About The Old School House
The Old School House is a free-standing Victorian building which can accommodate up to six people. It has three bedrooms, two of which have a double bed, with the third room having two single beds. There is one bathroom with both a shower and a bath, and a large open-plan lounge, kitchen and dining room. The kitchen is fully-equipped. We only take one booking at a time, so guests have use of the entire building.
The Old School House used to double as the school house and church for the Matjiesvlei valley community, and has now been converted into spacious, self-catering accommodation, especially suited for families.
On 21 November 1911 G.C. le Grange sold a piece of his farm, Matjiesvlei, to the Dutch Reformed Church for £10 sterling. A school was erected for the thriving Matjiesvlei community. The school was the centre of activity in the valley until the early 1960’s when, due to a lack of funds and reduced population in the valley, it was sold. It remained unoccupied until August 2001 when the building was transformed into a guest house.
You can take leisurely walks on the farm roads, along the river’s edge and to explore the Karoo Koppies. If you feel inclined towards more exertion, there are a variety of challenging hikes which take you into the pristine wilderness of the area. One such challenging hike is the "Poort Hike" up the Gamka River through the gorge between the Klein and Groot Swartberg Mountains into Gamkaskloof, known by weary travelers as "Die Hel". The Poort Hike requires some preparation and is best undertaken with a guide or at least GPS route co-ordinates.
The area offers a 4x4 routes, which takes you to one of the highest koppies, Bojaanskop, which provides a 360º panoramic view including the Swartberg and Rooiberg mountain ranges, and the farm and veld roads provide both leisurely and challenging mountain biking.
You can swim in the farm dam, fed by fresh mountain water and you can also swim or canoe in the Gamka River. The yellowfish in the Gamka River provide many passionate fishermen with their favourite fly-fishing. There are also black bass, mogga, and eel for those who prefer stationary fishing. The area is a bird watcher's paradise with over 118 different species spotted. The resident pair of fish eagles share a view of the river with you. The Grey heron, hamerkop, cormorant and various kingfishers also favour the elevated vantage point above the river. Smaller birds like weavers, bee-eaters and swallows are always active between the river and the vegetation. The region also boasts the highest concentration of Pale Chanting Goshawk in the southern hemisphere. High over the Swartberg, the black eagle can be spotted gliding in search of prey.
Also for those who appreciate the micro level, a wide variety of succulents abound in the area. Succulent enthusiasts come from far and wide to observe the tiny, the small, and also the larger succulents of the area. The veld, even when dry, is perpetually green, because of the abundance of Spekbos, and Guarrie. During autumn the Aloe Ferrox flowers dominate. Spring is ushered in by a diverse array of flowering veld bulbs.
The Old School House is situated in the heart of a World Biodiversity Hotspot. This means that we are situated in one of the most biologically rich and most endangered areas on earth. There are 35 such areas in the world and three of them – Succulent Karoo, Fynbos and Subtropical Thicket – intersect in this area. For an area to be declared a Biodiversity Hotspot, it must contain at least 1500 species of endemic plants or animals and have lost at least 70% of it’s original habitat. This is what gives it it’s special conservation status and makes it especially interesting. Eco-tourism, and the interested involvement of as many concerned visitors as possible, is an essential part of Biodiversity Hotspot conservation.
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The Old School House Map
*Distances are shown as the crow flies and not necessarily the actual travelling
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