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Resting in the shadow of the Towerkop peak of the Swartberg Mountain range lies the lovely little town of Ladismith. Just over 300km from Cape Town, along the renowned Route 62, the charming fruit farming community – producing a third of the country’s plums and apricots, gallons of quality olive oil, stocking cellars with world class wines and extraordinarily good cheese – this sophisticated little hamlet in the Klein Karoo is as intriguing as it is lulling. Its vast skies and as-far-as-the-eye-can-see landscape, its spectacular mountain ranges met by old gravel roads that run through the vineyards, the groves and the orchards are the natural essence of what lured so many curious communities to settle, many hundreds of years ago.
Along one of those gravel roads within the Buffelsdrift conservancy, a cluster of farmhouses, barns and outhouses scatter themselves along the roadside. Overlooking the olive groves and the rugged Karoo terrain – all the way out to the Rooiberg mountains – Buffelsdrift settles itself into the abiding land it occupies and opens its 1850’s doors to a timeless and tailored space. Comprising of a main house, two separate barns and the pink wine store, this hideaway accommodates as many as 10 guests. Most of its original building components and signature features have been lovingly restored and brought back to life thanks to the architect-owner’s compassion for the build, its heritage and its integrity. So much so that the Italian Ferrara University awarded Buffelsdrift the gold medal for the Domus International Prize for Restoration and Conservation. The Santa Maria di Nazareth Church in Venice shared the medal with this hideaway. Original lime and clay foundations and walls, yellowwood beams, poplar timber and rough stone flooring, thatched roofing and the original poplar wooden shutters are just a few features to mention.
Together with its history, this hideaway has its beguiling attributes of seducing you into a contemporary calm amidst the ruggedness of the Karoo. Refined furnishings and clever, comfy finishes adorn each living, cooking, entertaining and reclining space – so as not to detract from the authenticity of its environment. The collection of the Dutch Gable houses and the gorgeous pink wine store with their equally-ample adjoining and independent spaces allow for fabulous family gatherings for days on end. As soon as the window shutters are swung open and the morning sun greets the magnificent landscape that unravels with the rays of light, coffee and chitter chatter will ensue in the courtyard, under the pergola and its creeping vines, whilst the more active few hit the gravel road for a quick jog into the wilderness. Some might be doing a spot of yoga on a mat beneath the acacias, whilst others are likely to still be snoozing in bed. The beauty of the Karoo and its ever-changing light allows for different moments throughout the hours of the day – spent in the courtyard, around the dam or the swimming pool, walking through the young olive groves or in the veld, around the fire-pits and fire-places reclining, reading, board-gaming or – dare we say it – working! With the WiFi as speedy as it is, you are at your leisure to catch up on a couple of those projects should you feel inspired. There are enough hours in the day for it, here. And the crisp air, the stillness of the nature that abounds, the birdlife dancing in the blue, or the dramatic display of stars shooting through the Milky Way at night. As the wood crackles away in the fire-pit and the melody of water trickling, travelling down into the dam pacifies our busy bodies into a happy slumber.
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What you need to know…
Reviewed by Colleen Ogilvie
Wine Store - from R2 500 per night
Main House - from R5 500 per night