Many fortunate kids growing up today know their way around smartphones and tablets before they can even walk or talk. Digital technology has become the new teacher – and parent – helping to shape budding young minds and stimulate the imagination with a seemingly infinite arsenal of online educational games. But none of this compares to the experience of learning something first-hand, in the real world, using all of your senses.
Which is where places like Arolela, a guest farm outside Caledon in the Overberg, come in. Just an hour’s drive from Cape Town, you peel off the N2 on to the R43 towards Villiersdorp, canary-yellow canola fields stretching out on either side of the road. A working farm producing barley, oats, wheat and sheep, Arolela has two simple farm houses for guests – De Vlei sleeps seven and Klipfontein can accommodate up to 13. We stayed in the latter and were immediately charmed by the old wooden floors, large and well-equipped farm kitchen and the ample space, both indoors and out, for kids to play.
But the real highlight of course was the animals. Managed by a fifth-generation farming family, there’s an ethos of sharing (that’s what the name Arolela means, if you were wondering) and providing visiting families with a real taste of farm life. Collecting freshly laid eggs from the chicken coop, later to make their way into a delicious breakfast spread, bottle-feeding newborn lambs and even a rescued baby duiker gives more meaning to the creatures of ‘Old MacDonald’ than any screen animation ever could.
Guests have the run of the farm during their stay and can take part in a number of activities, from walking or cycling along scenic gravel roads to tractor rides and guided farm tours on the back of a bakkie. At the end of the day, with the kids all sound asleep, crack open a bottle of local Overberg wine (Lismore Chardonnay or Gabriëlskloof Sauvignon Blanc are always a treat) and have a dip in the bush Jacuzzi under a blanket of stars. City life will feel a galaxy away.
Where Take the N2 from Cape Town, passing Grabouw, Bot River and the ‘Caledon 20 km’ sign (don’t take the R43 Hermanus turn-off). Turn left at the R43 Villiersdorp turn-off and continue for 2.5 km, then turn left at farm gate. Look out for signs for De Vlei and Arolela. Keep right till you get to the main house.
Cost Minimum rate per house per night is R900
Contact +27 82 387 2416, www.arolela.co.za