Forest Hall Estate. Garden Route. South Africa
Why we love it:
Spending our family holidays in nearby Natures Valley meant Forest Hall was a regular day visit for us, climbing steeply up from Salt River to the gracious homestead where tea and scones would be served on the vast lawns under Oak Trees. Now beautifully restored by new owners maintaining its original charm, and available as a villa, it still holds the magic and mystery that it did for me as a child. Surrounded by wide lawns, thick forest and fynbos, and a short walk down to the rocky beaches - its like having your own nature reserve.
What to expect:
As you walk in to the front door you will be met by a giant tripple-volume mural in the entrance hall, and soon afterwards the friendly SharPei dogs. Expect to feel like a lord in your manor as you wake in your enormous bedroom under yellowwood beams and throw open picture windows to the sea air and endless views. The main house sleeps ten people comfortably, and three outside cottages accommodate a further 12 people in white-percale-linen-comfort. Lose yourself in comfy lounges, sunrooms and various decks that offer secluded sunny spots to entertain or lounge. The huge pool is set away from the house with its own entertainment room and pizza oven, which means kids and teens can cavort without disturbing anyone. The farm-style kitchen boasts every mod-con, and if you prefer not to cook, their is a chef available. We arrived to fresh baked bread and muffins with our afternoon tea. Lovely!
What to do: Located in the heart of the Garden Route between Plettenberg Bay and Natures Valley, you will find pristine beaches, seaside towns and, forests. On your doorstep is Monkeyland, The Elephant Sanctuary, Tenikwa Cheetah Park and the biggest bird park in the Sothern Hemisphere. These will keep your kids busy for days. Nearby you can enjoy horseriding, whale watching and shopping. But our guess is that you will struggle to leave the estate and enjoy lazy days at the pool, walking through the forest, having long lunches under the oak trees, sundowners on your own private deck at the dam, and perhaps a picnic while doing some fishing at the beach. Its the kind of place you dont want to leave, and suits a big family gathering or special event where being together is the focus of each day.
Kids: Climb the oak trees, play with the dogs, sheep and horses, fish in the dam or on the beach, swim all afternoon or explore the elephant pools in the forest!. Pick your vegies from the garden, or go horseriding. A cosy attic style bedroom reminds you that Forest Hall definitely has got kids in mind. The nearby Puzzle Park is wonderful for kids!
How to get there: Forest Hall is about a six hours drive from Cape Town and two hours from Port Elizabeth where there is an airport.
Best time to go: Summer is of course idyllic in that area, but winter in the Garden Route is also magical, with cold mornings and evenings, but clear days common. Out of season the area takes on a special kind of magic, with forest birds, otters and antelope often being seen.