The Cape Town Road Trip You Have To Do: Matroosberg

A visit to Matroosberg is just as much about the road trip as it is about the towering peaks, rippling rivers and clear rock pools you’ll find on the other side.

Photo courtesy of warrenski / flickr

Photo courtesy of warrenski / flickr

From Cape Town, it’s a leisurely, two-hour drive through the Cape Winelands and over the spectacular Bainskloof Pass just beyond Wellington. The road then winds in between a series of mountains until you reach the highest peaks in the Western Cape inside the Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve.

It’s where Capetonians head out to seek snow in the winter and where they get elated when they do, indeed, arrive to find the peaks covered in white. Even if the snow is up against the highest slopes, they’ll walk until they reach it – anything for a snowman.

But first, the fires need to be lit in the cabin. Accommodation in Matroosberg is comfortable, but don’t expect top-of-the-line luxury. The scruffy cabins and basic amenities give the reserve its cheer. It’s about snuggling in the evenings, keeping warm by the fire while grilling marshmallows on sticks and getting excited when the frost starts forming on the ground outside.

Indeed, Matroosberg is a place for the adventurous, laid-back traveller who isn’t bothered with having electricity and crisp linens. The ski hut is a prime example of this.

matroosberg ski hut

Courtesy of Matroosberg Nature Reserve

You wouldn’t think it sleeps 20 people when you arrive at this secluded wooden house with its glass-walled upper level. But when you’ve climbed the ladder to the loft upstairs you’ll understand: there are 20 matresses to be spread out on the loft so that friends and family can enjoy a slumber party of note. The lack of electricity makes for the most spectacular evenings spent stargazing from the giant rock outside, but gas supplies warm water for the two showers, a two-plate stove and a working fridge.

Matroosberg is for travellers who tend to spend their days out on the mountain trails or relaxing on the porch, making simple meals and enjoying each other’s company.

You’re activity of choice will determine how you spend your days here. Hike to Matroosberg Peak (2249m) to get a taste of life on top of the world. During winter, you’ll barely have to worry about packing enough water, as the clear mountain streams will keep you hydrated.

In summer, make a point of stopping over at the many rock pools hidden in the shady crags. With the South African sun baking on your back while you hike, there are few things more refreshing than floating about in the mountain’s very own swimming pools, with the mountains towering in your peripheral vision.

matroosberg 4x4

Courtesy of Matroosberg Nature Reserve

Not big on walking? Take the 4×4 trail up the gorge. It’s tough, so make sure you have a pro behind the wheel! Where the trail ends, it’s another 45min walk to the peak, meaning that you can experience the best of both worlds.

You might want to head down to relax and enjoy the sunset somewhere on a rock closer to home, or you can take it easy and enjoy the sight from further up. Just head back in time, as it gets dark on the mountain – especially in winter when the light starts fading at 6pm.

If you’re keen to try a different kind of adventure, then the target shooting range or paintball course might satisfy, or head off on the quad bikes while the farm’s many adopted dogs chase your wheels.

Whatever you do, make a weekend of it and take all the food you think you’ll need for the weekend. Because once you’re here, you won’t want to leave until you absolutely have to.


Ski Hut: Ideal for a large group of family or friends looking for a spot removed from the other accommodation.

  • Sleeps: 20. No beds – mattresses on upper sleeping deck
  • Electricity: No. Gas stove, fridge and geyser
  • Bathrooms: 2. Each with a shower
  • Bedding and towels: No
  • Cost: R500 per night or R100 per person per night for more than five people

Goatherd’s Hut: The cottage is over 100 years old and a historic sight on the farm. Ideal for a small family or two couples.

  • Sleeps: 6
  • Electricity: No. Gas stove, fridge and geyser
  • Bathrooms: 1 with a shower
  • Bedding and towels: Yes
  • Cost: 1 January – 31 May:
R1500 per weekend.
Per night booking: R900.
  • 1 June – 30 September:
R1800 per weekend.
Per night booking: R1000

Dennebos Campsite: Get far away from it all in this remote campsite. Not recommended for winter, but ideal for lazy summer days spent at the rock pools.

  • Sleeps: 14 caravans or tents
  • Electricity: No
  • Bathrooms: Shared ablutions with hot showers
  • Bedding and towels: No
  • Cost: R50 per person per night

Lakeside cottages: Ideal for couples or small families looking for a view with a difference but without have to compromise on the mountain scenery.

  • Sleeps: 6 each – two rooms with double beds and two double futons in living area
  • Electricity: No. Fans, geysers.
  • Bathrooms: 2
  • Bedding and towels: Yes
  • Cost: R1800 per weekend for 4 people

For more accommodation options and a list of activities, visit the Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve website.

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