A Piketberg mountain retreat

Winona Griggs

A Piketberg Mountain Retreat: A Nature Lover’s Paradise

Hey there, nature enthusiasts! Looking for the perfect getaway? Well, look no further than Piketberg Mountain Retreat – an absolute haven for those of us who simply can’t resist the allure of the great outdoors.

Here at Piketberg, everything you need to unwind and connect with nature is at your fingertips. Whether you’re passionate about hiking, birdwatching, or simply basking in the serenity of the mountains, this retreat has got you covered.

Picture this: strolling along breathtaking trails, surrounded by majestic trees and vibrant wildlife. It’s a paradise for the senses, a place where time seems to stand still and worries vanish with each step you take.

But the beauty of Piketberg Mountain Retreat goes beyond its awe-inspiring landscapes. It’s about more than just escaping the chaos of everyday life – it’s about rediscovering yourself and experiencing the world in a whole new way.

And as you explore this sanctuary, you’ll also have the chance to learn about the fascinating ecosystems that call Piketberg home. From the flora that blankets the mountainside to the curious critters that scurry beneath your feet, the natural world here is bursting with wonders waiting to be discovered.

Speaking of wonders, keep your camera close by, because Piketberg is a photographer’s dream come true. With every glance, you’ll find yourself captivated by the play of light and shadow, the vibrant colors that dance across the landscape, and the elusive creatures that peek out from their hidden nooks.

But let’s not forget the peaceful nights spent under a blanket of stars. Imagine gazing up at the infinite expanse above, feeling a sense of awe and wonder wash over you as you ponder the mysteries of the universe.

So, if you’re ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure, Piketberg Mountain Retreat is the place for you. Pack your bags, leave your worries behind, and let nature embrace you in its loving embrace. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

A Piketberg mountain retreat

Piketberg mountain looms over the eastern side of the town of Piketberg, standing tall and isolated. It’s like an island, surrounded by Aurora to the west and Redelinghuys to the north.

The mountain and the town are closely connected, as if they are lifelong friends. The town is mainly characterized by the impressive neo-gothic Dutch Reformed Church, which was constructed in 1880 at the highest point of Kerk/Church Street. From there, you can see the vast farmlands that stretch out in every direction.

A Piketberg mountain retreat

Here is where you’ll find Piketberg’s historical heart. And this is what we’ve come to explore, taking the N7 from Cape Town. The smaller roads always lead to the best places.

This church was designed by architect Carl Otto Hager and made of Table Mountain sandstone. Back then, it cost a whopping £7,500 – equivalent to R15,000 today – to build, replacing the original thatched-roof church from 1836.

The pulpit is truly impressive, carved from wood imported from India, along with yellowwood and Oregon pine. It’s still an active church, where the townspeople gather for worship every Sunday.

A Piketberg mountain retreat

Let me tell you a bit about Piketberg. It was founded back in 1835, but the region has a much longer history. Before the town was established, there were already people living here.

The original name of the town, Piquetberg, comes from the CochoQua, a Khoi-Khoi clan who controlled the mountain stronghold in this area. The word “picket” is actually Dutch for an outpost, as the mountain served as a border between the colony and the Khoi-Khoi lands.

However, the Khoi-Khoi were not the first inhabitants. To find the very first people, we have to go back at least 250,000 years to the Middle Stone Age. The museum in town has a fascinating display of stone tools that were used by our predecessors and have been found in this area.

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Let’s explore the historical route

First, I start my day by visiting the church. It’s always a peaceful and serene place to gather my thoughts. Afterward, I head over to Berg Coffee, a cozy café located in the historic No 5 Church Street. They serve some of the best coffee and delicious slices of cake. It’s the perfect spot to recharge before continuing my walking tour of the town.

Right next to the café stands an impressive inn from the Victorian era. It was originally built in 1895 as the Commercial Hotel and has now been beautifully painted in a deep brown color with intricate broekie lace details. Although it’s no longer open, I can’t help but imagine the lively atmosphere it must have had in its heyday.

As I stroll along the wide and clean streets, I can’t help but let my mind wander back in time. I imagine the elegant ladies and gentlemen, the clip-clop of horses’ hooves, and the faint melody of a honky-tonk piano in the distance.

The historical route includes 12 stops, all conveniently located within walking distance of each other. However, I must warn you that there are a few uphill sections that require a bit of effort. So be prepared to give your legs a workout as you explore the fascinating history of this town.

As I take a leisurely stroll down Hoof/Main Street, I come across a charming police station that was built way back in 1926. Its unique Cape Dutch style architecture catches my eye, and I can’t help but appreciate the historical significance it holds. Nowadays, this building serves as the magistrate’s court.

Right across the street from the courthouse is the Sheriff’s Office. It’s strategically located here to ensure efficient and prompt communication between the office and the court. This setup allows for swift delivery of any important messages regarding ongoing court proceedings or the appearance of prisoners for various transgressions.

Continuing on my journey, I reach a particularly captivating spot at the top of the town. It’s the Piquet Hill and Coach House, which unfortunately is a private residence. I find myself lost in reverie as I gaze at it from the outside, imagining the stories and history that lie within its walls.

Descending the hill again, my next stop is the Piketberg Museum. Stepping through its doors feels like stepping into a time machine. Suddenly, I am transported back to the early days of this enclave. The museum is elegantly set up to resemble a traditional house, complete with a cozy sitting room, a welcoming dining room, and a rustic kitchen.

As I explore each room, I come across fascinating artifacts and relics that give me a glimpse into the past. I’m especially intrigued by the butter churn and water tank in the kitchen. Back in those days, having such a convenient and modern plumbing system was a luxury only the wealthiest could afford. Most people had to go outside to fetch their water.

The Piketberg Museum is a true treasure trove of history, providing valuable insights into the early days of this community. It gives me a deeper appreciation for the heritage and traditions that have shaped this place into what it is today.

When you step inside, you’ll find a treasure trove of nostalgia. Old photographs and back issues of Huisgenoot dating back to 1926 transport you to another time. Typewriters, spectacles, and even a baby’s crib are scattered about, further enhancing the illusion.

A Piketberg mountain retreat

Ahh, the old graveyard… a place where the town’s finest citizens rest in eternal slumber, their tombstones marking the passage of time.

The synagogue

But if you want to truly unearth the rich history of this place, the synagogue is where you need to be. Once upon a time, this town was home to 30 Jewish families who sought refuge here after the Turkish war in 1877. They hailed from Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, seeking solace in a new land. Primarily traders and merchants, they worked hard to build prosperous lives in this community. Sadly, over time, all the members of the Jewish community gradually migrated to other parts of the world, leaving Piketberg behind in 1945.

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This remarkable square building, once boasting a beige coat, has now been embraced by the relentless Piketberg sun, turning its walls a soft shade of pink. Surprisingly, it somehow feels just right.

Let me tell you a fascinating story about this town and the land around it – it’s all about farming! The soil is rich and perfect for growing wheat and canola.

A town with two faces

If you venture up the amazing Versveldpas to Piket-Bo-Berg, you’ll experience a whole different world. The locals will tell you the same. It’s a magical place where the land is fertile and the temperatures are cooler, making it ideal for growing flowers, fruits, nuts, and rooibos tea. The orchards are scattered with beautiful fynbos flowers, filling the air with their sweet scent. Spring is the perfect time to visit, with all the trees in full bloom. You’ll find apples, pears, persimmons, plums, peaches, and quince waiting for you to enjoy.

And oh, the views from up there! You’ll be blown away by the sight of majestic Table Mountain in the distance and the sparkling St Helena Bay under the warm sun.

Wow! This pass is something else! It’s so narrow and twisty, filled with exciting switchbacks, and the views are absolutely breathtaking. I read this awesome book called Mountain Passes South Africa that talks about a guy named John Versfeld who built the original pass in just three months with the help of 16 farm workers. Can you believe that? The road we drive on now was actually finished in 1943, all nice and paved.

But the fun doesn’t have to stop there! If you’ve got a few extra hours to spare, there are these super cool Moravian mission stations close by. The one called Goedverwacht is only 20km away, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. Visiting this village is like stepping into a peaceful sanctuary.

Feeling all refreshed and relaxed after your little detour, heading back to the city is surprisingly calming. You can just take some time to think and let your mind wander, and even the traffic won’t bother you at all.

You should totally stay here!

A Piketberg mountain retreat

Quince Cottage: A Warm and Welcoming Stay on Tamarak Farm

Welcome to Quince Cottage, located on the beautiful Tamarak farm. As a self-catering accommodation, it offers a cozy and inviting atmosphere for your stay. Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or a longer vacation, Quince Cottage is the perfect choice.

Quince Cottage provides comfortable sleeping arrangements for up to four people. You’ll find a double en-suite bedroom, as well as a mezzanine area with a bed and separate mattress. It’s a great space for families or friends to relax and unwind.

Your host, Anniza de Villiers, is not only friendly but also incredibly knowledgeable about the area. She will show you the beautiful wild flowers surrounding the dam and share fascinating stories about the local wildlife. Keep an eye out for the resident pair of jackal buzzards!

While the mountain location offers stunning views, it can get a little chilly at times. So make sure to bring along some warm layers to stay cozy.

The cost for a weeknight stay is R950, while weekends are R1,250 per night. To book your stay at Quince Cottage or find out more information, please contact 022 914 5600 or visit tamarak.co.za/quince-cottage.

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Cornerstone Guest House: Your Home Away from Home

If you’re searching for a comfortable and welcoming guest house, look no further than Cornerstone Guest House. Situated in a convenient location, it offers everything you need for a pleasant stay.

At Cornerstone Guest House, you’ll find spacious and well-appointed rooms that ensure a restful night’s sleep. The friendly staff will make sure you feel right at home, providing you with all the necessary amenities during your stay.

Exploring the local area is a breeze from this central location. You’ll find numerous attractions and activities just a stone’s throw away. Whether you’re interested in shopping, dining, or sightseeing, there’s something for everyone.

Hey there! I want to tell you about this amazing place I’ve found in town. The Cornerstone Guest House is a brand new bed and breakfast located at the top of the town. The view of the church below is absolutely stunning!

Let me tell you, the beds at this place are huge and so comfortable. It’s like sleeping on a cloud! And even though the rooms don’t have a kitchen, they do have a microwave and a coffee station, so you can have a quick snack or a hot cup of joe whenever you like.

Oh, and you won’t believe this. They even offer a delicious homecooked dinner if you ask for it. How awesome is that?

But the best part? Waking up early in the morning and watching the sun rise over the Winterberg. It’s such a beautiful sight!

The rates for the Cornerstone Guest House are really reasonable too. It’s only R550 per person per night. Such a great deal!

If you’re interested, you can give them a call at 084 247 1920 or check out their website at cornerstone-guesthouse.com.

Make sure to do this:

A Piketberg mountain retreat

Imagine spending a delightful afternoon at Org de Rac, where you can experience the joy of wine tasting. Sit back, relax, and savor the flavors while basking in the beauty of their organic vineyard. To make your visit even better, you can order a picnic or a cheese platter in advance, ensuring that you have everything you need for a perfect outing. If you want to learn more or make a reservation, you can call them at 022 913 2397 or check out their website at orgderac.com.

If you’re a fan of fresh, wholesome produce, I have the perfect spot for you. Every last Saturday of the month, you can head over to the farmer’s market at Kruistementvlei Farm. This eco-friendly market offers a wide variety of products, including breads, fruits, and other delectable treats. For more information, you can visit their Facebook page, Piket-Bo-Berg Farmers Market.

Are you ready to explore some stunning trails? Three weekends a year, you have the incredible opportunity to explore the private trails on Mouton’s Valley, Pomona, and Bugler’s Post farms. Normally closed to the public, these trails come alive during the U MTB stage race, which offers two-and-a-half days of thrilling riding. And if you’re not up for a race, don’t worry! Two open weekends have been set aside for everyone to enjoy. To find out more about these trails, you can visit piketbobergtrails.com.

If you’re looking for a relaxing escape, why not head to The Baths natural hot springs in Citrusdal? They offer both hot and cold pools, with the water temperature reaching a toasty 43˚C at its source. You can also take a dip in the mountain rock pools for a refreshing experience. Check out thebaths.co.za for more information.

Discover this article in the February 2022 edition of Getaway magazine.

Photos by Anton Crone & Richard Brown

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