When: November 2021

Accommodation: Rhino Retreat Clarens

Highlight: Walks through the forest and nature trails

What's the story?

We were looking for a quiet mid-week getaway before the craziness of December started. Having been to Clarens several time before owning our dog we knew it would be a good destination providing we could find the right accommodation. 

Getting there

We came from Ballito so it was about 5 hours of driving. We left mid-morning and stopped at Linga-Lapa in Nottingham Road (their flat-whites at the Elula coffee shop are worth the stop). Linga-Lapa is a fantastic stop for the dog as there's a large grass field for them to run around. If you turn off the N3 and onto the R74 just before Winterton the drive is a lot slower paced but far more pleasant too. We also stopped at the Phat Chef Roadside diner just before Sterkfontein dam for a block of fudge and a quick dog run in the large garden. From here Clarens is a short but beautiful drive away past Sterkfontein and through the Golden Gate Highlands National Park.


After a few hours on we were lucky enough to find Rhino Retreat Clarens. They came up on the search results as "pet friendly" but one never knows what this exactly means. Shortly after booking the owner messaged asking if we were brining a dog - when i told her we were she seemed delighted and very supportive of our decision to travel with him. We arrived to a large 3 bedroom house with a great garden which is fully fenced. There was even a water bowl and blanket ready and waiting inside. It's one of those houses that feel very comfortable and modern yet doesn't feel as though you can easily dirty it or break anything. A perfect stay for our pooch. The house is also a short walk into town as well as the nature trails in the reserve.

Things to do

We are early-risers so enjoy either an early morning run or walk. The town is great for this (assuming you arent looking for too much distance). Just be sure to get back before the commuters start  as this is still a very active town and there can be quite a few cars and taxi's. During normal hours the town is made to slowly meander through it looking at the various items and art for sale...and of course coffees/teas and meals. There seem to be dog bowls for water wherever you look and everyone seems very accepting of dogs. There are a few shops that do not allow dogs in like fancy art galleries etc (for obvious reasons) but there are signs outside and usually a water bowl and shade outside to wait. Some highlights:  Artists Cafe which serves delicious comfort food and has a large grass play area where you can sit. The Clarens Brewery was also good for an early dinner - it was quiet when we went and although not the most comfortable for the dog to lie on concrete they brought him a dog bowl. While we were sitting having a coffee at Highland Coffee the owner arrived and gave our dog a big scratch and made a fuss of him and was quite happy when he jumped on the couch. 

For the more active pooches there is a fantastic nature trail around the whole town that is very well maintained and sign-posted. There are some easy options that are mostly in the forest close to town and then some proper hiking options that go straight up the mountain.

We ran out of time quite quickly but there are many other activities in the area so have a look at the tourism website listed below.


We would highly recommend this as a holiday for your dog and will definitely be going back again sometime soon.


Why we loved it

Clarens seems to have a dog culture
Great accommodation at Rhino Retreat Clarens
Restuarants mostly dog friendly
Can walk everywhere so not always in the car
Fantastic nature trails for walking/running