Wondering what your Baviaanskloof accommodation options are when you visit this part of South Africa’s Eastern Cape? Would you like to sleep in a cave? Forget notions of dank, dark caves filled with smelly bats and sign up to sleep in the Makkedaat Caves in the Baviaanskloof. If you’re like us, you won’t regret it.
That’s the joy of being at the Makkedaat Caves in the Baviaanskloof, about 50km east of the Karoo town of Willowmore in the Eastern Cape, and west of the Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve.
So Boetie got busy with some rocks and wooden planks, creating a façade to enclose one of them. Beds and kitchen equipment soon followed. With a few hiccups in between while Boetie learnt what would or wouldn’t work, the couple was soon in business. Before long, the cave was proving so sought-after that Boetie went walkabout in search of inspiration for another. And then another…
- From the outside, the eight-sleeper Makkedaat cave, which is squished in below a large rock eyebrow, looks as though it would have made a happy home for Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
- Nearby is the fairly elegant two-tiered Van Terrebert cave that sleeps ten people, testament to Boetie’s engineering skills and boer-maak-’n-plan ingenuity.
- Dawid se Bak sleeps six and even has its own splash pool.
- Alwynbak, which you reach via a 4x4 trail, has been left open to the elements in the east to give an uninterrupted view of mountains, stars and sunrises.
- Dassiebak is a sweet little two-sleeper 'honeymoon' cave (more about that below).
- Swaeltjie Nes is another two-sleeper 'honeymoon' cave.
- Martiens Huis sleeps four to six people and is rather sophisticated, more a house than a cave, with electricity, a full kitchen and an inside braai.
The sun is beating relentlessly against the ‘wall’ of the sitting area, but we soon discover that this wall is actually a roll-up awning that can be raised to let the breeze in. I imagine how someone might have left rock art on the back wall of the cave, although now, all these years later, it’s stained black. A small sign tells us the black stuff is dassie urine, but of course it’s been there so long it no longer smells so I’m quite happy to share digs with it.
Although the armchairs and duvet-covered beds, the gas hotplates and even the hot shower are mod cons that the old hunter-gatherers of yore wouldn’t have known what to do with, some stylish 21st century city folk might find all of this a little too rustic for their taste. But I love it for its very oddness, its unique sense of place that will be hard to forget.
And they can also put you in touch with Hans Jumat, a man with a vast store of knowledge about the area’s plants and their medicinal uses, if that’s what revs your engine. Or you can simply kick back and do nothing but stare at the mountain views.
To find out more about this unusual Baviaanskloof self-catering accommodation, to enquire about rates or make bookings, see www.makkedaat.co.za/index.htm. Just remember that if you want to book accommodation, it’s best to pick up the phone; email in the Baviaanskloof is so unreliable and slow you’d do better to send a pigeon or a runner with a forked stick.
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