At nearly all of the locations I lived in while in the US, I was lucky enough to have a swimming pool in the backyard. It’s something I took full advantage of because I love swimming. It’s my favorite thing to do when you want to have a lazy weekend and not go anywhere. But when I moved back to South Africa, a personal swimming pool isn’t a luxury we can have, unfortunately. Day Zero is rapidly approaching Cape Town and by now, we should all be doing absolutely everything we can to save as much water as possible. The reality of the drought has seriously hit home and it’s safe to say we are all preparing for the day when taps across the city are going to be turned off. In case you ever feel like you’d really just like a weekend where you can open the tap and don’t have to bath from a bucket, I’ve rounded up 5 places to escape to for a wet weekend away during the Cape Town drought.
5 Places for a Weekend Away during the Cape Town Drought
For some Capetonians, leaving the city for a period of weeks or months during the worst of the drought is an option (I am hoping to go stay with my family in Joburg). For most people, learning to live with this new normal of having no access to tap water and queuing for the allocated 25l per person per day is going to be an adjustment.This is by no means the end of the world, and the reality is that most of the earth’s population live like this on a daily basis. But no one can blame you for longing for the days when you could watch a shower scene in a movie without it giving you anxiety. For those weekends when you really need to wash your hair, here are 5 places that aren’t too far to drive to.
1 Lord Milner Hotel, Matjiesfontein, 2 hours 40 minutes
Water restrictions in Matjiesfontein: Moderate | Access to water: Borehole
The Lord Milner Hotel in Matjiesfontein is located just over two hours outside of Cape Town on the outskirts of the Little Karoo desert. It’s one of my favourite hotels in the world and has an old-timey charm that can’t be beaten. The historic town has been beautifully preserved, although the hotel has modern fixings for comfort. My favourite feature is the salty borehole-fed pool, which is sparkling blue and deliciously icy on a hot summer’s day. As the sun sets, the best place to be is on the sprawling porch, where you can sip a couple of G&T’s before a delicious dinner in the old-fashioned dining room. *I’ve stayed here before and can assure you it’s amazing.
2 Die Laaitjie, Robertson, 2 hours 15 minutes
Water restrictions in Robertson: Yes | Access to water: Waterfall
Wonderfully remote, Die Laaitjie is nestled in the Dassieshoek valleys in the Langeberg mountains, just outside of Robertson. The waterfall on the property flows all year and the area has had quite a bit rain while Cape Town didn’t have any. You can choose between self-catering 2 bedroom cottages, or the main house, which has 4 double en-suite bedrooms. And yes, there is a pool! *I’ve never stayed here myself but a few of my friends have and it comes highly recommended.
3 The Marine Hotel, Hermanus, 1 hour 30 minutes
Water restrictions in Hermanus: No
If you’re looking to really splash out, The Marine in Hermanus is one of my absolute favourite luxe hotels. It’s entirely possible that you could hear whales blowing from the comfort of your own room, and the sea views are incredible. The hotel is gloriously luxurious and serves really amazing food. It’s super central, so you could easily spend the day exploring the area. This is definitely one of the best getaways swimming pool and bath-starved Capetonians could wish for. *I’ve stayed here myself and although it’s a splurge, it’s truly stunning.
4 Schoone Oordt, Swellendam, 2 hours 30 minutes
Water restrictions in Swellendam: No
With dams at 79% and recent heavy rainfall, Swellendam is the perfect place for a weekend of bathing and swimming to your heart’s content. Schoone Oordt is really a special place, with lush green lawns, a sparkling pool and a bright conservatory where you can enjoy long breakfasts (which are seriously to-die-for) or afternoon drinks. It’s another stunning restoration, perfect for relaxation. *I’ve stayed here myself and guarantee you’ll love it.
5 Tailor’s Cottage, Stanford, 2 hours
This sweet cottage has 3 bedrooms and a fully-equipped kitchen. Although there’s no pool, but you’re a very short walk from the stunning Coca-Cola coloured Stanford river, where you can swim to your heart out before showering in a real shower (not a bucket). There are some really lovely restaurants in Stanford, and a few nice wine farms nearby, so when you’re not swimming there’s enough to keep you busy. *I’ve stayed here before with my family and it’s a great little escape.
Although I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back to using water without a second thought for how much of it is going to waste, it’s nice to know that there are a few places close enough to enjoy the luxury of nature’s most precious resource. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned during this drought, and for the way it’s made us all more aware of how much water we were allowing to be wasted before. Long may our water-saving practises last.