Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bushmans Kloof...Earthly Paradise!

The landscaping at Bushmans Kloof has been thoughtfully planned to complement and enhance the natural beauty of the area, creating an almost seemless transition from formal to natural. The estate is not fenced off around the Homestead and this invites exploratory amblings to be done at leisure and on a whim, provided your stay there is long enough! You really do need plenty of time to be able to fully participate in all that is on offer here!

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It is a Gardener's Paradise! So many lovely ideas to emulate, the plants are almost entirely indigenous and endemic to this area.  The abundance of natural rock and stone has been incorporated throughout the landscaping design. Meticulous care is given to the gardens and while we were there, the gardening team was actively pruning, planting and feeding the beds. Debbie, who practises indigenous planting in her own gardens had a long chat to the resident landscaper, a young woman of considerable knowledge. She made Debbie's day!

In addition to the aesthetic, parklike gardens, there is a large, organic food (fruit and vegetable) garden and nursery on site. Almost everything used in the kitchens is freshly and seasonally picked from these extensive gardens.

I had a couple of queries relating to the question of how we passed our time at Bushmans Kloof and one specifically pertaining to the daily High Tea event. I guess some of you may even have been under the impression from my last post that I'd spent most of it languishing in my Victorian tub or snuggled under the feathers on my kingsized bed. Far be this from the truth. Apart from enjoying the marvellous meals (unfortunately, I did not take many pictures at mealtimes...we were too busy chatting, eating and enjoying ourselves), we were treated to daily game drives, both morning and evening, in addition to an early morning visit to one of several caves on the property containing Bushmen Paintings. Carol also treated us royally to a couple of hours at the gorgeously luxurious Spa, where we were all thoroughly pampered from head to toe each enjoying a Hot Stone Body Massage, Foot Massage and Facial! Wow! Weren't we just spoilt rotten? I could happily adapt to such a lifestyle without batting an eyelid.

Time passes far too quickly in a setting such as this. We'd wanted to do one of the many hiking trails and also to have found some time to each paint a picture, using the thoughtfully provided artist's supplies. Even to have found the time just to sit in the gardens doing absolutely nothing, for an hour or two, in order to fully imbibe the splendour and spirituality of that remarkable location. Sadly, time ran out on us, long before we'd seen and done all there is to see and do...herewith, follows a sampling of all that we were able to do!

We enjoyed High Tea at 4pm each day...a delicious selection of both sweet and savoury treats served at Makana in front of a roaring fire! For another marvellously comprehensive post on the famous High Teas served at one of Cape Town's Premier Hotels, please do visit

One morning, breakfast was served in the sheltered, open-air restaurant appropriately named, Makana, meaning 'feast'.. The next day was raining and so we were treated to breakfast in the Homestead, instead, which is furnished superbly to reflect the old world charm and graciousness of a bygone era. Please see the Bushmans Kloof website to view their comprehensive gallery, as I was not able to photograph everything...we were far too busy being entertained! We also had one of our two graciously served evening meals at the Homestead (I'd forgotten to take my camera to record the occasion!). On our last night, we were treated to a wonderful experience...a candlelit buffet served at a beautifully laid table in an intimate Shepherd's Cottage beside a roaring fire (that time, I had my camera, but the battery went flat!) I managed to get a couple of really bad photos using my mobile. I'll include the best one...
The Shepherd's Cottage, beautifully lit and decorated for the eight of us (four other guests, Jaco, our Game Ranger/Guide and the three of us)...we had a magical was raining hard outside and the warmth of the  fire and enjoyable company within this cosy cottage made it a truly memorable occasion. The photograph above in no way does the scene justice! Afterwards, we all pulled on our padded ponchos and bundled back into the Landrover, with the roll-up, canvas windows drawn down securely and we sat in snug silence, comforted by the delicious meal we'd eaten and relaxed by the wine and happy conversation we'd enjoyed. 

Returning to daylight at the Lodge again...

This was the casual display on one of the large servers at Makana...

Looking into the's actual scale is not apparent from my photograph...

We sat on the upper section...there are two large fireplaces, one on either end...we had one of the two to ourselves for the duration of our stay! Being the "Off-Season" period, the guest numbers were very low. In-season, the maximum number that can be accommodated is 40. While we were there, there were only 7 of us, so we really had it all to ourselves! The staff complement is 110. 7 Game Rangers, 5 Therapists, chefs, waitrons, cleaning staff, a fulltime landscaper with her gardening staff, plus reception and management staff. The atmosphere is professional and yet at the same time, quite charmingly 'homely' as several of the staff are partners, which the owners (the Tollman family) apparently encourage. So, there's a wonderful sense of 'permanence' and everyone works together harmoniously to make each and every guest feel utterly special! On all levels, the service, accommodations, cuisine and setting is faultless. Every request is taken care of courteously and promptly and you really feel that each and every member of the team has the best interests of their guests at heart. That the owners have successfully achieved this careful balance is quite remarkable and it's evident all staff are treated well. A happy employee makes for a happy place and happy guests!

A lovely waterlily pond is situated alongside the Boma...isn't this just the most perfectly appealing view! I cannot describe the utter contentment we felt gazing out upon such a tranquil and lovely scene!

The large dam was teeming with waterfowl... the overhanging trees were a hive of busy activity with weaver birds either building new nests or servicing their young in established nests...such a delightful accompaniment to our wonderful High Teas and breakfast!

This chandelier is huge...I was unable to capture the scale.

The tall, sturdy supporting poles of the Boma are wound tightly with thick rope, creating an attractive feature on their own...the view across the garden at the far end, opposite to where we were accommodated. The suites here were being newly refurbished with bathroom fittings in readiness for the next season, post winter.

Another view from the Boma...isn't this ever so enticing! These recliners are facing a lovely rimflow pool (see below) and are juxtaposed against the ever present, but ever changing, according to the light and time of day, richly coloured backdrop of Cederberg night, these are lit up with a soft white light and the effect is breathtaking!

A basket of fresh towels awaits anyone brave enough to test the chilly water! There is a heated pool up at the Homestead in addition to the coldwater pools situated throughout the extensive sweep of gardens.

Walking back from the Boma to where our suites are situated at the far end of the gardens, we pass these magnificent Natal Ficus specimen trees, accorded pride of place within the specially created deck...not indigenous to this area, these trees are estimated to be in excess of 150 years old. They are huge and dwarfed us! Just look at the spread of that canopy!

Their intricately woven aerial roots are works of exquisite beauty, not one grouping identical in shape or structure to any of the others...

Needless to say, I took several pictures!

Still strolling across the beautifully manicured lawns towards our suites, each section of garden is designed to suggest separate rooms, each one seemingly more lovely than the one before or the one after! Recliners are strategically placed to encourage guests to sit and gaze upon the awe-insipring beauty of the distant vistas beyond the gardens...

A place to sit a while, to feel the gentle breezes and listen to the humming, soothing sounds of ever-present nature...crickets chirping, frogs and birds singing, bees buzzing! Surely this was the life intended for us all?

Water lapping gently over the edge of one of the pools in the breeze...

Such perfection!

Huge tree aloes stand out as sculptural forms in a broad bed of white ribbon bush...
Vying with the man-made sculptural forms carefully placed to deceive the eye...are they real? you find yourself step closer to confirm for yourself that they are indeed bronze sculptures.

Even the graceful, arching thorn trees overhead beg to compete for your attention! There is such a lot to see and take much enjoyment to be had at every turn! This lovely Lodge has ensured the revival of each guest's world-wearied spirit, allowing one to tap into the natural rhythms of this ancient and beautiful landscape...the very place that is thought to have seen the birth of mankind. Modern man cannot help but stand in contemplative awe of this imposing yet utterly peaceful place!

In the end, the candlebra-like aloes have the final say, as we head out into the bush for our first game drive with our highly competent Game Ranger, Jaco. His considerable expertise and natural affinity with the surrounding landscape belie his youthful age. He is gifted with a delightful sense of humour and kept us enrapt with his stories.  Sadly, this was Jaco's final month after seven years of dedicated service...he will be returning to help with the operational management of the family farm.  I suspect his loss to Bushmans Kloof will be great!

Our Game Ranger, Jaco, taking us through our paces...I'd wished I'd had a digital voice recorder, as he imparted such a wealth of information. As an Ecologist, he evidenced great understanding for the system and was not stumped once by the many questions we are posed to him.

Bushmans Kloof is home to no fewer than fourteen different species of game including several small and large buck and antelope, zebra, leopard, lynx, antbear, rock rabbits, hares and jackal. Bird life is abundant and varied and includes owls and other birds of prey. There are also several ostriches.

These are Springbuck, the South African National Antelope after which our National Rugby playing side (the Springboks) is named. 'Springbok' is the Afrikaans equivalent of springbuck.
Painted with the brush of wintery sunrays, these buck and the restio grasses behind blend into a breathtakingly beautiful tapestry of reds and golden browns.

The slant of light is different at each spot we stop at...imparting a sense of experiencing different times, spaces and landscapes, yet all at the same time and place. It is all so very real, unfolding right before our eyes, yet feels so unreal, almost as if we're viewing it all from a dreamlike state.  

Our jeep was open sided, but had canvas dropdown 'windows' which were used on our last evening, when the rain came down in torrents! Winter is the rainy season...soon these bare open plains will be lush with new grazing for the animals.

We had some good sightings, but it wasn't easy to capture them, as they tended to be rather skittish and uncooperatively moved away each time our cameras were pointed in their direction. I suspect they are bored with being oggled!

The chill factor was significant...we were snuggly covered by our courtesy ponchos!


This lovely dam is the larger of two dams occurring on the property and is fed from a permanent spring that starts in the mountains.  It therefore never dries up. All of the water at the Lodge is sourced from here and, during the height of the hot, dry summers, when the waterholes are little more than muddy puddles, water is pumped from this dam to top them up.

On our first evening, we stopped at the dam to have 'sundowners'.  Jaco had a selection of drinks on offer, but we all plumbed for his hot chocolate with a tot of Amarula Liquer added to our mugs, in true African style :) It was deliciously rich and warming!

Here Carol and Debbie are placing their orders!

I am modelling my snug, Basuto blanket-lined, waterproof poncho, provided courtesy of Bushmans Kloof for the use of guests taking game drives...we really needed them! It had a hood, but I'd slipped it off for the photograph.
We stayed beside the water's edge until 'last light' was incredibly peaceful! In the morning, we returned to the dam and enjoyed a light breakfast of rusks, muffins and mugs of hot coffee prior to making our way to the caves to see the rock art. We returned to Makana just after 10am to be met with a deliciously indulgent hot breakfast, served to us at our comfortable table, while seated snugly in front of the fireplaces.

In the evening, while enjoying our 'sundowners' beside the dam, we were silent witnesses to the many waterfowl slowly making their way across the watery surface to their nesting now, the frogs had set up their nightly chorus and they were competing with the crickets for our attention.

We all stood in absolute awe, silent before this mesmerising scene...gazing wistfully at all this beauty...I know I was wishing I could remember the sounds, sights and smells for a long, long time afterwards!

Goodnight All! Sweet dreams...TO BE CONTINUED!


  1. is like a

  2. Desiree, What a wonderful time you had. The delicious looking food on the plate made my mouth water. Seeing the animals and all the great vistas was such a treat! The tree with the arial roots is amazing!

  3. You my friend are an artist! These pictures litterally took my breath away! It makes me wanto to grab my crappy little camera and run out to antelope island and snap away. Unfortunatly it's the wrong season to go out there and we would be eaten alive by gnats and bugs. What a wonderful trip you had.

  4. Oh my goodness I so want to visit this place, I do hope they appreciate what excellent publicity you are giving them!

  5. Incredible scenery! Just lovely. (The food looked great too!) Thanks again for taking us along!

  6. I am enjoying this travel tale very much. It's all about a part of the world I'd never thought I'd like to visit - but discussing it with our travel buddies.

  7. Thank you for the delightful pictures and post. You should write a book reviewing different vacation places. Reading your posts is just like being there.
    Have a wonderful day!

  8. Wow, Wow, Wow and Wow!!! To use a word often used by me American bloggy friends, all those photos are simply AWESOME!! The whole thing literally takes one's breatyh away, and you are just so luck to be on such a trip, especially with such lovely company. The food looks to die for, and as for those Spa treatments - well, all heavenly! I'm running out of words here my little friend, so I will say cheerio again for now. But please know that I am so much enjoying this trip with you!!

  9. I forgot to mention that I have added your blog Badge to my collection.

  10. It is so far from the world the I know that I have a hard time imgining just how wondeful it must bee to experience a place like this. You are so very fortunate to be able to stay in such a natural wonderland.....kt

    And the answer to your question, (How are you doing? )
    will be posted on Monday, 6/20......kt

  11. Dear Desiree,

    I have no words to describe how wonderful everything you show us is!! Your pictures are so full of beauty!! I can totally understand you when you say this is a very peaceful place, as this is exactly the same feeling I had when I was reading your post. Thank you for sharing!!


    P.S. Thank you for your Paris recommendations too!!

  12. OMG Des You leave me speachless. It is hard to find words adequate to say how lovely your pictures were. I am soooooooooooooo happy you had that opportunity. I can't wait to see more.

  13. Desiree, You said it perfectly - Perfection! I've always wanted to have a hot stone massage. The food looks wonderful! (You see where my interest lies!)

  14. You just took me on the most amazing mini vacation. Oh thank you!
    The garends breathe taking. Andy yes! The bronze horses do look very real. I think I would have to come and see for myself.
    The food looks so very yummy.
    Each picture took me into a pardise where I was traspoted into each photo.
    Thank you so much.

  15. Wow....i'm lost for words....this is beautiful....thank you for charing it with us....
    Greetings Bianca xx

  16. Gosh you really have a knack for making your posts come to life. They seem to be experts at anticipating ones every need. That looks like quite a substantial high tea! I also love those ponchos - and it sounds as though you needed them. How on earth do you adapt to normal life after a trip like this?

  17. Oh my goodness -- what a gorgeous place. Thank you for all the wonderful pictures and commentary. I almost feel that I'd been there myself.

  18. Magnificent Desiree!
    It was incredible going from one photo to another.
    Just the scenery alone is so beautiful and relaxing, added to that it is such a well run resort.
    A truly wonderful place.

  19. Hola Desiree, this has been a wonderful ride into a really wonderful place to admire and be grateful for. Your images are really good and all the place looks much like our north part of the country.
    hugs dear


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