Tucked away in the wilderness of the Cedarberg mountains is a place called Bushmans Kloof. It is in a majestic corner of the world steeped in geological and anthropological history, and bathed in natural wonder. is a place for meditation and quietude. It is a place of ley-lines, ghost stories, ancient cultures, and a landscape that sustains and protects a plethora of plants and creatures.
Ranger Diaries visited this multiple award-winning wilderness retreat, and this is why you should too:
Ancient Rock paintings
Bushmans Kloof is world renowned for its collection of rock art, a living portrayal of stone-age culture. There are over 130 rock art sites from the San people, many dating back over 10 000 years. These ancient messages, painted using animal blood, plant juices and ochre, provide a portal into the origins of mankind revealing shamanistic visions, tribal dances, and spiritual realms. Bushmans Kloof is recognised as a South African National Heritage Site.
The Cape Floral Kingdom (of which fynbos makes up over 80%) is the smallest of all plant kingdoms and yet has the highest concentration of plant species in the world. There are over 750 indigenous fynbos species found in the reserve, and the Bushmans Kloof guides are well versed in their medicinal and cultural uses. You could loose yourself for hours in these microforests of reeds, herbs, heathers, wild flowers and their intoxicating aromas.
Nowhere in the world is there a more dramatic floral display than in this part of the Cape. For a short period, if the conditions are right, coastal mists and precious rain help the region undergo one of the most dramatic transformations imaginable. Hundreds of different species of flowers can be seen here in the spring bloom, with over half of these flowers occurring nowhere else. With most of the flowers lasting only a few weeks, the competition to attract pollinators is stiff, and the resulting plethora of colour is simply breath-taking. Seeing zebra, eland, springbok and other animals against this backdrop would be a dream come true for any lover of wildlife.
If the aardwolf, a rare termite-eating member of the hyena family, is on your wish list, Bushmans Kloof will give you a fantastic chance of seeing it. Other special mammals include Cape and bat-eared foxes, Cape clawless otter, African porcupine, aardvark, and the rarely seen caracal and African wild cat, as well as grey rhebok, red hartebeest and the endemic bontebok. Bushmans Kloof protects one of the largest private herds of Cape Mountain Zebra in the world, an animal saved from the brink of extinction, as well as the rare and secretive Cape leopard.
What an incredible area for walking. Tannin stained tributaries of the Olifants River system flow through the reserve, cutting through the sandstone and creating crystal-clear pools. The 500 million year old Cedarberg mountains feature life-like natural sculptures and waterfalls. The air is sweet and pure. This is a place to reconnect with the earth, where time as we know it looses importance.
Other activities: Canoeing, fishing, picnicking, mountain biking and star gazing.
Special birds: Over 150 species of birds have been recorded at Bushmans Kloof, with Cape rock-jumper, protea and streaky-headed seed-eater, ground woodpecker, Layard’s titbabbler, ostrich, cinnamon-breasted warbler, black harrier and fairy flycatcher amoungst the ‘specials’.
We were lucky enough to see four large eagles during our visit: booted, fish, Verraux’s and martial! The dams in front of the lodges are fantastic for bird photography.
Awards: click here to see an extensive list of awards that few lodges would be able to match
When to go: As with most wild areas all seasons have their benefits. The winters here are cold, but have great advantages. It is a winter rainfall area, and this is when the Cedarberg is at its most dramatic with powerful waterfalls. Winter will also be your best chance of seeing the aardwolf, the cold forcing them to be more active during the day. The spring (August to October) brings with it the world renowned floral bloom.
Nearby wildlife highlights: Visit Lambert’s bay to see an incredible Cape gannet colony and stand a chance of seeing the beautiful Heaviside’s dolphin
Getting there: It’s a beautiful three hour drive from Cape Town through some breath-taking scenery