Visitors often ‘do‘ Cape Town in three days as part of a South African holiday, which is of course impossible. It also means you don’t get to venture into the further reaches of the Western Province and find special places like Bushman’s Kloof.
In the Cederberg Mountains, 4 hours (168 miles) north of Cape Town, is a wild-west movie set kind of place, with sand tracks of red-earth winding through giant wind-sculpted boulders. Perfect ambush country. It’s in this landscape that I found Bushman’s Kloof. Bushman’s Kloof reserve is a privately owned conservation success story, as a result of its protection of indigenous flora and fauna and its great store of historic bushman paintings. The Bushmen (now referred collectively as San) lived in these Cederberg Mountains many thousands of years ago, and left a legacy of rock art in caves and overhangs. This reserve alone has 130 ancient art sites dating back 10,000 years and the area has been declared a South African Natural Heritage Site.
But Bushman’s Kloof is not just of major cultural importance, it is also a safari destination, with more than 34 species of mammals including herds of pronking springbok, and rare,
endangered Cape Mountain Zebra (whose stripes don’t go all the way under the belly).
Safari here is not about looking at big game, it’s about looking at a slice of unique nature in this remote and strange land. A visit to Bushman’s Kloof teaches you to appreciate the beauty of nature and the small stuff.
Bushman’s Kloof reserve also has an astonishing 755 species of plants, because plant life here in the Cederberg, has to try harder to adapt to the difficult conditions. This has resulted in its great diversity.
In Spring (August-October), the ground bursts into life in a phenomenon found all the way up the Cape West Coast. Thousands of colourful flowers force their way through the sandstone soils and bloom in great brushstrokes of yellows, whites and reds. The open plains beyond the lodge are a sight to behold, with the little flower heads following the path of the sun, then closing tightly at night.
They chose to position the lodge and its seven rooms and nine private chalets, on the edge of these plains, which are fed by subterranean rivers. But all around are rocky crevices and ravines into which waterfalls tumble through amazing rock formations.
The Bushman’s Kloof accommodation experience is one of finesse, juxtaposing with the rugged exterior. It’s five star all the way; from the very comfortable and somewhat traditional colonial rooms and suites, three swimming pools, beauty facility & sauna, to the outstanding cuisine.
I was privy to a 10-course tasting menu (it could have been more or less courses of delectable mini morsels, but I lost count). Each little taster portion was exquisite, making me drool in anticipation of another mouthful, but then the next sublime course arrived. Each complimented the other, without any dish showing superiority, as they were all at the pinnacle of preparation, taste and presentation. Pairing wine with the food almost goes without saying when this much attention to detail as gone into a meal, and the combinations showed off South African wines to their full potential.
Bushman’s Kloof is not snobby, it’s just very classy. Kids are accommodated and there are lots of activities; mountain bikes, abseiling, hikes, canoes on the dam, sunset cocktails and morning buck’s fizz.