The fireplace crackles in the background, flames rising higher and higher as we cram more wood onto the already overladen pile.
It is so cold right now that we are almost sitting on top of the fire, scared to lose the warm and embracing heat that encircles our bodies.
Wine in hand and book at the ready we embrace the cold front that has been thrust upon us. For once we dreamed of a warm sunny day, but now we sit in awe as we watch the snow-covered mountains in the distance, a sight so rare to us that we feel as if we have been transported out of Africa, and into a magical land worlds and worlds away.
We sit, stare, laugh and converse, all to the backdrop of a flickering fire.
Boplaas 1743, a name that in itself carries a lot of weight. It tells the story of one family’s legacy. A story about the only remaining original farmyard in South Africa. A farm that is now 278 years old with the 11th generation currently residing on the farm and picking up the baton to continue running the fruitful family farm. So much history and life within one piece of land. Once used as a sheep farm, now a rich fruit region. Apples, citrus, peaches and pears are grown here, making the Ceres valley sweet once again. Who knows, maybe even you have even tasted their fruit…
There is just so much history to the Boplaas farm and the Van der Merwe family. You can read all about their family genealogy on their site. It’s very interesting, I can’t read Afrikaans very well, but I tried my best and sat down with Google Translate. I wish I knew my family history like this, it’s so fascinating, everything from a king to knights to a baron, to a humble sheep farmer turned poet and fruit connoisseur.
Boplaas 1743 is also associated with the famous Afrikaans writer and poet I.W. van der Merwe, or Boerneef. This is where he was born and grew up.
He even wrote a book named Boplaas which recounts memories from his childhood and life growing up on the farm, stories about the place itself, using the farmworkers and the farm animals as important characters in his stories.
He is also not the only poet of the family. Carl Boplaas also wrote and shared memories from his experience on the farm and memories of a bygone era.
Have you ever read anything published by Boerneef or Carl Boplaas?
Is it a hotel? A lodge? No, it is a self-catering guesthouse. An entire modern farmhouse that you can rent out and have all to yourself while you celebrate life with your family and friends. It has four lovely bedrooms that can sleep up to eight people, a huge kitchen and scullery (with more than enough appliances, crockery and cutlery), a lounge with a cosy fireplace, a modern TV and family games room and lots of seating at the dinner table. There is also a beautiful outside patio with a braai that overlooks the majesty of the old Boplaas 1743 farm and dam; a dam that is swimmable in the scorching summer heat.
For us, we visited in the winter, while the snow was resting upon the mountain tops and falling ever so slightly from the sky. The house provided us with warm and cosy comforts, it was a place for laughter, for red wine, for a crackling fireplace, a good book, a game of 5 seconds and simply for time in each others’ company… All while we remained safe, tucked away from the chilly Koue Bokkeveld.
We’ve told you about some of the farm’s history, now it’s time that you go and see the rest of it for yourself. With 11 generations worth of belongings, there are interesting family artefacts and relics at every turn. Besides the main farmhouse, there is an old mill once used to grind flour, an old soup house, a wagon shed and a baking house. The Boplass 1743 homestead itself has actually been declared as a national monument. While you are visiting or even just passing by, call ahead and book a tour of the museum, it is a real gem.
Not only is Boplaas the oldest family-run business in South Africa, but they are also the first in the continent to use a floating solar plant on their Marleniquein farm in Franschhoek. They believe that sustainability is their number one priority and they were able to reduce their farm’s carbon footprint by 50%!
You Go Boplaas!
The kitchen is superbly kitted out. So bring along your favourite ingredients and cook up a storm. Tip: Make sure to pack some extra Tupperware to bring your leftovers home with you.
Well, in our opinion, Boplaas is great all year around. We went in a colder season (during August) and still had a great time!
We got to watch as the snow fell and gently capped the mountains like soft icing sugar, which, if you live in South Africa, you will know is very rare and exciting.
Boplaas Guesthouse, after all, is in the Koue Bokkeveld, which got its name for a reason (cold buck shrubland).
However, the summer months are also great, you can spend time outside, you can braai, go swimming in the dam, hang out in the wood-fired hot tub with a cocktail in hand or just explore the lush farm itself.
Summers (November to Mid-March) are hot and dry.
Autumn (Mid-March to April) are warm in the daytime, while a little cooler in the evenings.
Winter (May to Mid-August) have comparably high daytime temperatures for winter, while the evenings and mornings prove to be chilly. You could also be faced with one or two rainy days.
Spring (September to October) The winters have passed and the flower season is in full swing!
As always, this is up to you and what you are looking for. A long weekend is absolutely ideal… However, a week away with your family and friends is even better!
Boplaas is located in the Koue Bokkeveld, a mountaineous region in the Western Cape of South Africa.
It is very close to the Cederberg and is also very similar in terms of its flora and fauna.
It’s best to travel down with a car, and we highly recommend making it a part of your must-do South African Road Trip.
You can book directly through their site or using Airbnb.
We absolutely love coming across local gems with fascinating family history! Do you agree? Let’s chat!
Disclosure: We received a sponsored stay at Boplaas Guesthouse 1743 in exchange for this written article and inclusion in our video travel guide series. We always give our honest opinions and beliefs on products and services; our views, reviews and opinions are entirely our own. See our Disclaimer Policy for more info.