Until May this year I had never set foot in the Western Cape, and so my visit to Bushman's Kloof, some 300km to the north of Cape Town in the foothills of the Cederberg Mountains, Bartholomeus Klip and Paternoster was as wonderful as it was long overdue. All three were fabulous but quite different from one another, must see spots that combine into an itinerary ready made for the seasoned South African traveller.
Drive north from Cape Town through stunning scenery for three to four hours and you will find yourself on the edge of the Great Karoo, its vast arid plains far removed from the lusher, greener environment at the start of your journey. You will also find the ‘wellness and wilderness retreat’ of Bushman’s Kloof.
Wellness in that it boasts exceptional food and a fantastic spa, so just the place to unwind and recharge the batteries after an exhaustive tour of the Garden Route and winelands. Wilderness in that you can walk for ever, search for some of Africa’s more unusual plains game (I saw Cape Mountain zebra, bontebok and a very surprised eland at very close quarters), and explore any number of ancient Bushman rock art sites that date back some 10,000 years but look as if they have been painted yesterday. The local guides’ knowledge was also unparalleled which only served to make the whole experience even more memorable.
The exclusive ‘country lodge’ of Bartholomeus Klip sits on a small farm beneath a spectacular mountain range in the Riebeek Valley. Most come here to eat, but there is still plenty to keep you busy between meals, including a private 10,000 acre nature reserve and some fascinating breeding projects for geometric tortoises, disease-free buffalo and quagga, a previously extinct subspecies of plains zebra. You can also walk, bike, kayak, canoe and fish on the nearby lake.
You wouldn’t go to Paternoster to lie on the beach, but there are one or two magical guest houses in this tiny seaside town just to the north of Cape Town and it's a great spot for seeing the Cape Wildflower display in September (as are Bushman’s Kloof and Bartholomeus Klip), eating delicious sushi or simply catching your breath in a stunning location.
Away from the Western Cape, I managed to squeeze in a quick visit to the newly refurbished Tanda Tula on my way home. One of the only camps to offer real luxury under canvas in South Africa, Tanda Tula is located in the private Timbavati Game Reserve adjoining the Kruger. And it is looking amazing in its new livery, with the game viewing exceptional as always. I was even lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Timbavati’s famous white lions."
Tania Buhlmann, South Africa, May 2015
Take a look at a video of Tania's trip>>