You know the feeling – you need a few days away but the budget is tight. If you’re visiting the ‘adventure province’, there are quite a few places where two people can stay without breaking the bank. Find out about some Eastern Cape accommodation that’s budget friendly.
Away with the Fairies, Hogsback
The accommodation is super affordable, and you have the choice of staying in the dormitories, in a private room, or in one of the cottages. There’s also a campsite. The atmosphere is relaxed, with most guests fitting the typical ‘backpacker’ narrative – meaning everyone is friendly and there for a good time.
R600-R900 for 2 people sharing a private room
Bridget Langer, The Wandering Bridge
Elundini Community Lodge, Hogsback
Belgian/Xhosa couple, Lieve and Elliott, have built a great community lodge with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Learn how to bake bread in a traditional Xhosa way, take an isiXhosa language class, enjoy a meal with a local family, visit the ‘shebeen’ and go for wonderful mountain hikes. When we visited in December, we were witness to many celebrations when family from far and wide came to spend time at home.
Elundini Community Lodge offers a few private rondavels and one dorm rondavel. Guests share communal composting toilets that are kept clean. Pre-order delicious meals or cook for yourself in the guests’ kitchen. If you self-cater, it’s best to bring all your goodies with you because you’ll be far from any supermarkets.
R425 for 2 sharing a private room
Jessy Lipperts, Planet Pilgrims
Read more about Elundini and the Wild Coast on Jessy’s blog
Buccaneers Lodge & Backpackers, Wild Coast
A firm favourite along the Wild Coast is Buccaneers Lodge & Backpackers set on the hillside of Cintsa overlooking the river and beach. Go horse riding along the beach (all levels welcome), kayak, surf at some cooking spots along the beach, go quad biking at nearby Arena Game Reserve, do the soup kitchen hike to join the wonderful programme to feed local kids daily, or do yoga on designated mornings.
R420 for 2 people sharing a safari tent
R520 for 2 people sharing a sea-view double cabin
Coffee Shack Backpackers, Coffee Bay, Wild Coast
Hike up the hill for sundowners, catch a surf lesson with Neil, do a guided coastal hike to Hole in the Wall or sunrise yoga. And don’t forget to join one of their legendary pool games. The true beauty of this place lies in your ability to do as little or as much as you wish.
R480 for 2 people sharing a private room
Lauren Manuel McShane, The Travel Manuel
The Shire Eco Lodge, Stutterheim
The lodge takes its name and inspiration from JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth and the hobbits, and its bulb-shaped pod chalets were lovingly hand made by owner Rob Scott and his family. Every detail has been well planned and carefully selected to blend in with the environment – from the distinctively curved wooden beams to colourful hand-made ceramic tiles, custom wooden furniture and fittings. The pièce de résistance is the round glass reading nook where you can lose yourself in a dreamlike cocoon without even having to leave the comfort of your wooden bubble.
The Khologa forest is the prettiest forest we have visited, with diverse foliage, strange fungi and colourful flowers flourishing under a canopy of moss-covered trees. There are some marked hiking trails that you can get to from the lodge. The Shire also has one of the largest wild bulb collections in South Africa, and Rob offers fascinating tours of the nursery.
R795 for 2 people sharing
Sarah Dirsuwei, Chasing the Rainbow
Read more about The Shire on Sarah’s blog
Bergrivier Eco Retreat, Thornhill
The accommodations are rustic perfection within the everyday person’s budget. You can enjoy a night in a rondavel, be different and sleep in an ox wagon, have the comforts of a chalet, or camp out under the skies.
There’s electricity but no wifi and cell reception can be spotty, so pack some games and appreciate time with each other. There are beautiful hikes on the property – a quick one to the waterfall or longer ones around the valleys. While relishing the landscape, have a braai out in the fresh air and sip on South African wine, beer or juice. With few technological distractions, you’ll find time to watch sunrises or sunsets and gaze up at the stars.
Ox wagon R440 for 2 people sharing
Rondavel (pictured above) R700 for 2 people sharing
Cottage R875 for 2 people sharing
Log cabin R1000 for 2 people sharing
Daniel and Jordan, The Timeless Voyagers
Read more about Bergrivier Eco on Daniel and Jordan’s blog
TiPi Bush Camp near Addo Elephant National Park
The tipis at this Addo accommodation are extremely comfortable, with a double bed and a couch that can be separated into two single beds. There’s a central table with chairs, a small gas fridge, a gas two-plate stove, a kettle and enough pots, cutlery and crockery for four people. Each tipi has its own braai area and there’s a bathroom with a solar-powered shower, toilet and basin, housed in a wooden cabin a short walk away. Plus there’s an outdoor shower, along with a swimming pool/jacuzzi. Bedding and towels are provided, so all you need to do is pitch up with your clothes, food, drinks and wood for the braai.
R900 for 2-4 people sharing a tipi (minimum 2 nights, surcharge on single-night bookings)
Rachel Moncrieff-Robinson, The Tipsy Gypsy
Read more about TiPi Bush Camp on Rachel’s blog
Maggie May Houseboat, Colchester near Addo
The rustic houseboat is a stay for travellers looking something different, close to the major attractions of Addo and the Sunshine Coast. There’s a fully equipped kitchen for self catering, including fridge and microwave, and a braai. There’s even a caravan-style loo and shower on board, and larger ablutions on shore.
On-site activities include a river cruise, sand-boarding the Alexandria Dune Field, canoeing, safaris into the national park and the ‘Taste of Africa’ restaurant a 5min walk away. Maggie May is moored at Sundays River Adventures, but the adventurous can pre-arrange a mooring further up or down the river at an extra charge.
R800 for 2 people sharing
Janet Middleton, Key Media and Marketing
The Belfry Kitchen, Twee Riviere, Langkloof
The inflation-free Belfry Kitchen ranks relationship above commerce and since it’s tucked away from the main Langkloof route it’s not stumbled upon often (and never advertised). But the lucky few who do find it often visit again and make a point of staying over in one of the self-catering cottages on the campus. To preserve the element of tranquility, and to be respectful of the campus grounds, there are a few rules to adhere to but if you’re one for peace and quiet it comes as second nature.
The Belfry Kitchen’s cottages are an excellent spot to base yourself to explore the Langkloof, do some gravel travel in the Kouga Mountains, or just sit with a glass of wine and soak in the serene atmosphere on campus.
R598 for 2 people sharing
Anje Rautenbach, Going Somewhere Slowly
Read more about the Langkloof on Anje’s blog
Speekhout tree house, Baviaanskloof
The structure follows the natural line of the branches so it appears to have grown organically. Windows of odd shapes and sizes will remind you of the fairytales of your childhood, and if you’re tall you may need to duck through the doorways.
There are six beds and a star-gazing blind above the double bed in the upstairs bedroom. Electricity powers the lights and the bar fridge and microwave in the small open-plan kitchen. The two-plate cooker and water heater run off gas. A fireplace in the main area is perfect for cold winters. There’s a delightful open-air shower and loo.
Enjoy a braai in the shady garden, go mountain biking in the kloof, walk along a farm trail to a seasonal waterfall, or take a dip in the pool to cool down in the heat of the day.
R900 for 2 people sharing for one night
R860 for 2 people per night if you book two nights
Roxanne Reid, Africa Addict (that’s me!)
Read more about Speekhout tree house on my blog
Lakeview Tented Camp, Camdeboo, Graaff-Reinet
The word Camdeboo is derived from the Khoi language and translates to ‘green pool’. The reserve is home to 43 mammal species, including buffalo.
At the opposite end of the park to the Valley of Desolation lies Lakeview Tented Camp, a self-catering sanctuary of just four privately placed tents - the perfect Karoo accommodation. Each is set up on a deck with a secluded braai and they share central ablutions and a kitchen area.
Lakeview camp is a great balance for those who enjoy the solitude of the bush, but want a base from which to explore the fourth-oldest town in South Africa. Did you know Graaff-Reinet is almost completely surrounded by the national park? Unlike other national parks, the gates close late in the evening so take advantage of this and sneak into Graaff-Reinet for a regte Karoo meal.
R745 for 2 people sharing
Melanie van Zyl, Melanie van Zyl Travel & Adventure
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