After a long slow day of driving over and around mountain passes from Oudtshoorn over the Swartberg then loop back to Route 62 for several hours I was more than ready for soaking in hot water at Warmwaterberg Spa. (Pronounce the ‘w’ like a ‘v’. Go ahead, Varmvaterberg.)
This was another excellent traveler recommendation as was Route 62 itself. I love how talking to locals while traveling usually adds to the must see places already on my list. Warmwaterberg Spa is a unique and rather rustic step into the past.
Soaking in hot water
I checked in to what they call a chalet but I’d describe as a rustic cabin which provided more than adequate comforts including bed, bath and kitchen with a set of bunkbeds in the main area providing a great place to pile stuff. The lighting was a little dim and the floors a little creaky. But that didn’t stop me from reserving for two nights then adding another night because I just wanted to keep soaking in hot water.
The first night I soaked in a Roman bath in a private room made all of cement and rather echoey once two young voices moved into the room next door. But I just soaked all the road weariness away in that super deep tub all to myself. It could be a rather romantic setting by candle light.
After a soft sunrise and first breakfast I checked out the other three soaking pools, two warm and a cool—but cold to me—splash pool.
Don’t let the natural rusty color of the water stop you as this was clean and delightful. It’s just high iron water and well stained cement. The temperature in the pools varies from 75-108 degrees F (25-42 C). Moving from pool to pool for adjustment worked mighty fine.
I actually did more than just soak in hot water, and eat. Just above the resort area are two hiking trails, not long or difficult.
Within a few hours walk I saw numerous birds most of which I didn’t get photos of due to their quick nature and my slow.
The view back along the road I drove in on across the valley towards the Langeberg Mountains.
Plus an overwhelming variation of what are obviously succulents but unknown to me. In fact the area was described as a “succulent hot spot,” by a biologist the manager Pierre had walked with that day. Sure wish I’d been along to take notes.
Wandering peacocks are just part of the history at Warmwaterberg. During my visit in March the almost colorful peacocks strutted about, just coming into mating plumage. I didn’t get any long or colorful feathers, not for lack of trying. 😉
Pierre LeGrange is from the 6th generation to run the spa which has been open to the public since 1896 while the family originally farmed ostriches for feathers. Pierre’s grandfather told him that in 1912 they sold about 5 pounds of feathers for almost the price of a motor car.
The main house and bath houses were built in 1908 as a sanatorium to use the healing powers of the hot water in the sunken Roman baths. From the 1980s-95 a cousin of Pierre’s developed the wooden chalets, Lapa, and brought in caravans. He ran the establishment until 2012 when Pierre took over. Pierre showed me a renovated chalet and talked of other plans to add more while keeping with the historic Dutch charm.
Accommodations & Services
Currently the spa offers self-catering accommodations in the main house which is a Victorian style building consisting of five units, a three-bedroom mobile home, and several Chalets with one, two or three bedrooms. Caravans, which are small RV trailers, are also available to rent or bring your own. This many choices covers a variety of budgets.
The Lapa has a store with some basic groceries, a large common room with pool table, and a restaurant with bar. I ate several delicious meals there and enjoyed a local honey beer and wine from the neighboring vineyard. That luscious desert is Malva, a pudding cake in heavy cream with ice cream and raspberry sauce. I met a fellow guest who joined me for lunch and I later stayed at her home in Langebaan on the West Coast.
I found a perfect combination of good food, drink and company while soaking in hot water at Warmwaterberg Spa and will definitely return during my next visit.
Warmwaterberg Spa is a hot mineral spring situated between Barrydale and Ladismith along the famous Route 62 from Cape Town to Oudtshoorn. A 1.5 mile (3 km) gravel road leads to the spa and up towards the Warmwaterberg Mountains.
Friendly, down to earth and relaxed. No music allowed. If you want that go just down the road to Ronnies Sex Shop.
“Here we offer you country hospitality at a slow pace, tranquility, wide open spaces and steaming hot water to restore body, mind and soul.”
Sure worked for me. Do you like to soak in hot water?
If the dessert pictured above has you drooling try making it at home. Here’s a recipe for Malva.
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