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No shortage of space, better weather and costs: Why tying the knot on a Karoo farm is a great idea

No shortage of space, better weather and costs: Why tying the knot on a Karoo farm is a great idea
Britstown – frontier junction to Kimberley or Upington. Image: Chris Marais

A frontier town where Karoo farm weddings are all the rage.

Lying at the crossroads leading either to the historic diamond fields of Kimberley or the riverside vineyards of Upington, Britstown has recently gained some romantic fame.

Tying the knot on a Karoo farm, where there is no shortage of venue, space or event options, has become a popular pastime. Why?

Firstly, there is the feast. This is the land of domestic goddesses who think nothing of preparing delicious food for dozens of people at a time. There are always caterers, and of course, Karoo lamb is best at source. 

Second, the weather. This is a semi-desert and it seldom rains. Or if it does, everyone celebrates and it’s considered excellent luck.

The joy of tying the nuptials on Sweetfontein Farm outside Britstown.

The joy of tying the nuptials on Sweetfontein Farm outside Britstown. Image: Chris Marais

The third factor is cost. A wedding in or close to a big city can run families from anywhere between R70,000 and R200,000. The venue hire and catering often account for around half of that. Karoo weddings are almost always better value (although there are some very upmarket offerings). 

About 20km from Britstown on the road to De Aar you’ll find Sweetfontein Boutique Farm Lodge which, on the day of a booked wedding, becomes an elegant venue that can cater for hundreds of guests, most of whom drive in from all over South Africa.

Their visit to Sweetfontein often opens their eyes to a much-unheralded form of tourism: the Karoo guest farm experience. Sweetfontein is one of a number of guest farms in the district, and well worth an overnight stay on your Karoo journey.

Britstown’s main road – rainwashed after a long-awaited downpour.

Britstown’s main road – rainwashed after a long-awaited downpour. Image: Chris Marais

The Transkaroo Country Lodge in the main street of Britstown.

The Transkaroo Country Lodge in the main street of Britstown.
Image: Chris Marais

Britstown itself comes with a number of entertaining accommodation options, in the form of the revamped Transkaroo Country Lodge and Vyfster, the former town jail.

Apart from its comfortable lodgings, the inner courtyard at the Transkaroo Country Hotel has become well known to travellers seeking an oasis from a long day on the road. 

Some of the cells of Vyfster have been converted into comfortable guest bedrooms, but the historic feel of a solid old Karoo country jail has been preserved. On many of the large cut-stone wall bricks, one finds a series of horse etchings, some of which are quite artistic.

Cell No 1 – fine lodgings at the Vyfster Old Jail.

Cell No 1 – fine lodgings at the Vyfster Old Jail. Image: Chris Marais

The famous ‘horse etchings’ at Vyfster Old Jail.

The famous ‘horse etchings’ at Vyfster Old Jail. Image: Chris Marais

A stroll down the main road of Britstown will bring you to Gentlecare, a remarkable museum-type shop and care centre for the terminally ill. The owners originally ran a general dealership on the premises, but then turned most of the grounds into a facility that offers sanctuary for more than 30 patients. Gentlecare is funded by international and local donors, churches, local farmers’ wives and the sale of branded enamelware from the shop.

Karoo-branded enamelware sold for a good cause by Gentlecare.

Karoo-branded enamelware sold for a good cause by Gentlecare. Image: Chris Marais

Where to stay

DM/ ML

"Karoo Roads", "Karoo Roads II" and "Moving to the Platteland" by By Chris Marais and Julienne du Toit book covers.

“Karoo Roads”, “Karoo Roads II” and “Moving to the Platteland” by By Chris Marais and Julienne du Toit book covers.

For an insider’s view on life in the Karoo, get the three-book special of Karoo Roads I, Karoo Roads II and Moving to the Platteland — Life in Small Town South Africa by Julienne du Toit and Chris Marais for only R720, including courier costs in South Africa. For more details, contact Julie at [email protected]; to read more stories on the Karoo, go here; for more information, go to Northern Cape Tourism Authority.

In case you missed it, also read Fraserburg and a prehistoric walk on the wild side with its fantastic fossils’

Fraserburg and a prehistoric walk on the wild side with its fantastic fossils

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  • jcdville stormers says:

    One of the most remarkable people I have met in my life, Mrs Gentle of Gentlecare.She gives Christianity a good name.Remarkable woman ,a Mother Teresa type.Harrowing stories of how they tried to close her down and made cases against her The goverment and hospital officialdom.Next to Gift of the givers she is the best example of “care for your neighbour and the sick and terminal.I am privileged to have met her.When they tried to close her down black, white, khoisan, all the different races of the town blocked the police and who ever.A shining example of how a South African should live !!!!

  • Marisa Honey says:

    We stayed over at the Transkaroo Country Lodge on a number of occasions in previous decades, and I assume it has probably changed quite a bit. But as charming as it was, two things stay in my mind – the sound of trucks travelling through the town all night long, and mosquitoes. But I guess that is what makes memories.

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