I love stories. And the Africamps Doolhof story is one worth telling. The valley, just below the Bain’s Kloof Pass outside of Wellington, houses the Doolhof Wine Estate on nearly 300 hectares of mountainous land. Doolhof (Afrikaans for ‘labyrinth’) got its name from early settlers aptly naming the one entry and exit valley. Established in 1709, the estate has passed from owner to owner, while the first wine was bottled on the estate in 2005.

Chapter 1: The Labyrinth

The legend of the labyrinth is well-known. In Greek mythology, the first labyrinth was built for King Minos of Crete to hold the Minotaur, a half man and half bull creature. The creature was eventually defeated by Theseus, a classic Greek hero. Labyrinths, as opposed to mazes, offer only one entry and exit and are often used today for meditation.

This story translates across the entire estate. Along with the dramatic views and beautifully restored white buildings, the farm has its own labyrinth, and their ‘Legends of the Labyrinth’ wine range features characters such as Theseus, The Minotaur, Lady in Red, Lady in White, and Dark Lady.

Chapter 2: The Lodging

Africamps is the latest addition to this award-winning estate. No stranger to the luxury accommodation industry, this Africamps branch is managed by Angelo Casu and Johan Fourie, well-known host of the Grand Dedale Country House, which can also be found on the Doolhof Estate. Angelo’s love of the outdoors shines through in his passion for not only providing accommodation but also various outdoor activities to accompany the stay, such as mountain biking, hiking trails and more.

Having previously stayed at the Kam’bati branch, just outside of Swellendam, we were no stranger to the unique Africamps offering. The camp features beautifully decorated tents that are able to sleep five people comfortably – there is one room with a queen sized bed, and another with both a queen size bed and one single bunk bed.

The bathroom is quite big, and kitted out with a shower. I live in Stellenbosch Central where the water pressure is nothing short of terrible, and the camp’s pressure is perfect – I spent some extra time just enjoying the water’s massage which was a huge treat.
Stalking the camp beforehand, I saw that each tent had their own hot tub, which was literally all I talked about for the two weeks leading up to the weekend. We had a lovely welcoming spitbraai on the Friday evening and therefore planned to start our fire early the the next morning to start warming up the tub. We got up promptly at six the Saturday morning to get our tub ready for a breakfast swim. They provide a wood starter pack, whereafter you can purchase more at the Tasting Room.

We struggled initially to get the tub just right, as you have to stir it quite often to mix the warm water at the top with the colder water at the bottom, but when we got back after our 12pm wine tasting, the water was perfect! We spent the entire afternoon lounging in the tub – thank goodness for the mild weather as Wellington can become hellishly hot.

Chapter 3: The Banquet

Glamping is still camping and that is what makes the Africamps experience so unique. If you opt to have breakfast and dinner at your tent, they deliver a beautifully packed basket right to your door. The breakfast pack contained eggs, bacon, sausage, granola, home-made yoghurt, whole wheat bread, juice and croissants. All you have to do is fry the eggs and bacon, cook the sausage, pop the croissants in the oven and you are good to go!

The dinner, on the other hand, is a braai pack of steak, kebabs and sausage with two different salads, dough for bread and braai potatoes. All you have to do is start your fire from the loads of firewood that come with the tent and decide if you want your steak medium or medium-rare.

Chapter 4: The Cellar

The camp is exceptionally quiet with a few bird chirps here and there, as well as the sound of a stream running nearby. The estate is well-known for its Malbec production and from the camp you can see the bush vines growing in the vineyard nearby. There is also a playground for the kids and several other outdoor activities, as previously mentioned.

We were treated to a wine tasting at the Doolhof tasting room led by the winemaker, Gielie Beukes. While their focus is on Malbec, we tasted the amazing Lady in White (Chenin Blanc) and The Minotaur (Cape Blend). They are also expanding their Limietberg range to include their reserve Malbec, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. The tasting room also serves some delicious platters and a wine tasting will cost you R50 for five wines. The addition of this winelands experience to the glamping experience really makes this Africamps branch quite special.

The Africamps concept is simple; standardised tents in awesome locations that are designed to be a hassle-free camping experience on the country’s most famous routes, such as Route 62 and the Garden Route. Each location brings its own flavour to their offering; while the Kam’bati branch is more family-orientated, this Doolhof branch caters to the winelands and cycling enthusiasts.

Epilogue

So, this is the part of the review where I tell you the story behind the weekend. My boyfriend is actually the glamping enthusiast and I jumped at the opportunity to have him accompanying me on this weekend. We’ve been dating for more or less two years now and he has mentioned getting married in passing.

Enthralled by the story of the labyrinth on the Doolhof Estate website, and the idea of entering in one state and exiting in another, he phoned the manager and informed him that he was planning on getting engaged at the centre of the maze. The amazing Africamps manager, Mark, obliged him and arranged for champagne and a platter to be delivered to our tent.

He led me down to the labyrinth and had me take a meditative walk to the centre, where he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. Surrounded by the most dramatic mountain views, splashes of pink bougainvilleas here and there and two beautiful horses galloping in the background, I got to say yes to the love of my life!

Ready to write your own story? Win a weekend for five at Africamps Doolhof valued at R4 180 – click here to enter.

Author

Free State-girl, living in Stellenbosch. Love to explore small towns, read in Afrikaans and everything pop-culture. My favourite yoga move is 'The Pigeon' and one day I'd like to own my own vintage cinema.

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