If you’re like me, you need a few days away every now and then to stay invigorated and sane. But what happens if the purse strings are tight? Luckily, there’s lots of budget friendly self-catering accommodation in the Western Cape where you can stay without having to hawk your house.
South Africa’s Western Cape is magnificent, a place of vineyards and Winelands, open stretches of Karoo veld with sheep, big skies and a quirky character. It stretches towards the mountains, rivers and oceans of the Overberg where you can find the southernmost point of Africa and landscapes of yellow canola fields. It rumbles part of the way along the scenically striking Garden Route with its forests, lakes and beaches. And don’t forget the West Coast, where the vibe is laidback and the seafood superb.
- I’ve put together a list of 18 self-catering accommodation places in the Western Cape where two people sharing can stay for R1100 – or less – per night.
- All rates I’ve quoted are off-peak prices and don’t reflect peak-season Christmas/New Year increases.
- Note that leisure travel in South Africa has only officially reopened after the Covid-19 lockdown for travel within your own province, but it’s good to dream and plan ahead in any case.
- Please ask about any specials before you book. A number of these Western Cape accommodation places are offering substantial (20-40%) winter and spring discounts on the rates quoted here. These specials may run until September or November in some cases, so do yourself a favour and check.
- There’s a link to an accommodation establishment’s own website at the beginning of each snippet to make booking enquiries easy for you.
- I’ve put an *asterisk next to those places I’ve experienced for myself. The others have all been recommended by friends from their personal experience.
- I’ve listed regions and accommodations alphabetically so I can’t be accused of favouritism!
1. *Eikelaan farm cottages, Tulbagh
There’s a pool for cooling off in summer and a small children’s play area. Go walking through the fynbos, gaze at the stars, cycle along the farm tracks or just relax on your stoep. Take a drive into town to discover all the things to do in Tulbagh.
R950 for 2-4 people sharing
Read more about Eikelaan Farm Cottages
2. Plum Tree Cottage, McGregor
Rise early to listen to the birds, enjoy wine on the stoep as you watch the sunset, or explore to discover the many things to do in McGregor, from hiking to wine tasting, from a country market to driving along the Road to Nowhere.
R860 for 2 people sharing
Other affordable stays in McGregor include Bougainvillea Cottage (R890), Miss Milly Folly (R620) and Ons Huisie (R890).
3. Footprints of Knysna, Knysna
The bigger Heads Up Apartment (pictured), also on the upper level, is decorated in nautical shades of blue and white. Expect wonderful views from huge picture windows in the open-plan living/dining area. The kitchen is fully equipped with stove, microwave and fridge. There’s a separate bedroom with queen-size bed and en suite bathroom with bath and shower. Views of the lagoon from the deck are magical, and there’s a braai to encourage you to make the most of them. Spend time here to watch the Knysna Heads, the first flush of dawn pink or the stars after dark.
R600 for 2 people sharing the Featherbed Studio
R700 for 2 people sharing the Heads Up Apartment
Another place to consider is Forest Edge just outside Knysna, where the standard cottages fit our budget. As its name suggests the cottages are on the edge of the Knysna forest.
4.*Forest Cabin, Wilderness Ebb & Flow
This makes a great base from which to explore the Wilderness lake district, some excellent forest hikes and drives. Don’t miss an early morning walk on Wilderness Beach, which is in spitting distance, or some of the many of other things to do in Wilderness.
R890 for 2 people sharing
Additional R46 per person per night conservation fee (unless you have a Wild Card).
5. *Goukamma Nature Reserve
Goukamma is a perfect place for those who enjoy walking and nature. Knock yourself out on beach, dune and forest trails from 4-15km, and keep your eyes peeled for birds like the brightly coloured Knysna turaco. There’s plenty to do this side of Knysna. Get lulled to sleep by the distant sound of the sea.
R1030 for 2-4 people sharing Otter’s Rest Lodge
R900 for 2 people sharing Fish Eagle Loft
R950 for 2-4 people sharing the cottages
Additional R40 per person per night conservation fee (unless you have a Wild Card).
Read more about Otter’s Rest Lodge
6. *Gamkaberg Nature Reserve
The joy of these tented camps is the environment and the views, the glow of warm rocks as the sun sets, the chance to listen to the dawn chorus as you sip your first cup of coffee. Hike one of the trails, spot animals and birds, go rock climbing at Tierkloof or drive a 4x4 trail.
R650 for 2 people sharing at Fossil Ridge (2 tents), Sweet Thorn (3 tents), Tierkloof (4 tents) and Xami Eco Lodge (1 tent)
Additional R40 per person per night conservation fee (unless you have a Wild Card).
Read more about Fossil Ridge Eco Lodge
7. Karoo Khaya, Prince Albert
There’s something special about Karoo hospitality so sit back and relax, visit the farm animals and orchards, gaze at the stars where the lack of street lights enhances your experience. Despite the quiet at Karoo Khaya, the village buzz is an easy walk away. There are lots of things to do in Prince Albert, two of my favourites being to drive the gravel switchbacks of the Swartberg Pass and visit the Fransie Pienaar museum.
R860 for 2 people sharing
8. *Olive Grove Guest Farm, Beaufort West
Indulge in the classic Karoo activity of stoep-sitting, watch the sunset and admire the views of mountains and veld. Go bird watching, walk one of the trails or bring your mountain bike, take to the dam in a canoe. In olive season (March to July) you may be able to do an olive tour and tasting. Leave the farm to enjoy a day visit to the nearby Karoo National Park or explore some of the other things to do in Beaufort West.
R790 for 2 sharing a room
R970 for 2 sharing a self-catering cottage
9. The Barnacle, Pringle Bay
Go kayaking, hiking and bird-watching to spot the elusive Rooiels rockjumper. Other wildlife that lives in harmony with the residents includes porcupines, genets, duikers, baboons and otters. There are restaurants for days you don’t feel like self-catering, a little village market each weekend. Don’t miss meeting Montana the town sheep or the three alpacas that raise money for the fire station.
R1100 for 2 people sharing
10. *Belfield cottages, Grabouw/Elgin
Go hiking and wine tasting in the area, ask for a tasting of Belfield’s reds. Chat to Mel about the history of the farm and she might even tell you about some of the odd characters (think jailbird and prostitute) they found staying on the farm when they first arrived 20 years ago. There’s a two-bedroomed cottage for families too.
R900-R1000 for 2 people sharing
11. *Black Oystercatcher cottages near Elim
Go wine tasting or beer tasting on the estate, enjoy a meal at its own restaurant, or bring your bike to explore the surrounding Agulhas Plain. L’Agulhas – where you can see the lighthouse and southernmost tip of Africa – is only 43km away. Don’t miss a visit to the historic Moravian village of Elim 10km away
R990 for 2 people sharing
12. Honeyrock Cottages, Kleinmond
Sit on your stoep to admire the Kogelberg mountains, do a short walk through the fynbos, go bird-watching for specials like the orange-breasted sunbird and Cape sugarbird, or take a short drive to the beach. There are lots of things to do in Kleinmond, including hiking in the Kogelberg Nature Reserve, seeing wild horses at Rooisand Nature Reserve, or walking along the cliffs above the rocks and the sea.
R580-R805 for 2 people sharing
13. *Platbos Forest, Gansbaai
Honey Bee and Bushbuck suites are free-standing half-cabin, half-tented rooms with double beds, separate braai areas, showers and toilets (waterless at Honey Bee and flush at Bushbuck). For all units, you make a fire in the donkey boiler (wood supplied) for a hot shower in the partially enclosed ablutions a short walk along a leaf-strewn path from the cabin or suite. Honey Bee has a separate kitchen, while Bushbuck’s kitchen is part of the main unit. Bushbuck also has an indoor fireplace. There’s a mozzie net for summer or you can drop down the canvas blinds along the front when it’s cold.
Each suite stands in a patch of indigenous forest so it’s like having the whole forest to yourself. You’ll be entranced by the shadowy dance of the leaves of white stinkwood trees and the call of birds. If you enjoy nature you’ll love this unusual off-grid experience; if you’re super anxious about the odd creepy crawly, then this nature immersion may not be for you.
Explore the hiking trails or relax in the shady forest (read why Platbos is special here). You may even hear the bark of a bushbuck nearby. There are lots of things to do in Gansbaai 15km away, like whale and shark watching experiences.
R900 for 2 people sharing Old Olive Cabin
R1050 for 2 people sharing Honey Bee Suite or Bushbuck Suite
14. *Robin’s Nest, Hermanus
You’re in walking distance of one of the best wine shops in the country as well as a couple of restaurants. A brewery and two wineries are also in walking distance for tastings, while the riches of the Hemel en Aarde Valley wine farms and restaurants are just a short drive away. There are loads of things to do in Hermanus, like whale watching from June to November.
R750 for 2 people sharing
15. Umshanti, Buffeljags near Swellendam
The Chapel is a romantic honeymoon suite with gorgeous views of the dam and mountains. It has all the facilities of the other two cottages, but with a fully indoor bathroom.
Umshanti is popular with families staying in larger cottages or camping during weekends and peak season. If you prefer your holidays quiet and tranquil, try to go midweek and/or out of school holidays.
Hike to a mountain pool, go swimming, boat cruising, canoeing or take to the skies on a tandem microlight for a bird’s eye view of your surroundings. There are also tons of fun things to do in Swellendam just a short drive away.
R600 for 2 people sharing Gypsy Cottage
R750 for 2 people sharing Gypsy Cottage 2
R950 for 2 people sharing The Chapel
16. *Azzuro, Paternoster
On the cottage’s stoep, where you can sit to watch the world go by, there’s a built-in braai that doubles as a pizza oven, or you can take the Weber braai outside if you prefer. Although there’s no view of the sea from the cottage, you’re just one street away from the beach.
There’s no shortage of things to do in Paternoster, from visiting Cape Columbine lighthouse and nature reserve and sampling a range of good restaurants to long walks on the beach.
R1000-R1100 for 2 people sharing
Read more about Azzuro
17. Enjo Nature Farm, Biedouw Valley
If you love off-the-grid remoteness far from any other humans, choose the Lonely Planet Cottage (pictured). Get to it via a scenic jeep track, so a vehicle with high clearance is best. There’s no electricity, but a fireplace inside and braai outside. There’s a queen-size bed in a separate bedroom, an open-plan living area and kitchenette with solar-heated water, gas fridge and two-plate gas hob.
Take a dip in the natural stone-walled Jacuzzi, enjoy views of the veld and koppies, admire a sky full of stars where there’s almost no light pollution. If you must, you can explore further afield in search of things to do in the Cederberg.
R750 for 2 people sharing Enjo or Oak Chalets
R750 for 2 people sharing Lonely Planet Cottage
18. *Sea Shack, Paternoster
The cabins are close together so are better suited for social types than lone wolves who value their privacy, especially on weekends or in high season. Fall out of bed and on to the beach, watch the sunset over the ocean, drive round Cape Columbine Nature Reserve and to the lighthouse. There’s also much to do in Paternoster just 5km away.
R820 for 2 people sharing (if you stay 2 nights Mon to Thurs it’s R750 per night for 2 people sharing)
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