PAARL might be close to Cape Town but it retains a lovely rural feel.
We stayed in one of the cottages on the farm Oude Denneboom, which produces wine, olive and export citrus, and has the added bonus of being a private game reserve as well.
Owner Niel de Waal is a 12th generation South African whose ancestors were among the original pioneers who arrived in 1652. The 194-hectare farm takes its name from the huge pine tree in front of the homestead.
The two-bedroomed four-star cottage is secluded, tucked several hundred metres away from the farmhouses behind the vineyards and citrus orchards. The original sheep-herder’s shelter, the cottage has thick walls of sun-dried brick, tiled floors, reed ceilings and cottage-style furnishings with old Cape-style doors and shutters.
A welcome pack included the safety dos and don’ts – the farm has a dam where you are welcome to fish and a rowing boat which you are also welcome to use – and a weather report.
The cottage has a main bedroom with a double bed and an unexpectedly large en-suite bathroom with a shower and a bath big enough for two. The second bedroom, on the opposite side of the cottage, has two single beds and its own en-suite shower and toilet. Heaters and firewood are supplied, as are extra blankets but we found the duvets so snug we didn’t use them. Towels, hand towels and facecloths were neatly folded on the beds, the cherry on top a Lindt chocolate and a complimentary bottle of their own red wine.
The cream kitchen with granite counter tops has all the mod-cons apart from a washing machine but as with any hotel, they will take care of your laundry if required.
There is a small swimming pool and umbrella on the stoep outside and air conditioning.
On a stroll around the farm we saw wildebeest, bontebok, zebra, eland, springbok and a Cape fox.
What struck us most was the stillness. The bird life is abundant. At night we heard the soft hooting of the spotted eagle owl which nests right outside the main bedroom. There are myriad stars visible out in the country which we don’t normally see in the city and nipping outside to close the shutters against the icy air, the torch picked up the eyes of an eland standing less than 20m away.
We woke to the sound of hadedas and left in the morning feeling as though we’d been away from home far longer than just one day.