My husband and I have been eyeing the Matroosberg Nature Reserve for a while now and we have been waiting for winter in the hopes that when we would be able to show our kids snow. We finally got to make this trip and booked the Goatherder House. It is a stone house that is over 100 years old. It is has no electricity but it does have a gas fridge, 2 plate gas stove and hot water.
Every school holiday my parents travel a nearly 700km round trip to collect my kids and then after a few days I do the same trip to collect them which as you can imagine is rather tiring for all of us. This time my parents joined us for out weekend away and then took my kids back with them which meant that we all got to spend some time together plus my parents only had to travel half the usual distance since Ceres is half way between us.
My husband and I enjoy choosing places where we can really connect as a family and have screen free time. It is important that we find places that are private and quiet and have great hiking opportunities. We love going for walks, especially in mountain areas, so Matroosberg Nature Reserve looked like a really good bet.
We left home at lunch time and arrived at about 4pm. The drive was lovely, especially coming up the winding mountain road. For me part of the fun is the traveling, dependent of course on how my kids behave in the car. Thankfully the trip went smoothly. I find that my husband and I really get to connect while traveling. At home things are often so chaotic with my husband working long hours away from home, then studying part time through Unisa. I work from home and run the household while looking after the kids. It often feels like we completely miss each other even though we sleep in the same bed every night. These weekends away and the drive gives us time to be together and talk in a way that we don’t really get the chance to otherwise.
My parents arrived and booked in before us. We had to report to reception to get a permit for our car and to be let in. The lady that dealt with me was friendly and helpful.
When I walked into the house the first thing I thought was oh my it looks like it is night time already inside! The weather was cool, overcast and misty the walls are all stone and dark which adds to the darkness too. It was a strange feeling knowing that I won’t be able to turn on a light so I lit some candles instead.
My kids were so excited to explore the cottage and it is quite small inside. The main room has a kitchen area and an area around the fire place which has 2 beds which double as couches. Each bed has a pull out bed underneath which can be lifted up and attached to make each bed unit into a double bed. There is also a bedroom with a double bed in it, which we insisted my parents sleep in.
We unpacked and got settled in and made a fire because it was getting colder. The fireplace is huge and an absolute necessity with the cold!
My kids had an absolute ball deciding who was going to sleep where and fiddling with the beds. They always get a kick out of the sleeping arrangements when we go away.
We had an easy supper of wors rolls and had an early night. It was so awesome to go to bed early with my book light and read in bed for a while. Without phone reception or an internet connection I can really relax more without worrying that I should be trying to get a little more work done.
In the morning it was amazing to get up and see where we really were since after arriving in the afternoon it was so overcast we couldn’t get a good idea of the setting, so much so that we weren’t even sure where the mountain was in relation to where we stayed. The morning was crisp but clear enough for us to get outdoors and take a walk.
We headed off up the road towards the mountain and it was delightful. We walked through a camping area in a forest with a stream next to the road. A little further up we passed the Ski Hut which can accommodate up to 20 people. It also has no electricity, but it does have a fully equipped kitchen and hot water showers. You will need to bring your own bedding and towels staying there. (At the goatherder house bedding and towels are supplied.)
There were loads of puddles from the rain and my son was in heaven. He had to walk through every single puddle. It is like a compulsion and he cannot control himself.
We walked up until the start of the 4 X 4 trail and we all would have loved to have gone further however I have had plenty experience hiking with my kids. It is so important to know when to turn back since however far you go you still need to make it back. My kids are 6 years old and 4 years old so they do get tired quite easily and the last thing this mom needs is to carry back one of my kids!
On the way back my son spotted a huge red mushroom – it looked like it came straight out of a fairy tale. It was about 15cm tall and beautiful. I am sure that it must be poisonous, you never can be sure with mushrooms growing in the wild.
After we got back to the house we all had something to eat – my husband took a drive with our son while my dad took a well deserved nap. I had asked my mom to bring some board games, in particular Scrabble. It had started to get a lot colder with some rain. In my mind this is the perfect time to play board games or read. My 6 year old daughter has just started to read and she takes delight in learning new words. I was looking forward to teaching her how to play Scrabble.
After first saying she didn’t want to play, after seeing my mom and I start setting out the game she very quickly changed her mind. We helped her along with creating her words and she was delighted when she landed up winning the game by a long shot!
After our game we all read for a while. The day passed surprisingly quickly and before I knew it we were having supper and heading off to bed again.
We didn’t hang around in the morning. It was cold and after packing and tidying up it was close to 10am which is the check out time. And no we never got to see snow, but the day after I saw people sharing pictures on Facebook of snow in the area so we missed it by a day!
My Verdict For Matroosberg Goatherders House
Staying in the Goatherders House was certainly a novel experience that my kids loved. The setting is beautiful and it is so peaceful and quiet. It is a lovely place to get away from it all.
Overall it was a lovely weekend away where we got to spend lots of time together. If you are up for roughing it with no electricity, for getting out and about in nature and taking some lovely hikes then you will love the Goatherder House!
There were some small downsides to our weekend such as it was so cold that none of us were prepared to take our clothes off and test the shower. The combination of the cold weather and the stone walls was quite intense. Plus the bathroom was very tiny. I’m sure if I took my clothes off in there and tried to get into the shower my body would be bumping against the freezing cold walls! It was just 2 nights so we all “saved water” instead.
There are no proper pillows supplied for the beds in the main living area, only for the double bed in the bedroom. The pillows that are supplied are big cushions that are not very comfortable to sleep on so I recommend taking your own pillows with.
The house is really small and we found ourselves bumping into each other all the time and you cannot move anywhere when the beds are pulled out. The house can sleep 6 people but I think space wise it is best to keep it to 4 people, especially if you are there in winter and you will be spending time indoors.
Make sure that you take plenty of wood – you can also arrange with Matroosberg when you book to buy wood from them.
It would have been amazing to see snow, but it also would have been wonderful to be there during spring or early summer when it is not too hot. I would have loved to have been able to do some more hiking and exploring and it would have been lovely to let my kids run around more.
Matroosberg is definitely somewhere that I want to return to with my family at some stage, perhaps we will try one of the Lakeside Houses next time. I also want to do the 4 X 4 trail but we will need a hardier vehicle for that.