Exploring Bushmanskloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat, The Cederberg
Take the N7 to Clanwilliam, and meander your way for around 3 hours to enter a red
landscape that breathes out history in silent exhalations from its epicentre. A haven awaits at the other end where a dark, cool pond of water lilies nestles, juxtaposed against ancient rocky crags and vast spaces. Bontebok graze in the brush as do the Red Hartebeest with their back to front horns. Highly endangered mountain zebra cross the path and there are tracks of errant ostrich.
In the large dam you will find Clanwilliam orange fish. Rim flow pools offer cool respite
from the heat of the day and the birds keep you entertained with their endless calls and chirrupy chat. Huge trees frame the property and tea is taken in the shade of a giant Ficus.
Acid green Feverfew trees mark out pathways to elegant and discreet rooms which are sumptuously furnished and oozing African chic. Without doubt ultra luxurious and
beautiful, the rooms overlook an incredible indigenous garden. All around are the orange, red and white rocks, landscaped only through time and the earth’s changes.
After iced ginger tea and a quick tour of the grounds I realised how huge this place is and what an undertaking it must have been to transform what used to be a potato farm. Ancient San artefacts are kept in museum cases as the reserve holds some of the richest treasures in rock art in the country. My first encounter of the rock paintings was like seeping into an era of mystical ages where the spirits were only a breath away. The shamanic dance trance is so clearly envisioned in
these tiny, yet clear rock paintings that have remained steadfast for thousands of years.
Less than three hours’ drive from Cape Town, the lodge is located within an ecological oasis that is a sanctuary to many endangered species of flora and
fauna. It is recognized as one of South Africa’s Natural Heritage sites, and is
the proud custodian of over 130 pristine Bushman rock art sites - some dating
back 10 000 years.
The therianthrope, with an antelope body, and strange human like legs is the shaman’s mark, made 200 generations back to when this wild and rocky place was inhabited by the San, who created over 120 sites of exquisitely fine rock art on this 7000 hectare farm. The haunting art can transport you to another time and place, when herd of antelope and elephant would wander by.
The effect of the silence around you, punctuated by bird calls and heat, is intoxicating and one’s senses are heightened to the nuances of nature. Sunset brings the cricket and frog song to life.
There is no cell phone reception so there is no chance intrusion. This is time to relax
and absorb an evening game drive through the majestic landscape, or take a massage at a small thatched wellness centre overlooking a beautiful stream. Decadent afternoon teas complete the hedonism with the absolutely best cream and chocolate éclairs known to man.
Early morning brings a Mountain Chat for tea and a giant Kingfisher swoops over the
dam. Rooibos bushes grow randomly. A lone Eland watches from the distance and a pretty Gemsbok is close. We are heading for Elephant cave and more rock paintings. Before us have leapt caracal and San hunters at least 1500 years ago. I learned how fynbos protects itself in these harsh conditions, it turns red to prevent photosynthesis and I see little red pockets all around me. I wonder what the first
visitors to this land must have felt, like the McAdam men who saw visions in these rocks.
VOTED “NUMBER ONE HOTEL IN THE WORLD”
Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat has been voted the
Best Hotel in the World in the 2009 US Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards
reader’s survey. It also took pole position as Number 1 Lodge/Resort
in Africa and the Middle East.
The San believe that touch stone centres; the folds and random holes that appear in rocks, are portals to other realms, and the McAdam founders of this reserve knew they had found a touchstone to bring us closer together.
A cold swim greets the new day and the English tourist asks if the excess animals are turned into biltong and how long it is before you can eat an ostrich? “One and a half years” is the answer he is given regarding the ostrich but no excess animals end up that way. They are re-located in the quest for conservation.
At the riverside boma, you can sip a delicious vodka martini whilst looking upwards
of an evening. You will see shooting stars and satellites move their circular way through our atmosphere; the Milky Way a sparkle, silhouetted by the branches and leaves of the mystical Feverfew trees.
People from all over the world come here and the languages spoken before dinner are a test of geographical and phonetic acumen. Dinner at the open-air Makana restaurant is a culinary experience, complete with delicious wines including the best of the Bouchard-Finlayson vineyard (the owners of which also own Bushman’s Kloof).
You will definitely not forget this magical, mystical, mythical place…