I was bribed to write this post. Okay, not bribed so much as forced.
My very busy sister needed a break from that study/work-life and booked a vacay away at the Stonehill River Lodge, outside of Swellendam. I think the booking was made solely based on the fact that the unit had a private Jacuzzi. If you’re going to go on vacay, might as well do it in style, right? I kid, though – they have excellent ratings on Tripadvisor.
I wasn’t really a part of the picture until she enquired and was told that the self-catering unit was actually a six sleeper. Score!! Being the favourite sister, I got invited. Being the lazy sister, I didn’t really prep. All I brought along was 3 Jungle Oats Energy Bars. And so this post is in exchange for the burgers, braai meat, coke, sweets, croissants, wasabi-covered peanuts and waffles I ate. The blogger life is hard y’all.
1. Getting to the Stonehill River Lodge, Swellendam
Google Maps tells me that Swellendam is roughly 220km from Cape Town. It also predicts a 3-hour trip which is basically what it took to get there (factor in the Friday traffic in Strand and the 15-minute drive on a very gravely road). Once we got to the resort, we actually never left! My fam came completely prepared and it was a good call – the gravel road into the resort is a bit of a pain with your normal type of car.
The view as you drive in is stunning. The farmlands meeting the Breede River, along with the Langenberg Mountains is pretty damn special.
2. Unit 11 at the Stonehill River Lodge
We were running a bit later than expected and informed the contact. They said it was no problem and that they would leave the key at an agreed spot.
It was easy to find our unit which was located right next to the pool (another SCORE!). The unit itself was a double-storey and looked very newly built. It was modern but comfortable.
It was a 36-degree scorchers of a day. After running around the unit – noting the 3 bedrooms (1 en-suite), fully equipped kitchen (and yummy drinking water), fireplace, Jacuzzi and patio seating area – I took a stroll down to the pool. The pool was small but lovely.
Later, the very friendly night manager came to meet us and he let us know that we can call him if we have any problems. He was very knowledgeable about the flora and fauna in the area.
My only complaint (if I can even call it that) was that it was very hot but we were advised not to leave the windows open due to pests (mozzies and miggies). It was unusually hot and the fans didn’t do much to cool the place down.
The wifi was a bit spotty and they advise only connecting one device at a time! I could pick it up fine but the others struggled. Also we couldn’t mange to connect the media player to the tv which is a shame for those quiet nights where you may want to snuggle under the covers.
Then again, it was fun to sit in the Jacuzzi as we watched the sunset…
3. Activities at the Stonehill River Lodge
This is a modern, family resort with lots to do! We didn’t really scratch the surface of what we could’ve done, for example:
- Fishing (you can buy/hire) the necessary goods
- Cycling (you can hire a bicycle)
- Croc paddling down the Breede River
I spent some time at the pool and also took leisurely strolls around the park and trampoline. I also did some informal birdwatching from my room – so many pretty little birdies!
The other thing I really wanted to do was the hike/walk. They have 2 trails that go along the river and on the Saturday morning we did the easier of the two – the 5km walk. Most of it was shaded and surprisingly forest-like for the otherwise dry area. Towards the end of the walk, there was a steep incline which was pretty hot in the summer sun. Nothing we couldn’t handle, though.
Feeling overconfident, the next day we decided to tackle the 7km walk and to our surprise, the lodge’s dog decided to join us. What a lovely dog! We were surprised to find out that he’s a rescue and often likes to accompany guests along the route. He was a fantastic guide! Slowing down when we did, making sure we took the right paths. I got a bit of a fright when I saw 4 zebras. Our doggy friend chased them away and we continued.
Towards the end of the hike, the path isn’t very clearly marked. We came across a few more zebra. At first, we thought it was the same 4 but as we kept walking, more and more of them came out from the bush. Clearly, their hiding place! There were maybe 20 of them staring at us and one was grunting! We slowly backed off and actually phoned my sister to ask the lodge what we should do. They told us to keep walking and they would disperse.
I admit that I was really scared!!! And also I felt a bit disorientated at that point as we weren’t sure in what direction to go. A car came and hooted and the zebra ran (to our relief), our doggy-guide ran towards his owners. Clearly, we just needed to follow the road back but we weren’t sure which direction to go in. We chose to go left and luckily, it was the right way to go. Imagine, we were feeling so lost and we weren’t even 1km away from our unit!
…the Stonehill River Lodge is a fantastic place to go for a weekend away. It’s quiet and serene – perfect for relaxing. At the same time, it’s made for adventurers! There’s plenty to do.
My feeling was – there’s something there for everyone.
Stonehill River Lodge website: https://www.dreamresorts.co.za/hotels-resorts/stonehill-river-lodge/explore/