22 pet-friendly breaks for a hound holiday in the Western Cape
Most of us like to travel with our pets, but it’s not always easy to find places that permit our furry friends.
Having a dog of my own that loves to take me on adventures, I set about scouring the country for pet-friendly spaces. These reviewed options come with my dog’s full stamp of approval! Here are 22 tried and tested pet-friendly accommodation options that I can recommend in the Western Cape.
BREEDE RIVER VALLEY PET-FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATION
1. Ons Huisie, McGregor
Ons Huisie is a typical whitewashed McGregor cottage with reed ceilings and bright modern furnishings. Sit outside and enjoy sundowners in the beautiful water-wise garden or have a braai under the stars. The view out the back over open spaces is spectacular, giving you the feeling that you really are out in the country. You’ll find everything you need for a comfortable self-catering stay, including a microwave and stove, crockery and cutlery. The double bedroom has an en-suite shower, while upstairs has a loft-style twin bedroom – the stairs are quite steep though, so keep an eye on small children. It’s great for dogs as the interior is tiled and the property is fenced. They’ll also love snooping through the garden! Pets are welcome, but prior arrangement is required.
2. Rainbow Glen, Montagu
What could be better than well-equipped self-catering cottages at a friendly, family-run establishment that loves dogs and children? There are various types of accommodation available here. All chalets and cottages have their own bathrooms with a shower, a well-equipped kitchenette and braai area, along with all linen and bath towels provided. Have a braai, enjoy the pool on hot summer days and let dogs– and kids – play on the spacious lawn. Rainbow Glen is close to restaurants and shops and there are many hiking trails to enjoy as well as rock climbing. Kids will love feeding the resident chickens and rabbits. As Rainbow Glen can sleep up to 29 people in total, it’s ideal for events such as birthday parties and weddings.
3. Bordeaux River Cottages, Bonnievale
While the Breede River may not lap right up against your log cabin on this working farm, it’s close enough to still hear it in the still of the night and makes for a fun weekend of canoeing (canoes and oars provided), splashing and swimming. Or just gaze out over it from your deck in the morning with a cup of coffee in hand. All three cabins (aptly named Shiraz, Chardonnay and Merlot) are similar in setting and whilst simple, you’ll find everything you need. Each has two double bedrooms with two single beds in the lounge, making them perfect for families. While the kitchenette is well equipped, the countryside is best enjoyed outdoors; the stone braai (first bag of wood supplied) begs for evenings around a fire. Eating out is also an option with Bonnievale just a short drive away, but I suggest stocking up with plenty of wine and cheese from the farms in the area and have your cheese and wine evening under the stars or indoors around the fire.
GARDEN ROUTE PET-FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATION
4. Lazy Leopard Forest Retreat, Knysna
Lazy Leopard along the Rheenendal Ramble is a wonderful retreat from the world, yet close enough to all the major attractions of the Garden Route. There are three self-catering cottages set against the background of the Outeniqua Mountains overlooking the Knysna forest and there is nothing but nature all around you. While you are there you can use the swimming pool, go canoeing on the river, hike through the forest or simply lie in a hammock with a book or do some birdwatching. If you are in Blue Hills, I can highly recommend the outdoor shower with a view on the verandah! Bear in mind that there are no fences and monkeys, porcupines and small buck are encouraged to come onto the premises. So keep Fido in check.
5. Elalini Backpackers, Buffelsbaai
Not many people are aware of the road that leads to Buffelsbaai and the Goukamma Nature Reserve between Sedgefield and Knysna, but once you discover it, you’ll never want to leave! Elalani is the perfect tranquil and friendly spot to stay while exploring the area. The backpackers is right on the old railway track with the buildings being the original Goukamma Station and railway staff homes. Whilst the train doesn’t run through here anymore (although, there are rumours that it may be resurrected), the railroad is still there and you are very likely to find their chickens on the tracks instead! Accommodation is in five houses (set in a circle) and varies from dorm rooms to double rooms to family rooms and you are also welcome to bring your tent. Breakfast is included in your rate at their restaurant, “Flippin’ Knys”, where the meals are extremely affordable – their pancakes are famous throughout the Garden Route. The cheerful entertainment deck is the perfect place to have a sundowner or a siesta and they regularly host braais and live bands here.
KAROO PET-FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATION
6. Numbi Valley Permaculture Farm, De Rust
At Numbi Valley, you may only be 42km out of Oudtshoorn, but you’ll feel as if you are miles away from anywhere! The cottage was originally a crumbling farm labourer’s home that has been restored into a cosy and slightly quirky spot. The views over the valley and the Swartberg Mountains are breath-taking, especially first thing in the morning and early evening. The bathroom has a solar-powered geyser (everything on the farm is actually solar-powered, including the wifi), but if it’s a dull day, there’s no need to panic about cold water as there’s also a donkey-boiler and it works very well. If you stay during the summer months, enjoy a dip in the plunge pool, which also shares the fantastic view, or soak in an outdoor fire bath in herb-infused waters under the Karoo night sky. If you like pizza, don’t miss the opportunity to make your own in the unique cob pizza oven or ask the owners to make one for you. They also have a wonderfully abundant organic garden and orchard, chickens, and an organic olive orchard. Order a basket of freshly picked vegetables, eggs, fruit, raw honey and olive oil to prepare meals with during your stay. Dogs will love snooping about and exploring, but don’t let them destroy the vegetable garden or chase the chickens.
7. Aloe Cottage, Prince Albert
This rustic self-catering cottage has a wonderful arty Karoo feel, complete with interesting décor touches (including a braai made out of an old milk urn) and the “Mad Max” watchtower in the front of the cottage that just begs to be climbed! It’s small, but perfect for solo travellers, couples, or a family with one child as there is also a single bed. The kitchen is well equipped with the basics for self-catering and there’s also a flatscreen TV with Netflix. I loved my “princess bed” with it’s pretty linen and mosquito net! They are pet-friendly for small dogs by arrangement, but be aware that there are no fences around the cottage and there will be plenty of interesting smells and spaces that your dog will want to explore.
OVERBERG PET-FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATION
8. The Stanford Old Mill, Stanford
There’s a piece of paradise along a short dirt road in Stanford that will have you wanting to stay longer than originally planned! The Old Mill was built in the 1800s and served Stanford as the local mill and in 2015 it was lovingly restored by Barry and Adrienne Jones, resulting in a cosy self-catering cottage. There’s a double bedroom with a separate bathroom and two single beds in the upstairs loft with an en-suite bathroom. The plush leather couches beg you to get comfy while watching TV or reading a book, but if the weather’s good there’s a deck at the back with a Weber and large table for evening braai. The kitchen is fully equipped along with all linen and towels being provided and there’s also plenty of cupboard space (good for those long stays!) The owners are avid gardeners and you’ll find grapevines, herbs, granadillas, bananas, mangoes, figs and pomegranates all cleverly interspersed with lavender bushes, birdbaths, butterfly bushes and a lovely indigenous section which encourages the local birdlife. Expect to fall asleep to the sound of clicking stream frogs and awake to buzzing bees in the butterfly bushes! Expect a visit from Pippin and Boo, the resident Border Terriers. Stanford is also a wonderful village for taking your dog for a walk.
9. Babylons Tower Cottage, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley
This cottage, on an apple farm next door to Ataraxia on the Hemel-En-Aarde wine route, feels completely tucked away from the world, surrounded by mountains and apple trees., making it the perfect getaway for a group of friends or a small family. The stoep has views over the Hemel-En-Aarde Valley, looking down over Creation (the wine farm, although you do look over creation as a whole!) and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a spot with a better view! There’s a large built-in braai on the stoep so you can grill up some steak and wors while enjoying the night sounds in your own private amphitheatre, but if it’s not braai weather there is a gas stove and an indoor fireplace to keep you warm. There are two double bedrooms, one with an additional single bed and both have en-suite bathrooms. Whilst crockery, cutlery, linen and towels are supplied, you will need to bring everything else with you. There is no microwave and there are also limited plug sockets that are connected to an inverter, so you can only charge small items like your phone and laptop. Grab some wine from one of the wine farms along the way and settle down for relaxed days and quiet nights. Don’t forget your shower cap for the fun outdoor shower! Dogs will love the green lawn to run on, along with going on walks through the orchards.
10. Oewerzicht, Greyton
I have stayed at Oewerzicht on numerous occasions over the years and I cannot recommend it enough. There are various self-catering cottages with everything you need, kitted out safari tents with a communal kitchen and grassed campsites with power-points, braai facilities and modern ablution blocks. There are hiking trails and the farm is also ideal for mountain biking with a challenging 25km trail. You can take a short drive into Greyton and visit the market on Saturdays or simply relax and enjoy the mountain views. The more energetic can spend their days swimming, tubing, canoeing or fishing, while the large grassy areas are wonderful for kids and dogs to run around on. It is the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion with friends (book the whole place out!) or to have a romantic escape with your loved one. It is a working sheep farm, so dogs are to be on leads at all times with dog owners being held liable for any damage done to farm animals.
11. River Magic Cottages, Vermaaklikheid
Whilst I haven’t been back here for some time, this is still a place I talk about and recommend often! Here you really get to escape the city with your loved ones and your dog to enjoy the simple life of swimming, canoeing and fishing in the Duiwenhoks River. All accommodation options have their own charm and are pet-friendly, but I recommend Glory Be as the perfect hideaway. You get ferried across the river to your cottage, leaving your car, cellphone and cares behind! Glory Be sleeps twelve with two double bedrooms, one twin-bedded room and two three-bed rooms. The outside braai area has amazing views overlooking the river and you have the use of a canoe and rowboat onto which you may attach your own small outboard engine. You will be dragging your heels when the ferry comes to collect you at the end of your stay.
12. Tangleberry Cottage, Elgin Valley
Food lovers unite! Whether you love cooking or prefer gathering, this renovated labourer’s cottage beside a dam in the Elgin Valley is perfect for a few days of foodie bliss. The kitchen with its gas stove and oven, dishwasher and double sink is kitted out with every kind of gadget, roasting pan, casserole dish, spatula and spoon. There’s a bread-maker, food processors, food slicers and dicers, clay pots, steamers, coffee makers and even aprons, foil and wax wrap. Not to mention the array of jars holding an assortment of spices – caraway, smoked Spanish paprika, fenugreek, cumin, sage, cardamom and juniper berries to name a few. To add to your culinary experience, you get to pick whatever is in season from the garden – and what a veritable Garden of Eden it is (yes there are apples!) While I was there, I filled my basket with kale, tomatoes, spring onions, lettuce, spinach, pak choi, soup celery, gooseberries and the biggest cucumbers I have ever set eyes on. There are also fig trees, lime trees, apple trees, olive trees, plum trees and pomegranate bushes, along with almost every kind of herb imaginable growing in a myriad of pots lining the stoep. But you don’t only have to be a foodie to enjoy a stay here. There’s two luxurious bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, a large stoep overlooking the dam to enjoy sundowners on as well as a large built-in braai and outdoor pizza oven for fun evenings under starry skies. If it’s a little chilly you can get comfortable on plush leather couches with soft blankets beside a roaring fire with a potjie bubbling in the corner. No expense has been spared in making sure that your getaway is an indulgent one, whether you are cooking up a storm or playing a board game beside the fireplace. Make sure you listen out for the Cape Ghost Frog and keep an eye on the dam for in the evening for the African Clawless Otter! You are also close enough to all that the Elgin Valley has to offer if you fancy exploring the area. Small dogs will love running on the lawn and snooping by the dam, but be aware that the cottage is next to a farm road and there are no fences.
13. Sugarbird House, Pringle Bay
At Sugarbird all you will hear and smell is the ocean. You cannot see it, but you know it’s there! Sleeping six people in three bedrooms (there’s also a sleeper couch which is perfect for two children) with loads of outside space in a pretty indigenous garden, it makes for a good group getaway. The house is a double-story with the upstairs section being self-contained with its own mini kitchen and bathroom. There’s a braai area outside and ample seating both on the balcony and on the stoep. All linen, crockery and cutlery is provided, along with small jars of tea and coffee. There’s also a games room with various games available, along with a dart board (darts provided) and table football (when last did you see one of those!) There are also baboons in the area, although seldom in the cul-de-sac where the guesthouse is situated.
14. Linquenda Chambre d’Hote B&B, Villiersdorp
The first thing that struck me about Linquenda Chambre d’Hote B&B was the magnificent stoep that wraps around the house sporting a wonderful view over the mountains. Built in 1925, the house is one of the oldest in town and apart from the fabulous stoep, boasts beautifully restored wooden floors and ceilings, along with a rambling garden. Entrance to the room is off the stoep and has its own bathroom with a Victorian bath, along with a small fridge and coffee-making facilities. If you want to cook a meal you’re welcome to use the kitchen in the main house, but as the owners, Andre and Emily Moya, are both chefs, I recommend you ask them to cook for you! Breakfast is included in the tariff, the eggs courtesy of the chickens that you’ll find scratching on the lawn outside.
15. The Suntouched Inn, Napier
When you arrive at this backpacker-style spot in Napier, you feel as if you’ve arrived at a good friend’s house where the atmosphere is warm, comfortable and casual. The pizzas are to die for and the bar is a well-known spot for a good party with the locals. There are various accommodation options available including three double rooms that share a lounge area upstairs in the main building. The Garden Cottage has two single beds sporting bright and cheerful linen and an en-suite bathroom, while The Barn has a double bedroom, a loft bedroom and two single daybeds with a large lounge and fully equipped kitchen. Both these cottages have fantastic views over the valley, especially when the canola fields are in flower. The restaurant and pub serve breakfasts, pizzas and light meals and there are braai areas available for your use. You can also take a dip in the swimming pool or take on the locals at a game of pool.
16. Le Bay Lodge, Gordon’s Bay
Le Bay Lodge and Restaurant re-opened in January this year, with the Sunday Carvery having re-launched at the beginning of March. It’s close to the beach, has excellent drinks prices and tasty food, along with affordable accommodation and a fun crew. The rooms are simply decorated, but large and airy with an en-suite bathroom, a bar fridge and tea and coffee-making facilities. They serve breakfasts (included in your overnight stay), have a braai on Fridays and on Sundays you can tuck into a carvery spread, including three roasts, Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, vegetables and dessert. Don’t be put off by the giant “no dogs” sign on the door to the entrance of the restaurant. This is because of health laws and the kitchen is next door to the main restaurant.
WEST COAST PET-FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATION
17. !khwa ttu on the R27
It’s hard to believe that a place like !khwa ttu is pet-friendly, especially considering that there is a fair amount of game (including eland, zebra, bontebok and ostriches) roaming around! But they welcome well-behaved dogs in all of their accommodation options as well as being allowed to take them (on leashes) on walks, cycle trails and even the restaurant (seated outdoors). However, as there is wildlife (including snakes) you will need to keep a close eye on your dog. I stayed in the Bush Lodge on the other side of the road from the main complex and loved the feeling of being alone in the bush with only the stars and my dog for company. The Bush Lodge sleeps four people in two bedrooms and comes with fine linen and giant beds! Having a braai in the lapa area is the perfect way to spend the evening, but a two-plate stove and microwave are also available. The best part is the outdoor showers and outdoor bath (there is also one indoors) and if you are lucky the resident duiker may come to visit while you are in the shower. There are other accommodation options available from safari tents to cottages which cater for different budgets, but they all include a delicious breakfast, from scrambled eggs with smoked salmon to an English-style breakfast with Eland sausages. You may need to work it off with a hike or a bike ride!
18. Grace’s Getaway, Yzerfontein
When I arrived the sun was setting and whilst I gawped at the incredible view over the Yzerfontein coastline, tiny bats swooped above my head. I fell asleep to the sound of pounding waves and awoke to an ocean vista like no other with the smell of the sea welcoming me to a new day on the West Coast. Having just arrived from the city, it was bliss! The accommodation is simple but clean and comfortable with everything you need, including a stove, oven and microwave, along with cutlery and crockery. If the weather is fine and the wind isn’t blowing, spend the evening enjoying a braai with a view from their built-in braai. There’s also a flat-screen TV with DSTV channels so you can indulge in watching TV from your bed. A perfect little base from which to explore the town and would be most suitable for a couple with a small dog. The outside area is compact and there are no gates or fences, so keep an eye on your dog as it will go snooping! Tip: The flat is quite private, so you can sleep with the blinds drawn back – it makes for a wonderful view in the morning.
19. Slip Slops, Paternoster
A relaxed and comfortable self-catering spot within walking distance from the beach, shops and restaurants in this popular seaside town. Park your car in the secure off-road parking, don your slip slops and relax! There’s an indoor and outdoor braai area so you can braai whatever the weather and a small splash pool for those hot summer days. Sleeping six people in three double rooms (two are upstairs) it’s been well designed and set up for big groups. There’s a large lounge with a fireplace, a well-equipped cheerful kitchen and an indoor entertainment area with a built-in braai. The courtyard outside is perfect for sundowners or an evening under the stars. As the courtyard has a high wall, dogs will be safe and unable to escape onto the street.
20. Heron’s Rest, Velddrif
This haven in the sleepy town of Velddrif is perfect for a group of people as it sleeps twelve in total, with four in a separate self-contained cottage. All rooms have their own bathrooms and you are supplied with the most luxurious towels I have ever experienced! The rooms also have their own flat-screen TVs with DSTV when you need time to yourself, but if you are feeling sociable then there’s a wonderful stoep with plenty of chairs and tables, and an entertainment room (separate from the main house) with a bar area, indoor braai and a swimming pool. The décor is eclectic and fun, including rather unusual chandeliers! Then there’s the carefully tended indigenous garden overlooked by a giant pecan nut tree (if you go there in season you may get to pick up a few) with resident tortoises that have been spared certain death on the West Coast roads. Outdoors is where you really want to be here – enjoy a cup of coffee in one of their giant tin mugs while watching the abundant birdlife in the morning, then sip on a glass of wine while taking in the magnificent starry sky at night! While Heron’s Rest is the perfect place to hire out for a special occasion, or with a group of friends, if there’s just two of you, you are welcome to book one of the rooms and enjoy a breakfast made especially for you in the morning (included in the rate). Small dogs are welcome by prior arrangement, but be aware that the (friendly) sheepdog from next door likes to visit too.
21. Vensterklip, Elands Bay
When you find chickens roosting at reception, you know you’ve found a true farm. Along with being a working farm, Vensterklip has almost every kind of accommodation available, with the camping area and two cottages across the road being pet-friendly options for well-behaved small dogs (who won’t eat the chickens!). Whilst each camping spot is separated by stick fence making them fairly private (they also each have their own built-in braai and ablutions) the camping area is fairly open so you will need to watch that your dogs don’t make a nuisance of themselves to other campers. The two pet-friendly houses are across a fairly busy road, so you will need to keep an eye out there too. Ventersklip has everything you could need, including a restaurant with well-priced and very ample meals, a bar and a quirky farm stall. But if you prefer to cook or braai for yourself, they have all those facilities too. If you are travelling with people who don’t have dogs, they have the option of staying in the more upmarket self-catering rooms. Vensterklip is a good spot to go away with a large group of people with different budgets and needs. While you are there why not take a hike to see the “stone window” that the farm is named after.
22. Beaverlac, Porterville
One of my favourite campsites and mostly because I can take my dog too. The campsites are well-maintained and under trees, so you can keep fairly cool in summer. Whilst there is no electricity at the campsites, with a little preparation beforehand, you’ll soon settle into life with no lights or boiling kettles. Or get some members of your group to book a cottage and then you can use their plug points if you are lost without electricity. The shop is very well-stocked and well-priced, including tins of dog food and a selection of cold beers in the event you run out. It is on a cash-only basis though, so don’t forget to draw money before you arrive. The rock pools are beautiful (and very welcome in summer) and generally easy to walk to, plus there are hiking trails (2km to 5km in length) and you are welcome to bring your bike if you fancy some offroad cycling. If you like fishing, you can fish for bass in the Olifants River. Dogs will love joining you on walks and at the numerous natural rock pools. However, bear in mind, this area gets very hot in the summer months.