Somerset Gift, Beauty that Soothes Your Soul
When we arrived at Somerset Gift on Thursday evening, we were greeted with a valley that was every bit as beautiful as I remembered it. Only once before did we drive up the dirt road that winds its way past fields and dams, deeper into the valley where the guest farm finds itself. I remember thinking that it must be a real treat to stay at one of the white cottages overlooking lush green pastures and a bubbling brook against a majestic green mountain backdrop. Naturally, I was really excited in anticipation of spending three days in the calm freedom offered by this beautiful getaway farm in Swellendam.
We arrived close to dark on a sunny Thursday evening, unpacked, and started a fire. Cooking on an open fire is such a primal activity, it always makes me feel like I am more part of the natural world when doing it. As the night air began to show its winter bite, we moved the kids and the fire indoors. For a moment or two we thought we might have turned the 2 bedroom cottage into a smoker, but soon the fire crackled in the hearth, and the cozy room cleared of smoke, and heated up nicely.
In the early hours of Friday morning the roof of the cottage shuddered, the wind starting blowing with a ferocious intensity.
Any intentions of taking pretty pictures and leisurely hikes to the amazing waterfall was blown right out of the frame. While we adults shut ourselves indoors, hiding from the elements, the kids were shrieking outside, overjoyed that the wind is strong enough to push them on the swings. The manager, also named Tanya, inspired them to tie strings to shopping bags and so they flew their makeshift kites with no trouble at all. Running up and down with the wind in their faces led to explosions of happiness and shrieks of glee.
There were other children at the farm, and without any encouragement the children introduced themselves to each other and soon they were feeding the horses and telling each other stories of people they know back home and where they come from.
The sun set, but the wind did not let up, and so I spent the night tossing and turning, hoping that Saturday would bring with it a peaceful day.
“Why is the wind so disobedient,daddy?”
After a fitful night of praying for the wind to calm down, I for one could share my daughter’s sentiment. If the wind kept ripping up the valley the way it had the preceding 24 hours, we would have very little to show for our 3-day visit, and the weather forecast was not favourable. All we could do now was pray, petition and hope for a miracle.
Come breakfast the storm was still howling, but by 10:00 a calm settled over the valley. At first, I almost felt afraid to say something, but the calm held. The day heated up, and we were treated to a summer’s day in the middle of winter. We received the miracle we petitioned for. It was perfect, we headed out to the dam to try out the zipline over the water. The children frolicked in the ice-cold water, running up the hill, again and again, to zip and splash down at the other end of the dam. They played on inner tubes and canoes. I realized that children really have an amazing ability to enjoy nature in all its forms and moods.
We ended our day making a bonfire in the fire pit just outside your cottage, cooking boerewors rolls, and sipping a glass of red wine while we still had some. The perfect end to a perfect day.
What the kids loved:
- Swimming in the springwater lake on your doorstep, in the river, or in one of the many mountain pools
- Zipline into the dam
- Canoeing on the 800m lake (canoes available free of charge)
- Fishing in the kiddies dam
- Kiddies playground with jungle gym, trampoline, swings, and mini zipline
- Horseback riding (additional fee, enquire when booking)
- Homeschool space- we had a table on the stoep as well as in the kitchenette
What we as parents loved:
- Remote work- we topped up the internet available on the farm and were able to do zoom calls on a private desk in the main bedroom, with no interruptions
- Glorious walks through indigenous forest to the waterfall and deep mountain pools
- Bass fishing in the lake and river
- Bird watching, including King Fisher, Fish Eagle, Paradise Flycatcher, and many more.
- Mountain biking trails
- Sunset cruises on the pristine Buffeljags Dam (additional fee, enquire when booking)
Somerset Gift takes the health and safety of their guests very seriously, especially in the current time where many people are under unusual levels of stress. Thus they ensure that every cottage is properly disinfected after guests depart and before arrival. They provide sanitiser. The staff wear masks and gloves during this cleaning and disinfection procedure, and you can contact the manager, Tanya via Whatsapp to avoid face to face contact.
To book your spot visit: Somerset Gift Getaway Farm Swellendam
They currently have an amazing 50% discount for a 4 or more night stay. Please contact them for terms conditions.
**For an update on travel regulations and documentation needed, see the latest Government Gazette