Situated on the warm Garden Route coast between Mossel Bay and George, Hartenbos is a cultural institution in South Africa. Today it is just as popular as it was when it was declared a settlement and accommodation in Hartenbos has expanded to meet growing needs. From self-catering complexes to caravan sites, Hartenbos accommodation caters to everyone. All that is required is a love of the beach and the sunshine.
Hartenbos began life in the 1930’s when it was designated as a holiday resort for the South African Railway and Harbour’s low-rung employees. The farm was later bought by the Afrikaans Taal en Kultuurverenging (Afrikaans Language and Culture Society) and used by its members as a summer holiday getaway during the Apartheid years. Almost one hundred years on, the town, while more racially integrated, is still a predominantly Afrikaans destination, quiet for most of the year and exploding in a burst of braais, sokkie music and beer over the December school holidays.
Owing to its niche market, or perhaps vice versa, Hartenbos is still the heart of many an Afrikaans cultural festival from the New Year’s Eve festivities to the massive Christmas day mass held in the stadium.
Hartenbos remains popular as it shares many of the benefits of other towns along the Garden Route. There are 5km of beach which make for good angling opportunities, and the Indian Ocean with its warm currents give the sea a pleasant temperature for swimming. The river mouth also offers a lagoon for more cautious water-babies and canoes on the water are fun to paddle about in. The lagoon is a breeding area for many seabird species too, adding a bit of biodiversity to the mix.
There is a waterpark complete with waterwurm (super tube) and heated pool. In the high season, the town flea market blossoms providing endless curio-shopping opportunities and the general vibe in the town is one of summer lovin’ – slip slops and children in swimming costumes abound with beach buckets and small nets tucked under their arms.
While accommodation in Hartenbos may not be for everyone, those who like it LOVE it, and with the warm climate, beautiful beach and fun summer atmosphere, it’s easy to why.