27 September 2011 by Julienne du Toit

A Town of Lilies and Daisies

The little town of Leliefontein lies far from everything. It has no tourism nous at all. Just as an example, the sign to the town is only visible from one side. If you approach from the other side, you’d have no idea there was a town there, specifically because it is hidden among hills.

Almost every strange car to the region has to do a u-turn to get back to it if approaching from the south.

But during the flower season, it is a must-see destination. It is surrounded by flowers. The roads between it and Loeriesfontein this year were lovely beyond the speaking of it. So too the road that rose and fell among flowered hills all the way to Kamieskroon.

We’d heard from a friend, Johan van Schalkwyk of Northern Cape, that this former little Methodist mission named for the lilies around its natural spring was a town well worth visiting. We found a phone number in a brochure and got hold of a woman called Vera Engelbrecht. She said there was no problem.

But we anticipated problems. One does when planning an overnight stop in a place that’s not really on the tourism map. We’ve stayed in pretty rough places before, though.

To our surprise and delight, Leliesfontein has excellent accommodation. You can stay in a normal room with en suite bathroom.

Or. You can stay in matjieshuis accommodation, which almost everyone goes for. A matjieshuis, for those not in the know, is a small hut made with curved branches and mats made of reeds draped over. It is the most mobile of dwellings, cool in summer and snug in winter. In rain, the reeds swell and block the water.

In it, Vera and her 4 other friends who co-own and run the business, put proper beds and side tables and mats. This is an upliftment project funded by the National Development Agency, and I must say, I see a great future for the Leliefontein Lodge. I’ll definitely go back. And next time, I’ll be in one of the matjieshuise.

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