The self-catering cabins in the Kogelberg Nature Reserve, set in the rugged Hottentots Holland Mountains in the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom, are popular for their spectacular location in unspoiled nature and great views.
The Mbali collection consists of eight glass-fronted cabins – five two-sleeper cabins and three six-sleepers. Two of the six highly popular Oudebosch eco-cabins (also glass-fronted) are wheelchair-friendly. Five of them sleep four people each. The sixth is the well-appointed Palmiet Honeymoon Suite, often booked months in advance.
If you’re looking for total peace and quiet, consider the Anysberg Nature Reserve in the Klein Karoo (there’s no cellphone reception on the reserve, but Wi-Fi is available at the office complex and cottages.) The four wendy houses (each sleeping two people) at Tapfontein are only accessible via 4x4, bicycle or hiking. There are also five other cottages available in the reserve, sleeping from two to six, all with solar-powered geysers, gas and outdoor braais.
Famous Algeria in the Cederberg Wilderness Area offers seven modern, well-appointed, two-bedroom cottages: Waterfall, Wolfberg Arch, Maltese Cross, Cedar, Klipspringer, Grey Rhebok and Garskraal. The eighth, Rietdak, is a charming stone cottage, with one double bedroom.
Also in the Cederberg is Kliphuis, situated on the flower route to the Biedouw valley and Wupperthal, with three refurbished chalets – Rhino Boulder, Cedar Rouge and Leopard Cave – against the backdrop of the Rocklands bouldering site. Each chalet has three bedrooms, sleeping between six and eight.
There are also five cottages with solar lights, and a gas geyser, fridge and stove, at the Bosherberge, about 4km east from Algeria at the base of Uitkyk pass. The cottages are named Uitkyk, Waenhuis, Prik se Werf, Sas se Werf and Peerboom.
The Goukamma Nature Reserve and marine protected area on the Garden Route between Sedgefield and Knysna offers a number of self-catering accommodation options, including three charming self-catering chalets – Kabeljou, Blacktail and Stumpnose Chalet – with solar power overlook the river. Each has two bedrooms.
Otters Rest Lodge overlooks the ocean and river, sleeping four in two rooms; and Fish Eagle Loft is a duplex unit on its top floor, sleeping two and boasting fantastic sea and river views. Mvubu Bush Lodge is an elevated, wood-and-thatch self-catering cottage in milkwood forest, sleeping four.
Opened in 2016, Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve in the Langeberg has 11 family/hiker cabins set on a ridge, with forest on either side. The cabins are arranged in two rows, with the top row having extensive valley views and the bottom row looking out on to indigenous forest. The site used to accommodate forestry staff, and the cabins were built using reclaimed materials where possible, with a low impact on the area.
Another option here is Scolopia, a wooden house that sleeps six guests in two bedrooms and on a double sleeper couch in the lounge. It is set on the edge of indigenous forest, near the start of a day hike.
Hidden away in the mountains between Swellendam, Ashton, Barrydale and Suurbraak lies Marloth Nature Reserve. Choose between Suikerbekkie cottage, housing a maximum of four people in two bedrooms, or the fully equipped, three-bedroom Bushbuck Cottage, sleeping six.
The Swartberg Nature Reserve, a World Heritage Site, includes the settlement of Gamkaskloof, a cultural heritage site also known as Die Hel. Swartberg Nature Reserve lies in the district of Oudtshoorn, between the Great and Little Karoo.
The reserve offers a wide range of accommodation, including the Andries Marais House (sleeping five in four bedrooms); the Willem Marais Cottage (sleeping two); the wheelchair-friendly Stappies Cordier House (sleeping two); the Marais Cordier Cottage (sleeping up to six); and the Bush Shelter, rustic accommodation with dormitory-style sleeping quarters that houses up to 12 people.
Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve in the Breede River valley lies about 15km south of Robertson on the road to McGregor. If you’re a big group, you’re spoilt for accommodation choices here. Newly renovated Ichelesi, Luiperd and Rooikat cottages, as well as Bakoorvos and Silwervos, all accommodate up to eight people each.