Halfaampieskraal – a not-so-secret idyllic hide-away

When we ran out of tarred road turning off the N2 in the Overberg district, I was forced to put my trust in my Garmin GPS. This despite my initial surprise it even knew where Halfaampieskraal was!

We took an obscure, loosely pebbled dirt road meandering through faded yellow wheat fields, sparsely dotted with distant whitewashed homesteads harking back to a different era. Chubby merino sheep huddled together and the occasional long necked blue cranes elegantly strutted through the cropped low fields with fluffy babies in tow.

Overhead a thick duvet of white cloud mostly covered the periwinkle sky, blotting out the sun and hanging low over the sun-bleached fields. It smelt of dust mingled with dry wheat, touch by the recent sprinkling of rain, and the unmistakable smell of fresh country air.

Despite the hour – midday – birds were still chattering in the sparse roadside trees or on telephone wires, and occasionally I saw a yellow-billed kite circling for a ground kill or resting on a wooden fence post. Little beehive boxes thrived along the dirt roadside.

The Halfaampieskraal road marker suddenly appeared (with a little sign underneath clearly stating ‘By appointment only’) and I braked hard, kicking up a red dust sandstorm, for the first of many photo opportunities.

A right turn up the long dirt road gave no sign of the little grouping of whitewashed farmhouses that make up what Perfect Hideaways calls “the perfect place to do nothing at all”.

Then they appeared, dotting the pale yellow landscape like white smudges. Parking and reception signs gave a clue as to our next move.

The farm’s name comes from a half-aam – an aam being a Dutch measure of 75 liters (of liquor) – and what the farm was sold for sometime in the 1700s, along with a white horse and a saddle.

A quick tap on the backdoor of the main house and then we were inside Aladdin’s cave. In the tiny entrance portico we were greeted with a piercing stare by an unsmiling Kudu wearing a floral wreath, as if it had just attended a local Indian festival.

The stark rough white walls of the main farmhouse in no way prepared me for the dazzle of colourful splendor and spectacle inside. Each and every room was a riot of colour, unusual collections (coral, candles, grecian vases, candelabra …) eclectic modern displays alongside antiques.

Clear assorted glass vases, vibrant paintings and faded framed photos, tiny greek statues, mini building models, antique china wall plates, oversized vases bursting with fresh (surprisingly fragranced) flowers, intricately painted walls and exotic oriental rugs all fought for my attention.

From the good old fashioned farm-style food served on vintage silver and porcelain dishes with mismatched cutlery, enjoyed in a colourful and full flower-bursting dining-room with a cozy log fire burning and a view of the distant Overberg mountains, to the deliciously comfortable beds in bedrooms (6 in total, each one decorated differently) beautifully decorated with heirlooms and crisp down-filled comforters on four-poster beds draped with white netting, with heavy velvet curtains to block out the bright early morning light and thick and plush bath towels – this is a different and elegant level of luxury and attention to detail.

It’s hard to believe this is a working farm (sheep farming, I believe), although the three exuberantly friendly border collies, a clutch of brightly coloured hens and cocks, a huge herd of ducks and a large family of squealing pigs and piglets all attest to this.

It you want to take a piece of this heaven home, there is a little shopping area tucked in the library offering the farms’s coffee table books, classy linen scarves, peacock aprons, huge velvet cushions, homemade jams and lemonade and other exotic and interesting pieces to remind you of your wonderful stay.

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