My Trip to Bushmanskloof Wilderness Retreat

Having decided it was time I ventured out of the city to explore again, I pulled out my detailed map of the Western Cape and picked a destination. Bushmanskloof Wilderness Retreat located in the northern Cederberg wilderness area was my choice.

Departing Cape Town at approximately 10h00 one morning, I headed north up the N7, the main route up the west coast, towards the Cederberg mountain area. Turning off at Clanwilliam and taking advantage of the last cell phone reception area, I made a quick phone call to the lodge advising them of my arrival time. I then headed east on some rough gravel roads into the Cederberg wilderness.

The Cederberg is renamed for its incredible sandstone rock formations, numerous bushman paintings and the increasing rare Clanwilliam Cedar tree, from which it gets its name. Encompassing some 71 000 ha of rugged, mountainous terrain, the Cederberg was proclaimed a wilderness area in 1973, and as such enjoys the highest possible conservation status. Take a look at this link to read more about this beautiful area.

Bushmanskloof Reserve covers an area of ​​7500 ha and has been proclaimed a South African Natural Heritage Site. It also forms part of the Cape Floral Region, a designated world heritage site.

After a beautiful 4 km drive from the main gate through the reserve I arrived at the lodge 3 h hours after departing Cape Town and was cheerfully welcomed by the staff. I was handed a hot spotted hand towel to wipe my hands and a cool refreshing iced tea, the main ingredient being the locally made Rooibos (Red bush) tea. Rooibos is an indigenous bush from which the caffeine free and tannin free tea is made. It is very rich in anti-oxidants and is farmed and produced in Clanwilliam. A quick orientation tour of the lodge helped me find my bearings, while my luggage was whisked off to my luxury room and my trusty little car taken to the covered car park.

Well, I wasted no time and after a quick bite to eat off the room service menu served to me on my little private veranda, I disappeared on one of the circular hiking trails into the surrounding craggy hills, the silence and peace calming my soul. I returned just in time to delve into the delicious goodies at high tea.

Bushmanskloof is spectacular! I would recommend a stay of at least 3 nights to give yourself time to really kick back and relax or to enjoy the many activities that are available to you. There is a general itinerary offered to clients that goes something like this:

Day 1:

Check in by 14h00

High tea at 15h30 – the table bears a large display of delicious mouth watering cakes and pastries

Nature drive at 16h30 – (17h00 in summer) – a drive around the reserve with your professional field guide to spot some game such as cape mountain zebra, red hartebeest, springbok, eland, bontebok, ostrich, black wildebeest, a prolific bird life and a diverse fynbos vegetation. Snacks and drinks are served on the drive.

Dinner at 20h00 – with pre dinner drinks in the bar. Keeping to the high standards that Relais & Chateau set for all their properties, Bushmanskloof offers superb gourmet dining. Not only is the food top class but they also have 4 different dining venues and each one creates an ambiance of its own.

Day 2

Visit to one of 130 Bushman painting sites in the reserve 08h30 – tea / coffee and a light breakfast are offered on the drive. Room service is available for early morning tea or coffee if you are like me and can not think straight until you have had your first cup of coffee.

Brunch at 10h30

High tea is served at 15h30

Afternoon nature drive at 16h30 or 17h00 in summer

Dinner at 20h00

As you can see, there is quite a bit of time in between the nature drives and visits to the bushman painting sites. You can either sit back and relax at the edge of one of the many inviting pools or enjoy something a little more adventurous such as mountain biking, canoing on the large dam and up the river, fly fishing or ordinary fishing, hiking, swimming. The lodge also offers archery and crocket on the expansive lawn in front of the lodge.

In the Heritage Center, there is a collection of San artefacts, and this is where the Rangers hold specialized talks on interesting aspects of the reserve and the Cederberg Wilderness Area.

Siyakha Mguni, a dedicated and knowledgeable Rock Art specialist, is the resident Archaeologist and Curator. His primary function is to record, document and research all the rock art sites in the reserve. If you would like more in depth information on the paintings in the reserve he will be happy to answer any questions.

The Spa at Bushmanskloof offers ultimate pampering with a selection of touch therapies, spa body treatments and skincare treatments for both men and women.

As all good things at some stage always come to an end, I reluctantly packed my bags and moved out of my comfortable room, my beautifully cleaned car waiting for me at reception. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at Bushmanskloof and hope to return in the near future. The friendly and super efficient staff made it a very pleasant stay.