Nearly 6 months ago I was surfing around AccommoDirect to look for hidden gems in the Western Cape. I’ve been travelling overseas predominantly for the past few years and now that I’m married and settling down, I’m taking in our beautiful country as much as I can, bit by bit.
I found an AWESOME little smurf house tucked away in the Franschhoek mountains called the Waterfall Lodge, at Chamonix estate in Franschhoek. It seems I’m not the only one stoked to have found it because this place is pretty darn popular! I had to wait 4 months until I can book it for a weekend! But you can clearly see why…
Chamonix in Franschhoek
Home to Ruben’s, Chamonix is a well-known wine farm in Franschhoek. Having said that, I’ve not ever visited before and knew nothing about it!
I took a look at their website, but wasn’t too sure how their accommodation worked as they have a lodge, a number of chalets, a private lodge and waterfall lodge. I couldn’t quite figure out what was what, so I used the AccommoDirect site to book. The Waterfall Lodge was too spectacular to turn down so I stuck to my guns and waited our turn, even though I had to wait a few months to secure it.
A Weekend Away
Mr John and I made our way to Franschhoek after the Cape skies had cleared at the start of June. The mountains were looking spectacular, as were the vineyards, and we enjoyed exploring the new venue.
It was a real adventure to wind our way ALL the way to the top of the mountain road, taking corners and navigating the vineyards. We arrived at Chamonix Guest House, to fetch the keys, and waited around for about 20 minutes. Our host, Brywell was off for lunch and there was on way to contact him (Murphy’s Law, you sit down at 3pm to lunch the guests arrive!). I stuck my head around the office and found a study…with a hunting photograph on the wall. Oops! I think I invited myself into someone’s house!
Hunting at Chamonix
It turns out that Chamonix is owned by an old hunting family! Now, I’m in two minds about this:
- South Africans are very sensitive about wildlife and hunting so it was a TOTAL SHOCK to enter the foyer and be greeted by DOZENS of trophies!!! The animals were all absolutely exceptional, but it was not what I was expecting!
- This is Africa. People hunt. It’s a nomadic continent because of hunting and it’s very much a part of our cultural tradition (from all aspects of culture). It’s kinda “normal” and even though it’s not for me, I try not to bash other people’s family traditions.
What I do think is important, is for me to say something about it here. It’s not advertised on their website that there are trophies, and Chamonix itself does not offer hunting itself (this is a private collection by the owner), but if you are someone who is sensitive to this sort of thing – be warned!
Waterfall Lodge at Chamonix
The Waterfall Lodge is a stone cabin nestled between two waterfalls. One behind the stone cabin and the other at the bottom of the drive way.
After taking in the incredible views across Franschhoek, Mr John and I hopped back into the car and made our way up the mountain road to the stone cabin. Tucked away in the crevices of the Franshhoek mountains, the lodge really is something so special.
The round shape is unique and the wooden furniture, leather couches, Christian artwork and warthog tusk clothing racks really makes you feel transported back in time. Even to my own childhood, even though my Dad’s not a hunter, it reminded me of the nineties, of visiting family friends near Kruger and of the old, calm stability of an old building.
There is room for 4 at the lodge; in a double bedroom downstairs and two single beds upstairs. There’s a fully equipped kitchen, separate bathroom, but shower and bath in the main bedroom.
When we arrived the staff had put the BIG cast iron oven on. Smoke trickled from the house’s chimney and warmed the lodge. Having said that, it was still ABSOLUTELY FREEZING! This HUGE iron oven could barely warm the whole lodge. I had a nap in the main bedroom on the day we arrived, turned the spare heater on, which basically acted as a light. It was so cold that it produced ZERO warmth!
That night, I chose to sleep in the single beds above the main bedroom. Unfortunately, the heat rises in the stone cabin and settles on the floor above the main bedroom, which means the main bedroom remains a freezer while the rest of the cabin heats up. Luckily, we didn’t have friends with us so we were able to sleep upstairs. It was deliciously toasty and we slept SO well in the little roof single beds.
Game at Chamonix Farm
The great thing about Chamonix is that they have a mini game farm with eiland, zebras, wildebees, springbok and a few other species. After exploring the village of Franschhoek on Saturday afternoon, we made our way back to the farm and entered the park. They don’t recommend you get out your vehicle if you drive in, but if you park at the manor house then you’re able to talk down and watch the animals up close. It’s an awesome experience and really beautiful to be this close to the animals.
Two Nights at Chamonix
On our last night, Mr John made a fire outside so that we could fully take advantage of the amenities. The iron stove was heating the cabin and I had a bath. Unfortunately, the water runs on gas so it wasn’t very warm. Mr John kept boiling the kettle and pouring pots of hot water in the bath, it was a real adventure!
There is no television in the cabin, which is gives you a great excuse to embrace some proper downtime. Sit with your thoughts, listen to a podcast, read their Reader’s Digest Collective Book (which I actually found genuinely very entertaining!).
Why Stay at Waterfall Lodge
I think Waterfall Lodge must be exceptional it the summer. When it’s stinking hot in the winelands, you can stay at the lodge and swim in the pool at the base of the waterfall. You can enjoy a fire under the night sky and explore the Franschhoek wine valley.
By the time we left, we had really warmed up the little stone cabin and I did feel a bit sorry to leave. But I don’t recommend staying in deep winter like we did, as you just don’t get to enjoy how splendid it really is (there was no chance in hell I was swimming when I we were there!).
Staying at the cabin is a real adventure. As I mentioned, the hot water comes from gas and you have to use a gas cooker as well. You have to build your own fire every night and it makes you feel like you’re having a real adventure.
Also, it’s quite difficult to get back down the mountain! It’s well sign posted up, but not so much on the way down! SO we took a few unsolicited tours of the farm, oops!
Find the next available weekend for the Waterfall Lodge on AccommoDirect. It’s tucked away on Chamonix Farm which you can find here: