Montagu
Close to the ground.

GPS: S 33 47.176 E 020 07.194 pop. 10,000 | elevation 231 m/758 ft

The little town of Montagu marks the gateway to the Klein Karoo on Route 62. The shops and restaurants that line Long and Bath Streets haven't changed much in 50 years and while strolling downtown it's easy to imagine that this town has been forgotten by time. The area surrounding Montagu is rife with natural wonders - local rock formations in the stunning Cogman's Kloof Pass provide some of the best rock climbing and hiking in the Western Cape. Most of the town's restaurants and accommodation are located on Long Street and Bath Street (alternatively called Brown Street and Bad Street).

Ou Meul

Montagu is a hiking and rock climbing hotspot. There are three main hiking trails that depart from Ou Meul. The 2.2 km Lover's Walk (R11) will drop you off at the Avalon Springs Hotel for a swim. Bloupunt (15.6 km) and Cogman's Kloof (12.1 km) trails will take you the whole day (R18). Hiking maps are available at the tourism information office.

To get to Ou Meul, take Barry St north and turn left on Mill St. Follow Mill St until you reach your first right, Tanner St. Turn right on Tanner St and go straight until you see the Ou Meul, which has a big wheel out front. Rock climbers should be satisfied with over 300 bolted routes within walking distance of town.


De Bos

The guys at De Bos rent out climbing gear (R200 for ropes, harness, quickdraw and shoes), but the shoe selection is limited and bringing you own is advised. They also can provide you with a route map or you can download it from their website. If you're interested in a hiking or climbing guide, try Justin Lawson (023-614-3193 or 082-696-4067).


Hot Springs

Hot mineral springs are touted as one of Montagu's top attractions, but don't expect a peaceful or natural bath. This highly commercialized attraction pumps the 43 C/109 F mineral water from its underground spring into a number of modern swimming pools. Day visitors are restricted to the busy family pool section. Ask to enter the section of the springs reserved for hotel guests if you're craving a quieter dip.


Tractor Trips

Tractor trips by Protea Farm take you on a three-hour roundtrip climb to the summit of the Langeberg mountain range. Enjoy gorgeous views and a snack at a hut on the top. Protea Farm also serves a traditional South African lunch called Potjiekos (adult R90, child R35, student R60).


Montagu Cycle Hire

Montagu Cycle Hire can arrange bike rentals and owner Allan Brown can guide you through the six scenic trails available in the surrounding area.


Montagu Museum

Montagu Museum is housed in a 1907 church. Apart from the gorgeous building, this is a motley collection of town history, including old-fashioned wedding dresses, antique china and pictures from Montagu's devastating floods, predominantly the flood of 2008. Check out the wall of purchasable Khoi and San herbal remedies the museum has been researching for more than 20 years.


Joubert House

Joubert House is a 1853 farmhouse furnished with original pieces and displayed in the style of late 19th century country life. The house is the oldest in Montagu and was nearly destroyed in the flood of 1981, but was fully restored and opened as a museum with community support. The curator will give you a guided tour through the house for no extra charge.


Arts and crafts stores are all over town - the tourist information office can provide you a map that denotes where you can find them. Kohler Street has two antique and d├ęcor shops if you're looking for some local treasures.


Art Africa

Art Africa is just next to the tourism office.


Art Studio & Gallery

Art Studio & Gallery is just next to the tourism office.


Jessica's

Jessica's is a fine restaurant that doubles as an exhibition space for Montagu Art Association artists.


Montagu Books & CDs

Montagu Books & CDs is a quick stop if you're running low on used books or (mostly classical) music.


Budget

De Bos

De Bos is a picturesque farm located on the west end of town that is perfect for a rustic weekend getaway. The rural setting is complete with horses and a peacock, and it offers quaint private bungalows, en suite rooms and campsites. Most unique is the backpackers accommodation in the converted horse barn, which may be the nicest stable you'll ever sleep in.


Mystic Tin

Mystic Tin is a funky and crunchy backpackers and B&B. The owners are a friendly couple who have double their B&B venture as a home microbrewery. They offer free tastings in a large shaded garden perfect for lounging; try the honey or dark brew. A simple breakfast is included with the double en suite rooms. One of the rooms can accommodate a family or group of four for the price of a regular double.


Montagu Caravan Park

Montagu Caravan Park is the municipal caravan park located on the western end of town on Bath Street. The campsites are clean with braais, water taps and electricity at each site but this place seems to be more of a quiet destination for caravaning pensioners. A better experience might be had at De Bos located right beside the caravan park.


Mid-range

7 Church Street Guest House

7 Church Street Guest House has its main lodge in a restored Victorian home and four units located in the expansive back garden, with a swimming pool and a pond that attracts birds. The large and lovely rooms have spacious bathrooms, percale linen and high ceilings.


Montagu Country Hotel

Montagu Country Hotel is the only authentic art deco hotel in town. Though it looks a little worse for wear, the kind staff, comfortable rooms and lush garden make it a fine place to stay. The luxury rooms are attractive, and the Victorian Villa built behind the main hotel in 1905 is spacious, light and airy. For those looking to be pampered, there is a wellness center that offers massages and aromatherapy.


Top-end

Mimosa Lodge

Mimosa Lodge was built in 1859 and is now a national monument with a top restaurant located on the ground level. Standard rooms on the upper level of the main lodge are lovely, but you'd do better to request one of the more recently built rooms behind the lodge in the rambling garden. These are tasteful, modern and airy and some of the best accommodations in town.


Avalon Springs Resort Hotel

Avalon Springs Resort Hotel offers guests exclusive 24-hour access to the nicer section of the hot springs as well as an indoor pool, luxury spa services, a full restaurant and three bars. The one-stop resort does its best to cater to the whole family and offers many diversions for kids and parents alike. The hotel rooms are plagued by a tacky colonial motif and there are arm chairs oddly placed in the bathrooms, but the new Mountain Chalets have more updated, sleek furnishings, a full kitchen, and your own private Jacuzzi.


Die Stal

Die Stal serves incredibly delectable and fresh food, right off of a farmhouse porch in a citrus orchard. The large menu includes freshly squeezed fruit juice, a ploughman's platter that is to die for, and a board of daily specials. You'll find Die Stal 8 km north of town on the R318 and know it from the roosters roaming the yard.


Jessica's

Jessica's is a family-run operation with a surprising Asian bent. In the intimate dining room or the romantic back terrace, you can't miss the proprietors' incredible attention to detail - from perfectly piled mashed potatoes to lap blankets for chilly nights. Game is served tender and perfectly sauced; The Panaeng curry is delicate with vegetables that taste straight from the garden. During the day, Jessica's doubles as a gallery for local artists.


Templeton's @ Four Oaks

Templeton's @ Four Oaks was rated by Eat Out as one of the top 20 restaurants in South Africa. The small menu features artful new twists on traditional local dishes and Cape Malay meals. The intimate dining rooms are flanked by paintings and the leafy courtyard is charming. There is also a small cocktail bar where you can enjoy an aperitif or digestif.


The Docks

The Docks looks more like a swinging Floridian retiree's house than a serious eating establishment. Pop in if you want to groove to some Elvis ballads while lounging on patio furniture around the pool. Perhaps more thought was put into the music playlist than the food, so don't expect more than your grandma could whip up.


Mimosa Lodge

Mimosa Lodge is one of Montagu's finest restaurants. The menu changes each day but the food is consistently good. Guests are welcome to arrive at 7pm for an aperitif and the set 4-course meal starts between 7:30-8pm. The food is slow-cooked and combines fresh local produce with a high quality meat or fish. A new wine is paired with each course.


De Oude Kombuis and Rambling Rose Farm Stall

De Oude Kombuis and Rambling Rose Farm Stall is a farm restaurant in the center of town. The country dining room serves up fresh-baked bread, savory pies, tramezzinis and salads with ingredients picked from right outside.


Bella Monte

Bella Monte is a local haunt, usually full of neighbors flirting by the lightly stocked bar or watching the TVs stacked precariously atop stools on the countertop. The side room has a pool table and is sometimes host to live music.