Cradock
Fortunately, our next destination was no more than 50km away – the quaint Midholme Farm Stay just beyond Cradock.
We were delighted to find a family of four Jack Russels – the youngest, a waddling pup and the oldest a sugar-faced ouma – had taken on the ‘welcoming party’ portfolio. The enthusiastic quartet was soon followed by our sweet and down-to-earth host, Marna who checked us in and made sure we were comfortable.
We spent the late afternoon/early evening around the fire pit and enjoyed watching the array of farm pets – rabbits, ducks, chickens, dogs and even a pony – tucking into their supper and settling down for bed.
Night 6 – 9: A Hog’s Life, Hogsback
At this point in the trip, I still had no idea what the rest of the itinerary held, but in my heart of hearts, I hoped we were heading to Hogsback. Since I first heard about its fantastical forests and wealth of waterfalls, I’ve always wanted to see this mythical village for myself.
Luckily, Guillaume seems to know me well and Hogsback indeed turned out to be the main destination for our honeymoon! And even better: we spent the five nights we had there in one of the luxury tepees at A Hog’s Life. Part animal shelter, part self-catering accommodation, this is a haven for both rescue dogs and adventurers. Our tepee was furnished with a comfy king-size bed, a couch and an original Mexican Chiminea that provided an extra romantic atmosphere on the chilly Amathole mountain nights.
Our first day there was super misty (which made everything even more magical!), so we decided to spend some time exploring the village and surrounding attractions. We braved the cold and had a brisk walk around the famous stone labyrinth at The Edge (and found getting soaked-through isn’t that conducive to a mindful experience), visited Crystal Corner, treated ourselves to a hearty lunch at Happy Hogs Restaurant and Village pub, tasted some beers at Hogsback Brewing Company and enjoyed the view from the cliff-edge bath at Away with the Fairies.
Much of the rest of our time in Hogsback was spent on a few of the different forest hiking trails, including the legendary Madonna and Child Falls as well as the Kettlespout Falls and the 39 Steps Falls in the Hogsback Arboretum.
The four days and five nights we spent in Hogsback were total soul food and I’d go back in a heartbeat!
Night 10 & 11: Boutique Vintage Forest Cabin, Stormsriver
After Hogsback, it was time to start making our way back home. But not before ending the trip off with a two-night stay at the exquisite Boutique Vintage Forest Cabin in Stormsriver.
Located in the very heart of the village, the wooden cabin was hand-crafted over a period of two years by our host, Robert. The pride taken in every detail was evident from the start with a classy selection of vintage touches (not least of which the Nestor Martin canon style wood stove) making it feel like we had stepped back to a simpler, better time. We loved the large windows letting ample light in throughout the day and the sense of being tucked away in our own private little forest.
Even though the cabin is located on the same property as Robert and family’s home (as well as another Aribnb cabin and their son’s spectacular treehouse), it’s completely private and surrounded by a lush garden.
Robert was also a truly delightful host who freely shared stories, his knowledge about the area and a range of plant cuttings and slips with us!