Part of wanting to drive from the Free State or Kwa Zulu Natal to the Cape, was the prospect of staying at Lemoenfontein. English translations – Lemon fountain. I adore this guesthouse, hardly tucked away as little can be tucked away in the vast, arid Karoo, but nevertheless, always a surprise to stumble upon when the car and inhabitants have been well and truly shaken on the dirt road leading towards the homestead.
You would not be mistaken for thinking you are part of a Lunar expedition, such is the desolate landscape, but the Homestead is all Gentleman’s residence. All as an Oasis should be. Refuge from the heat, paramour to the Karoo lifestyle and the retreat we weary trekkers fall into at the end of very long drive of little to behold en route.
Part of the charm is the lack of perfection. One gets the feeling that you have dropped in on beloved uncles and aunts waiting for you on the ballroom sized ‘stoep’ for tea and ‘soetkoekies.’ Built in the 1850’s this is all pure farm or ‘pure plaas’ as the Afrikaners would say. The children head straight for the pool and an hour of catching some sun before it dips down behind the mountain. Then you remember the desert that radiates heat by day, becomes glacial at night.
The rooms are airy, spacious and simply decorated. Restful decor, calm exudes along every corridor and a favourite is the immense sitting room calling the body to sink into a leather sofa, raise a salute to the guests on the walls and retrieve a cold one or a bottle of wine from the ‘honesty bar’. All friends here.
No stay is complete without the traditional Dinner outside. A view is breathtaking. How to describe it? For some it may seem as if you are on the most isolated spot on the earth; for me the expanse, the distance gives me oxygen, lifts my eyes from the immediate to the possible, the distance from sand to star and stars impossibly many, are within my line of vision. The night sky, the Karoo Lamb dinner, the promise of a deep, calm sleep – these are my love affairs with Lemoenfontein.
Leaving the next day is a sadness of sorts. Always look forward to my turn off at Beaufort West. Reminds me of my childhood in uncluttered days.
pic c/o lemoenfontein