Onverwacht Cottages is different from the other places we cover in our articles. Why? Well, for starters there is no camping, which is odd since this blog is all about camping. The truth is, occasionally we part with tradition and enjoy the change, especially when it allows for a different bunch of people to get away with into nature.
Onverwacht Cottages is near McGregor, about 180km from Cape Town (about 2 hours drive). The easiest way is via Robertson to McGregor, and then carry on for another 15km on passable gravel. The turn-off to Onverwacht is well sign-posted and to the left.
To Book your break to Onverwacht Cottages you can follow the link to their website. Booking is a breeze with quick response and excellent service.
There are 8 cottages of various sizes, from the stunning 2-sleeper (Blushing Bride Cottage), to the cosy 8-sleeper (Waboom Cottage), with five 6-sleepers in between, all named after indigenous fynbos flowers. Beware, the extra 2 people sleep in the dining/living area, so they won’t have any privacy. All the cottages are rustic, with stone walls and lots of oddities creating a homely and distinctive decor. All cottages have electricity, showers and a fireplace. The kitchen has a gas stove and is well equipped with everything you will need. Each cottage has a braai on its stoep and there is plenty of seating, so you literally can just arrive with your food and clothing.
There is a small communal swimming pool, and even a rudimentary play area for younger children. The fynbos starts right at your doorstep and there are a number of walking paths that start from Onverwacht, but beware the one leading to the bottom of the valley, where the Gobos river flows slowly towards Greyton, is very steep and not well maintained, so best not to venture into the kloof from this point.
Check-in is from 14h00 and there is no access gate, so you could arrive late into the night (just beware that the last 15km is gravel and you need to take it easy). Check-out is at 10h00, but management is relaxed about when you leave, especially on Sundays out of high season.
Important Additional Info For Your Stay
- There is no shop on site and the nearest facilities are 15km away in McGregor.
- They sell wood, but you need to arrange for it beforehand. Ours was delivered before arrival!
- The water at the taps is from tanks, so it is advisable to bring your own drinking water.
- There is limited cell phone reception at Onverwacht; but WhatsApp messages eventually come through.
Activities at Onverwacht
Onverwacht Cottages has a lot to keep you busy, but you can just as well stay right on your stoep and marvel at the awesome views that surround you.
For those with a bit of energy to dispense, we can recommend the hiking trail that starts near Eagle’s Nest House, a short 1km ride from Onverwacht in the direction towards Greyton. The trail is part of the Boesmanskloof Hiking trail that starts at Greyton and meanders for 12.5km towards Die Galg, which is the other name for Eagle’s Nest House.
You need not do the whole trail, in fact it would be a very long and strenuous day if you did the 25km return trip in one go! There is a 5km option that starts along a historic pass, that was abandoned about 1.5km into the project. At this point you can turn around and return on fairly level ground, or you can descend into the kloof, about 140m below.
At the bottom you turn left and walk next to the river for a short distance, before the track ascends towards Eagle’s Nest House, some 250m above. The scenery is breath-taking, and this 2-hour walk can be undertaken even if you are moderately fit. Very unfit walkers should not attempt this route. Remember to take water, because you cannot always rely on the streams to be running, especially in the hot summer months.
This place is a treat for twitchers, so don’t forget your binoculars. In our two days we ticked, amongst others, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Sugarbird, Ground Woodpecker, Nedicky, Jackal Buzzard and a gorgeous pair of Verreaux Eagles, rising on the thermals. Keep an eye open for the endemic Robertson dwarf chameleon (also known as the Little Karoo dwarf chameleon), and if you are fortunate, a caracal (we saw a genet).
You don’t need to be a botanist to appreciate the diversity of fynbos, which is especially abundant in this area. The winter months are better for the various flowering proteas, but when we were there in late November, there was still plenty on display, especially the bright orange pincushion proteas. Unfortunately, even this paradise is beginning to be invaded by alien plants, the worst of which are the cluster pines (Pinus pinaster), introduced from Europe for commercial forestry in Genadendal around 1825, and the hakea trees, a species introduced from Australia in 1858 as a hedging plant.
Once you are all natured out, we can recommend a trip into McGregor for a lunch in one of the local restaurants, or if you don’t want to venture that far afield, Lord’s Wines is only 5km on the way back to McGregor. The owner, Jacie Oosthuizen, combined his passion for wine and cricket to create a truly special place, with wines that reflect the unique climate and terroir of the region. The MCC Brut Rose is worthy of special mention. They serve light meals and the venue lends itself beautifully to a special event.
Onverwacht is a time away in nature not to be missed. We can highly recommend a visit. We booked for a big group and the booking process was so easy, so much help and support.
Looking forward to our next opportunity.
To read about more places we have visited you can follow this link.