If it weren’t for the Addo Elephant National Park, Addo would still be an obscure little town off the beaten track, roughly an hour from Port Elizabeth. It really is something of a one-horse town, and locals use the police station as a landmark, rather than the town, which isn’t surprising given that it is almost the same size.
That said, it isn’t the town one comes here to experience. And the area between the town of Addo and the Addo Elephant National Park, which is a ten minute drive away, is filled with a series of restaurants, Addo accommodation venues and exciting places to visit that include any number of wild animals.
It is also the burial place of Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, beloved author of Jock of the Bushveld, who lived in the Greater Addo area during the latter years of his life, which lends the area an element of history.
Just outside town on the R336 is the Lookout, left to the National Monument Council as a heritage for all by Sir Fitzpatrick’s daughter and son-in-law. He was regarded as something of a valley pioneer and was not only responsible for encouraging British settlers to the area but was also largely responsible for the start of the Sundays River Irrigation scheme.
The Lookout is worth a visit for the views over the Sundays River and to explore the gravesites here that include Sir Percy, and his wife, Lady Fitz.
Just as you head out of the town of Addo there is a turnoff to the right, to one of the first farms in the area and one that is also a place of accommodation. Rosedale farm, an organically run citrus farm, is home to Keith Finnemore and his wife Nondumiso.
They are a charming couple who quickly make you feel at home in their thatched cottages, which use solar water heaters to heat water and are placed in the midst of an indigenous garden, filled with the cries of birds. In fact, as far as birds are concerned, Rosedale farm was to be the best place for sightings, other than Hogsback, on our entire trip, which Keith attributes to his pesticide free environment.
Keith and Nondumiso are fonts of knowledge and interesting to talk to. They’ve been farming for a while, helping to pioneer the growing of organic citrus in South Africa and are part of a group of organic farmers who provide largely to the overseas market but also locally.
Originally they farmed conventionally, choosing to convert in 2000 and began to supply the UK, EU and local market with certified navel and Valencia oranges, lemons and clementines by 2004.
Keith, who is passionate about what he does, provides a one-hour walking tour of the farm, which we unfortunately weren’t able to do (a reason to return!) taking you through his use of a combination of old farming methods and modern scientific techniques to grow food that is pesticide free and delicious, if the freshly squeezed orange juice served at breakfast is anything to go by.
Nondumiso was heard to mutter pensively that she doesn’t know what she will do one day when they retire and her immediate access to freshly squeezed juice dries up!
Breakfast is one of the highlights of staying here. Largely organic, a spread of fresh fruit salad, yoghurt, a range of cereals, muesli, home-baked bread still warm to the touch, and a delicious local farmer’s cheese lie set out like a feast below a bright painted mural of sun-ripened fruit.
A cooked breakfast of eggs, bacon, fried tomato and mushroom follows this, if you so choose, and the day gets off to a more than satisfied start, regardless of what you are doing. This spread is served in a large room that adjoins the kitchen of the old farmhouse, where comfortable wooden chairs and tables make dining a complete pleasure.
Whilst we stayed here we unfortunately weren’t able to eat our evening meals on the farm (if breakfast is that good, think of what dinner would be like) and so ventured forth to experiment with the few restaurants available to us.
Lenmore’s, which has obviously been around the block a few times, might have been recommended to us but I’m proposing that you give it a wide berth. The décor, food and service are all reminiscent of the late 1970s, and we weren’t that impressed. Unless steak served with overcooked vegetables drowned in white sauce is your thing, try somewhere else.
Virtually next door however, a surprise awaited us in the form of Stable Cottages Café. The stylishly decorated café and wine bar are part of the Stable Cottages complex, six pretty cottages in East Cape style with private verandas and a central swimming pool.
The café’s menu was brimming over with the type of food one would expect to find in Cape Town – wonderful salads teeming with original combinations such as springbok cappaccio and citrus dressing, and smoked salmon and creamy fennel dressing.
Despite the temptation of a salad, we had the herb wraps with small white bean salsa, crème fraiche and rocket, and the soya honey glazed chicken breast on stirfried egg noodles.
There is also a kiddies menu, complete with chicken nuggets or hamburger with chips and there are pizza evenings on a Wednesday and Friday. Desserts included a chocolate mousse cake with icecream and a baked cheesecake with berry compote!
Rosedale Organic Farm +27 (0)42 233-0404
Stables Wine Bar & Cafe +27 (0)42 233-2462