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Budget Getaways 2015

Author and photojournalist Marion Whitehead selects some of her favourite escapes.

Buccaneers Lodge & Backpackers
Where? Eastern Cape, north of East London at Chintsa West on the Jikeleza route
Cost? En suite cabins from R680 a night; two-bedroom beach cottages from R850 a night; dorm beds from R135 a night.
Bookings: 043 734 3012 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Since Bucs built four new cabins on stilts with great views of Chintsa Bay, I’ve had to revise my favourite accommodation option at this friendly establishment nestling in eight-hectares of coastal forest. I’m happy to leave the dorms to young travellers and for years always asked for a rustic cottage with a river view. But the modern cabins’ panoramic views blew me away – I could lie in bed or sit on the deck watching board sailors on the river, horses cantering on the beach and surfers riding the breakers. Free activities at Bucs include canoeing on the river, volleyball and lounging around the sheltered pool where you’re bound to make new friends. Self-catering facilities are available, but why bother when Bucs dishes up tasty meals every evening? If you’re looking for a very chilled beach holiday with friends, family or just on your own, pull in here and be prepared to de-stress.


EaglesNestEagles’ Nest Chalet
Where? Eastern Cape, outside Port Alfred at Mansfield Private Game Reserve
Cost? R295 an adult a night sharing
Bookings: 046 624 8199 | 079 968 0222 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Perched on the edge of a cliff high above a bend in the Kowie River, where lazy sundowners on the deck easily morph into a laidback braai under the stars, it’s not surprising that this is a favourite spot for those with romance in mind. There’s no cellphone reception or electricity at this very private self-catering chalet and hot water for the shower is provided by a wood-fired donkey-boiler. There are two extra beds in the open-plan room if you insist on bringing the kids, but the campsite next to the playground a couple of kilometres away on the river’s edge at the Black Rock Restaurant (open only during high season) is a better bet for families. Hiking is permitted in the reserve and birding is good, but you can also book an informative game drive with a guide to see the plains game, which includes giraffe, zebra and a range of antelope.


ElandsbergElandsberg Eco Tourism
Where? Western Cape, 23 km from Clanwilliam off the R364 to Lambert’s Bay
Cost? From R250 a person or R600 per apartment in the low season.
Bookings: 027 482 2022 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Rooibos tea plantation and factory tours, combined with the wonders of fynbos flowers, make for a fascinating visit to this 1600-hectare farm where it’s safe for kids to roam free-range, whether on their bikes or on foot. Two simply furnished units with kitchenettes overlook a glorious indigenous garden at the foot of a koppie, outlined with weathered rock formations hiding fading rock paintings. It’s a serene spot for a picnic with a view of the Cederberg Mountains in the distance. The one-bedroom apartments sleep four if you use the sleeper couch in the living area and are wheelchair friendly, as is the braai boma in the garden. Meals are provided by arrangement and there’s a little gift shop stocked with a range of rooibos products. The indigenous garden attracts a variety of birds, so you can do a spot of rewarding birding just sitting on the deck or at the pool.


This article first appeared in Fair Lady