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Matjiesvlei Farm Campsite, Calitzdorp, Western Cape

Place: MatjiesvleiCalitzdorp, Western Cape
Closest Town: Calitzdorp (12km)
Facilities: Open campsite with some sites nestled between the trees, relatively new ablutions with hot water compliments of an easy-to-use donkey boiler*, quaint cottages also available for accommodation
Water: A dammed stretch of river, Matjiesvlei
Surroundings: Mountainous Klein Karoo
Turf: Mostly grassy with ample shade around the edges
Distance from CT: 372km
Privacy: A few semi-private campsites nestled in between the bushes along the dam, rest of the campsite fairly open
Highlight: Exquisite views if you explore the farm, very hospitable hosts- Bennie and Selma Nel
Cost: R150 per vehicle
Contact: +27 (0)73 174 1028 (Selma Cell), +27 (0)44 213 3756 (home), Email: matjiesvlei@telkomsa.netWebsite
GPS Coordinates: -33.454646, 21.636286

Matjiesvlei Campsite
Matjiesvlei Campsite

I’ll confess upfront: I didn’t actually camp here. The intention had been to camp, but since very affordable cottages were available and there was a group of people interested in joining us, we settled for a lovely little house on the hill.
However, I did scout around the campsite and become slightly acquainted with the farm, so feel quite confident that I can give a fair account of what it would be like to camp here.
Some context:
Matjiesvlei is situated off the R62  about 5km before Calitzdorp. Access to the farm is via dirt road with a slightly bumpy river crossing at the end necessary to get to the campsite (admittedly a stretch that may not favour conventional passenger vehicles).
View towards the campsite
The campsite:
It’s situated in the river valley next to where the river has been dammed. While the view of the river is blocked by trees and bushes and access to it from the campsite is limited, there are plenty superb views of the surrounding mountains and a mission to get to the river is easy enough. It’s not a massive campsite, but likely doesn’t get too busy anyway.
What we liked:
If you are camping in a big group, a highlight would be the area in the middle of the campsite designed specifically for bonfires. The ablutions seem pretty new and very comfortable- arguably better than most campsites we’ve encountered. There are also great shaded spots along the perimeter of the campsite for people who may want a bit more privacy and/or plenty shade.
Matjiesvlei from near the campsite
Activities on and around the farm:
Mountain biking, a 4X4 route, fishing and there’s at least one fair hike up a ravine. There are plenty things to see and do in the greater area, with Calitzdorp offering cosy restaurants, coffee shops and a couple of wine farms, including Boplaas, which renowned for its port.
I’d certainly recommend a stay at Matjiesvlei whether at the campsite or in the cottages. The farm captures the essence of the Klein Karoo- an area that has its own flavour, offering something refreshingly different, slow paced and relatively unexploited.
Example of shaded perimeter
*If, from the description at the start of this entry you are wondering what a donkey boiler is, it’s an old fashioned hot water geyser. It works very simply- make a decent fire in the opening and feed it wood every so often to keep it hot. It works perfectly, but while it may seem a bit primitive, it is no reflection on the actual facilities. They are pretty new and probably the best we’ve seen in a while. The donkey boiler actually speaks to the heritage of the farm, making the experience that much more authentic- it’s a farm that has been in the family for several generations.

Campsite Ablutions
Campsite Ablutions


Gifberg Holiday Farm, unofficial river campsite, Western Cape

Place: Gifberg Holiday Farm, unofficial river campsite
Closest Town: Vanrhynsdorp (though let this not determine your judgement)
Facilities: Nature all the way, baby
Water: A flowing river- the Doring
Surroundings: Rugged rocks and mountains typical of the Northern Cederberg
Turf: Sandy river bank
Distance from CT: Roughly 300km
Privacy: this is where the word originated
Highlight: You realise that time is an invention
Cost: R80 pppn and R50 vehicle fee
Contact: 027 219 1555,
GPS Coordinates: -31.866478,18.820696

Doring River
Superior Chilling
Our Rustic Camp

Find a spot, and settle

Early Morning on the Doring
On the way down to the river

The road to the river
This one’s slightly different. You don’t venture 4 hours out of Cape Town on a standard 2-day weekend, over a dramatic pass and eventually down a fairly taxing farm road and arrive at lush green pastures with scattered trees overlooking  a pretty river. And you don’t neatly unpack your camping gear and then have a hot shower before settling down in front of your campfire in its designated spot. No. 

It’s better.
Instead, it’s really what camping should be. It has nothing. Access is 4X4 only. It takes a few double trips down to the river from where you can park your car to offload your bits and pieces. It’s sandy. It lacks trees. It has no plug points. No ablutions. Nothing, really. And no one. Obviously, that’s the brilliance.
Unconventional hair wash
It’s just you, your company, the Doring River, and nothing else.

Admittedly, it’s quite a drive from Cape Town, but in a place where time is defied, worrying about and accounting for every minute of your planned weekend becomes irrelevant .