Had Cervantes been South African instead of Spanish, he would have set the adventures of his most famous character not in La Mancha but in the Karoo. Just like La Mancha means ‘dry land’ in Arab – being derived from the word al-mansha – Karoo – in Khoikhoi – means desert. And like the land of La Mancha, the Karoo is dotted with windmills. Steel bladed machines pumping up fertility. Shiny phantoms that would have been fought by the Ingenious Gentleman of La Mancha: Don Quixote. Had Cervantes been South African.
This long time impenetrable land still has a magic ring to it for many South Africans. The famous Karoo-lamb, the vegetation, the magical flat top mountains, the blazing night sky and the crisp air all contribute to the mystique of this vast land. But most of all, it is the space and the silence that are the heart and soul of the Karoo.
If there is any place in the Karoo where silence can be heard and space can be seen, it is at a place founded some 200 years ago in what today is known as the Camdeboo Conservancy. Forty-five minutes after you turned of the tarmac of the road between Willowmore and Graaff-Reinet a long and winding dirt road drops you off at a place baptized Langfontein. A place where careful renovation and love for heritage kept the old Karoo heart beating and its soul alive.
In 2004 Langfontein was bought by the Van den Berg family who put an enormous amount of effort and resources into restoring the farm and its buildings to their former glory. Today the family puts their energy into breeding of high quality game like Buffalo, Roan Antelope and Sable and – lucky for all wanting to experience the sound of silence – running the Langfontein Guest Farm.
Three buildings on the farm – Dot’s Cottage, Westbrook and 1830 Cottage – can be rented. All of them capture the atmosphere of an era long gone framed in tasteful modern day luxury like a fully equipped kitchen, good beds, spacious living room, Victorian bathroom and – it’s South Africa – a braai. Firewood, a fresh bread and warm smile upon arrival are also included. Combined with spectacular sunsets and countless stars – all to be enjoyed from your porch – this is living the good life Karoo style as well as a place you should always book a day longer than planned in order not to regret having to break out of splendid isolation too fast.
Langfontein Guest Farm
Marliza van den Berg
T: +27 (0)82 781 9015