Once upon a time in a deep, dark forest not so very far away, TravelGround had some lovely tree-filled stays, and so Red Riding Hood and the woodcutter had a romantic weekend in a granny cottage, Goldilocks was served a delicious meal before retiring to her luxurious bed, and Snow White ended up having a blast with her seven friends during their weekend getaway.

The best part of this story, however, is that you too can have your very own fairy tale forest stay! Be it a romantic getaway, a chance to find (or lose) yourself in the forest, or to relax in nature with some friends, just scroll down to see the fun that awaits.

And into the forest we go …

 

Platbos Forest

Join owners Francois and Melissa Krige at the southernmost forest reserve in Africa, just off the R43 between Gansbaai and Hermanus.

Platbos Forest | Photo: greenpopsa (instagram) Platbos Forest | Photo: platbosforest (instagram)

ACCOMMODATION

Platbos offers a range of accommodation options, from a 4-sleeper self-catering cabin, to a 20-sleeper camping site, to glamping tents which have been erected under 1000 year old milkwoods. Experience this off-the-beaten-track-forest in an off-the-grid-way when you find yourself in the Overberg region again.

Platbos Forest Cabins

Fun to be had in the forest…

* Visit Hermanus and Gansbaai
* Attend the annual GreenPop Reforest Fest
* Meditate in the mother-of-pearl labyrinth
* Do the forest walk
* Help conserve the forest by planting a tree
* Go bird-watching

Reforest Fest | Photo: greenpopsa (instagram) Reforest Fest | Photo: greenpopsa (instagram)

 

Magoebaskloof

Known as the ‘Land of the Silver Mist’, Magoebaskloof in Limpopo will take you back to the fairy tale forests of your youth.

Forest Bird Lodge

The nearby town of Haenertsburg with its antique shops and restaurants, and the abundance of trails and outdoor activities in the area means that this beautiful region offers plenty to do and to see. 

Outside Haenertsburg | Photo: alfamirez (instagram) Haenertsburg | Photo: thebrandedpanda (instagram)


But if you’d like to be left in peace you’d be happy to know that there are countless hiding places here!

Bellerive Guesthouse

ACCOMMODATION

BELLERIVE GUESTHOUSE

For a family gathering or a group of friends, the Bellerive Guesthouse is the way to go. Situated on an estate surrounded by forest, this 10-sleeper house is fully equipped for a self-catering stay. It is perfect for fly-fishing enthusiasts and nature lovers, and, since the whole family is coming along, bring your pets too – they are most welcome here!

Bellerive Guesthouse

PAVETTA COUNTRY HOUSE

Nestled among a pine and indigenous forest at the edge of the Haenertsburg Trout Association’s trophy dam, this beautiful self-catering house is a great pick and comfortably sleeps 8 adults and 2 children. It is the perfect, secluded getaway for a group of friends or a family.

Pavetta Country House

KURISA MOYA

If a lodge is more your speed, Kurisa Moya is what you need. Sleeping between 4 and 10 guests, one of their beautiful units is bound to be just the forest find you’re looking for.

Light a fire outside The Farmhouse and tell ghost stories until the wee hours of the morning, all the while listening to the sounds of the forest.

The Farmhouse @ Kurisa Moya

Or book one of the secluded Forest Log Cabins for a romantic getaway – on stilts!

The Forest Lodge Cabins @ Kurisa Moya

Remember, these units are pet-friendly, so Fido is welcome.

MAGOEBASKLOOF BIRDERS’ COTTAGE

Birders and adventure bathers alike will be pretty pleased with what the secluded Magoebaskloof Birders’ cottages have to offer.

Robin's Cottage @ Magoebaskloof Birders' Cottages

Stay in the 6-sleeper Robin’s Cottage or in the couple’s Trogon Cottage. Each unit is equipped with an indoor fireplace, private outdoor baths offering views of the forest or the mountainside, and are off-the-grid with gas appliances and water heated by a donkey system – you’ll be free as a bird at this quiet forest escape!

Trogon Cottage @ Magoebaskloof Birders' Cottages

BRAMASOLE

If luxury among the trees is what you’re after for your next couple’s getaway, the beautifully appointed self-catering 2-sleeper units at Bramasole are just the thing.

Bramasole

THE STABLES AND THE LOFT @ GLENOGLE FARM

Want to horse around between the trees? Then Glenogle Farm has 2 beautiful units for you to choose from!

The Stables and The Loft @ Glenogle Farm
The Stables
is a luxurious, fully equipped self-catering unit. It sleeps 4 and sports a beautiful spiral staircase up to the second storey and a fireplace when you’d like to keep the winter chill at bay.

The Stables @ Glenogle Farm

The Loft is ideal for a romantic weekend and is situated just down the boardwalk, showcasing views of the lake and the forest, as well as self-catering facilities and a similarly cosy fireplace.    

The Loft @ Glenogle Farm

 Fun to be had in and around the forest…

* Magoebaskloof Canopy Tour
* Kloofing and abseiling at George’s Valley Gorge with Magoebaskloof Adventures
* Debegeni Waterfall
* Hiking, bird-watching and cycling
* Ebenezer Dam Cruises
* Trout, bass and fly-fishing
* Haenertsburg’s antique shops
* Wegraakbosch Organic Dairy and the Zwakala Brewery
* Festivals like the Haenertsburg Food, Wine and Beer Festival and the Magoebaskloof Spring Festival

 

Wegraakbosch Organic Dairy | Photo: askewjane (instagram) Zwakala Brewery | Photo: zwakalabrewery (instagram)

Tsitsikamma

The Tsitsikamma National Park, if properly explored, packs quite a punch for any nature lover. Apart from the forest, the park also straddles pristine coastline and breathtaking caves to be explored by canoe, not to mention the nearby Bloukrans Bridge bungee site, the world’s highest commercial bungee point!

Canoe caving at the Storms River Mouth | Photo: grandeurnoire (instagram) Bloukrans Bridge | Photo: tourismmarketinghd (instagram)


Boasting 116 giant tree species, one of which, the “Big Tree” yellow wood, is about 800 years old with a circumference of nine metres, Tsitsikamma is worth a trip and, therefore, worth a stay as well.

Tsitsikamma Forest | Photo: lachess82 (instagram) Tsitsikamma forest | Photo: sir.jaread (instagram)

ACCOMMODATION

MISTY MOUNTAIN RESERVE

Flanked by the Indian Ocean on the one side and the Tsitsikamma Mountains and Forest on the other, this lodge offers breathtaking views and nature activities like fishing and cycling. The accommodation, ranging from 2- to 4-sleeper units, has varying degrees of self-catering facilities, but there is a restaurant on the premises and a bar at which to enjoy a nightcap after a long day of foresting.

Misty Mountain Reserve

BLUE HORIZON – ABSOLUTE TSITSIKAMMA

Situated on the breakers with the forest as its backyard, this 8-sleeper self-catering house offers breathtaking ocean views — maybe you’ll even spot some whales or dolphins!

Blue Horizon - Absolute Tsitsikamma

THE FERNERY LODGE & CHALETS

For our discerning forest-bound guests, this 4-star lodge has it all! Relax in the Jacuzzi with a view of the forest and streams, go down to breakfast and take in the spectacular view of the Storms River Mouth or row a boat on the lake enclosed by trees. Need we say honeymoon?

The Fernery Lodge & Chalets

PEAR TREE COTTAGE

Have an environmentally friendly forest-stay in one of these two quaint, secluded 3- to 4-sleeper cottages which are equipped with self-catering facilities. Set in tranquil surroundings near the Storms River Peak, the frogs and birds will serenade you to sleep.

Pear Tree Cottage

TSITSIKAMMA LODGE

Rustic log cabin meets grand lodge at this beautiful hotel set in the forest and surrounded by the mountains. Each of the 34 cabins have luxurious amenities like a private deck and a spa bath, and delicious meals are served in the restaurant on site.

Tsitsikamma Lodge

Fun to be had in and around the forest

Bloukrans Bungee with Face Adventures
* Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour
* Untouched Adventures‘s kayak and lilo trips up the Storms River Gorge
* Tsitsikamma Wolf Sanctuary
* The Big Tree
* Tsitsikamma suspension bridge
* Hiking (Experienced hikers should try the Otter and Dolphin trail)
* Blackwater tubing
* Storms River Village
* Marilyn’s 60’s Diner
* Bird-watching
* Horseback adventures
* 4×4 trails
* Cycling

Tsitsikamma Wolf Sanctuary | Photo: jpljason (instagram) Tsitsikamma suspension bridge | Photo: kkotenkova (instagram)

 

Knysna

This well-loved forest covering the slopes of the Outeniqua Mountains comprises a rich mixture of trees, creepers and ferns which are nearly impenetrable in some places. With scatterings of indigenous fauna and birds such as the brightly coloured Knysna trogon, the Knysna Forest has been the muse of writers like Dalene Matthee and a favourite haunt for outdoorsy vacationers — with good reason! Experience the sprawling canopy of trees, cobbling streams and damp forest walks next time you drive by this most scenic route.  

Knysna Forest | Photo: amypie2u (instagram) Knysna Forest | Photo: lolaloveslavender (instagram)

ACCOMMODATION

FOREST VALLEY COTTAGES

Breathtaking doesn’t even begin to describe the view from these 6 self-catering cottages perched above the trees. Bring the family along to stay in the 4- or 6-sleeper cottage or whisk the special person in your life away to one of the couples’ cottages sporting views of the forest below from the comfort of a luxurious bathtub.

Forest Valley Cottages
CABIN 16 AT PHANTOM RIVER VIEW

This self-catering cottage at the edge of the forest is perfect for a family of 8 or a group of friends looking for a secluded getaway. With all the luxuries and comforts of a home and a sparkling pool overlooking the valley, you won’t want to leave paradise.

Cabin 16 at Phantom River View

CLIFFHANGER COTTAGES

Here’s your answer to that romantic getaway or honeymoon you’ve been planning: a self-catering wooden chalet, built on the edge of a cliff overlooking the forested valley and tree-covered mountains. This beautiful cottage takes romance right up to the edge!

Cliffhanger Cottages

HOMTINI GUEST FARM

Sleeping 2 to 5 guests each, these self-catering cottages situated on the Seven Passes route are a great getaway whether you’re a family with some travelling pets, a group of friends or lovers looking for alone time. And with a view to die for, you won’t believe how affordable these log cottages and tented lodges are!

Homtini Guest Farm

TENIQUA TREETOPS

Fancy a more outdoorsy stay? Then these eco-friendly treehouses situated in the Garden Route National Park will blow you away. Each self-catering treehouse sleeps between 2 and 4 guests. A remarkable time is to be had (on stilts) at Teniqua Treetops!

Teniqua Treetops

FOREST EDGE

Situated east of Knysna, these tranquil self-catering cottages can accommodate 4 to 6 guests each and are the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Laze around by the braai or in the hangmat, or don your comfy shoes and meander through the forest. However you choose to relax, this place is a great find for any city-weary nature-lover.

Forest Edge

Fun in and around the forest

* Hiking and forest trails
* Featherbed Nature Reserve
* Birds of Eden Sanctuary
* Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary
* Knysna Elephant Park
* A rage of fishing opportunities
* Knysna Oyster Festival
* Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival
* Knysna Heads
* Whale watching in season
* Beer tasting and tours at Mitchell’s Brewery
* Knysna Waterfront
* Antiquing in Knysna and Sedgefield
* Bird-watching
* Cycling

 

Monkeyland | Photo: victoria_b_xx (instagram) Knysna Trogon (loerie) | Photo: kathleen.vanoppen (instagram)

 


This indigenous forest, situated near Heidelberg and Swellendam, has only been a reserve since 1986, but has quickly grown in popularity. Featuring nearly all of the great indigenous afromontane forest trees of which the giant redwoods are the most characteristic of the region, there is plenty of dappled shade to make your forest walk a comfortable one. Use one of the bird hides to spot the rich array of feathery friends or seek out the elusive ghost frog or forest emperor butterfly when you traverse this beautiful green landscape.

Giant Redwood Trees are characteristic of Grootvadersbosch | Photo: thelionandthelady (instagram) Streams and trees at Grootvadersbosch | Photo: capenature (instagram)

ACCOMMODATION

AUGUSTA DE MIST

Though some way away from the forest itself, the beautiful 2- to 3-sleeper units at this guesthouse in Swellendam will ensure that you sleep like Snow White to awaken feeling fresh and ready for a day amongst the trees.

Augusta De Mist

HERMITAGE HUISIES

Some 50 km west of Grootvadersbosch you’ll find these adorable 2- to 5-sleeper cottages. If a day trip to the forest and dinner at one of Swellendam’s restaurants is on your itinerary, Hermitage is the perfect, tranquil accommodation to retire to after an eventful day. It is also right next to the berry farm!

Hermitage Huisies

BRACKENHILLS PRIVATE NATURE RESERVE

If you’d like to be right on the forest’s doorstep, Brackenhills is the way to go. These 2-sleeper glamping tents and single caravan make use of a fully equipped communal kitchen, otherwise traditional African meals can be prepared for you. If you’re a lover of nature and the programmes put in place to help conserve and protect it, this tented camp is the place for you.

Brackenhills Private Nature Reserve

WILD, OFF-THE-GRID, STYLE AND COMFORT

Style and eco-friendliness come together at this 6-sleeper house located on the outskirts of the historic mission station at Suurbraak. Truly a unique stay, this beautiful piece of modern architecture and design is fully equipped for self-catering and is just a short drive from Grootvadersbosch.

Wild, off-the-grid, Style and Comfort

Fun to be had in and around the forest

* Bird-watching from special birdhides in the forest
* Cycling (MTB Transcape)
* Forest hikes
* Swellendam, Heidelberg and Suurbraak
Bontebok National Park
* Sulina’s Faerie Sanctuary
* Lavender picking at The Lavender Farm
* Berry picking and liquor tasting at Wildebraam Berry Estate
* SpiritFest outdoor yoga, music and dance festival
* Photo opportunities in the canola fields around the reserve at the end of winter

SpiritFest Outdoor Yoga, Music and Dance Festival | Photo: spiritfestafrica (instagram) Bontebok National Park | Photo: tom_thewildlife (instagram)

Hogsback

With its breathtaking waterfalls, expansive green canopy and snow covered forest floor during the winter, it isn’t all that hard to see why it is said that the forest at Hogsback inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to write The Lord of the Rings.

Overlooking Hogsback Forest | Photo: neatureboi (instagram) Hogsback Forest | Photo: chellbelle_vs (instagram)

ACCOMMODATION

GRANNY MOUSE HOUSE

This charming owner-run guesthouse is nestled in a beautiful, flowery garden in the quieter part of town. Accommodation is offered in 2-sleeper guestrooms which are perfect for travellers and couples looking to find some peace and quiet amongst the trees.

Granny Mouse House

HOGROCK FALLS

The two eclectic log cottages at Hogrock Falls offer excellent views of the forest from the curved deck. Equipped for self-catering, the units can be booked separately or together. The cottages offer a quaint, cosy option close to the cascading waterfalls in the region and are each suited to a family of 4 or a couple simply looking for romantic forest walks.

Hogrock Falls

Fun to be had in and around the forest

* Hiking and cycling in the forest
* The 39 Steps, Kettlespout and Madonna and Child Falls
* Hogsback Farmers Market
* Hogsback labyrinth
* Snow during winter
* The Bath at the End of the World
* Shire Wild Bulb Nursery
* Hogsback Festival of Trees

Just as beautiful during Autumn | Photo: kerrivdz (instagram) Hogsback Labyrinth | Photo: somekindofswampwitch (instagram)

Consisting of 60% mistbelt forest, the Karkloof Nature Reserve has been a project of love and dedication for Timothy Hancock who leased his farm to local authorities in 1983 in a bid to conserve and expand the natural ecosystem that once existed here before the area was ravaged for its hardwoods. Today Karkloof supports significant and diverse indigenous plant and animal life and the canopy tours and waterfalls are firm favourites among visitors.

Karkloof Forest | Photo: twane_clarke (instagram) Karkloof Forest | Photo: rogerdelaharpe (instagram)

ACCOMMODATION

ROCKWOOD LODGES

Located on Spitzkop Farm within the borders of the Karkloof Nature Reserve, Rockwood Lodges offers accommodation for 4 to 8 guests in each of its 4 self-catering units. Since the units are set in such a secluded area, guests are asked to enquire about the state of the gravel road and high clearance vehicles are needed. Once you reach this hidden gem, a range of outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, mountain-biking, bird-watching and general down-time await!

Rockwood Lodges

Fun to be had in and around the forest

* Karkloof Canopy Tour
* Bird-watching, hiking and cycling in the forest and surrounds
* Bass, Trout and fly-fishing
* The Karkloof and Howick Falls
* Howick and Pietermaritzburg
* The Mandela Capture Site at Howick
* Karkloof Farmer’s Market
* The Midlands Meander Arts and Crafts Route
* Terbodore Coffee Roasters
* Midmar Dam

Terbodore Coffee | Photo: terbodorecoffee (instagram) Karkloof MTB | Photo: mtb.and.adv (instagram)

So take the time to breakaway to your very own fairy tale at one of these beautiful South African forest and live happily ever after.

Granny Mouse House Hogsback

Main image: Cliffhanger Cottages (TravelGround)