Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve: Our full report
East of Clanwilliam, between the Cedarberg Mountains and the vast plains of the Great Karoo, stand – to use ...... its full title – the luxurious Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat. The focus here is on this luxury, which combined with fine dining, service and a range of fairly gentle activities adds up to somewhere that attracts people who might not normally head for a mountain retreat.
One of the aims behind this 72km² wilderness reserve has always been to conserve and preserve the indigenous flora and fauna here. In 1992, when the property was bought by Bill and Mark Mc Adam, it was severely overgrazed. They reintroduced native species and tried to return the land to its original state. When the Tollman family bought Bushmans Kloof in 2004, they continued with the process. Today the land supports 35 species of mammal, including populations of the Cape Mountain zebra as well as eland and bontebok. There are also more than 150 species of bird including the African fish eagle and yellow-billed ducks.
Also of great interest here are the 130 or so San and Khoisan rock art sites, many of which are very well preserved. As part of Bushmans Kloof's interest in the cultural history of the Bushman, they have a Heritage Centre showcasing a number of Bushman artefacts including jewellery, hunting kits, musical instruments, dancing sticks etc.
In recognition of its historical and botanical significance, Bushmans Kloof has been declared a South African Natural Heritage Site.
There are various buildings within the grounds of Bushmanskloof, including the Manor House, which houses the reception area, with a gift shop next door.
The hub of the lodge is The Homestead, which has two tastefully decorated lounge areas, each slightly different in design. One has a very African feel; the other is slightly more contemporary; both have fireplaces, and one has a flat-screen satellite TV. The Homestead also houses a library and small business centre with wireless internet access, a bar area, a well-stocked wine cellar, and the Homestead 'fine dining' restaurant and terrace. The restaurant is a relatively formal, but still very homely and welcoming; the terrace is wonderful for warm summer evenings and overlooks the heated pool.
In addition to The Homestead, there are several other dining venues at Bushmans Kloof, all making use of the fruit, vegetables and herbs grown in the large garden:
- Makana (meaning 'to feast') is a beautiful open dining area where brunch is generally served. Constructed of stone, wood and thatch, the space is split level, divided by a low stone wall and some steps. The upper section is more of a lounge with large wicker chairs adorned with African print cushions, rough wooden tables and a fireplace at each end. Hanging on the walls are various Bushman artefacts. The open-sided lower level has heavy dark-wood tables with large rattan chairs and looks out over the gardens towards the Boontjies River.
- Embers offers you the chance to experience a traditional South African braai (BBQ) under the stars. Nestled into a natural amphitheatre amongst large granite boulders, the atmosphere created by the fire, lanterns and numerous candles is wonderful. The views across the valley are pretty impressive too!
- For a really special evening, you can pre-book Kadoro, an old, converted shepherd's cottage. There is no electricity here, just lanterns and candlelight, so it is ideal for a private, romantic dinner.
- For afternoon tea, the Manor House Deck, underneath large fig trees, is a great place. There is also the lovely River Boma, an idyllic spot for drinks at sunset.
- The luxury rooms have a colonial feel with high ceilings, exposed wood beams, dark wooden furniture and wrought-iron fittings. Twin or double beds are covered with muted bedspreads that match the curtains, the fabric printed with indigenous plants. Extras, such as tea- and coffee-making facilities, bathrobes, slippers and umbrellas, are all provided. The colonial style continues into the bathrooms where there is a pedestal bath as well as a separate shower unit. All toiletries are provided along with large fluffy towels. Each room also has its own private patio that overlooks the landscaped gardens.
- The deluxe rooms are similar in style but offer much more space, both inside and on the private patios. One of the rooms has a king-size bed and the others are twins. Each has its own lounge area either separate or within the bedroom, some with a fireplace. Other extras are flat-screen TVs, DVD players and iPod docking stations, and DVD players.
- One of the suites has a large private patio with views across the river and mountains, a king-size bed, and a separate sitting room with fireplace. The other, the Riverside premier suite, is a luxury cottage near the river. It has a private lounge with fireplace, a spa bath, and flat-screen TVs in both the lounge and the bedroom. It also has a spacious private patio with outdoor shower and infinity pool. Both suites feature the same 'extras' as the deluxe rooms.
- Koro Lodge is a private villa about 3km from the main lodge, and is ideal for families travelling with young children or groups of friends. It can accommodate up to ten people, depending on configurations. There are two luxury bedrooms, each with an en-suite bathroom leading to its own terrace (one has an outdoor shower), and a loft room with single beds that can accommodate up to four children. A separate living room with flat-screen TV and a selection of DVDs, games and toys, also has two single day beds and an en-suite bathroom. The villa also has a living room with dining area and fireplace, a fully inclusive bar, and a fully equipped kitchen. Underfloor heating, air conditioning, WiFi throughout and an infinity splash pool are some of the added extras. Koro Lodge comes with a personal host, chef and guide, and activities here are completely flexible.
The lodge also has four swimming pools (one of which is heated), a fitness centre and The Spa, which offers a wide range of treatments that can be taken either in-room or in special outdoor areas.
Bushmans Kloof is a beautiful place; the service, food and ambience are first-class; it's a very smart, luxurious place to stay. It can be a great place to do absolutely nothing, or a very comfortable base for a few days of gentle hiking and exploring of the Cedarberg Mountains. That said, some will find the levels of luxury, the formality of the dining, or even the price tag a bit too much for them.
Country manager: South Africa
- Namaqualand, South Africa
- Ideal length of stay
- 3 – 4 nights is recommended
- Bushmanskloof is approximately a three-hour drive from Cape Town. The lodge's gate is approximately 40km from Clanwilliam.
- Accessible by
- Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- Dining at Bushmans Kloof is of the finest. All meals are prepared with fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables grown in their organic gardens.
A light continental breakfast is available from 7.30am, but the main breakfast is usually served as brunch after a morning activity.
High tea is served between 4.00pm and 5.00pm in the summer months, and half an hour earlier in winter.
Dinner is usually served between 7.30 and 9.30pm. When we visited in May 2011, we opted for the BK fish and chips – line fish served with suma chips, fresh lemon, tartare sauce, soy and honey reduction with rooibos chilli sauce.
- Private villas & houses
- Bushmans Kloof ‘s Koro Lodge is an exclusive private villa. Located 3km from the main lodge at Bushmanskloof, it can accommodate up to ten people and comes complete with private staff. It is a great base to explore the Cederberg area.
- See ideas for Private villas & houses
- Bushmans Kloof Wilderness brings great luxury with emphasis on guest comfort and generous hospitality. Indulge yourself at the award-winning spa and enjoy delicious organic cuisine in special and unusual locations; Bushmans Kloof’s offers a first-class experience in a beautiful setting.
- See ideas for Luxury
- Attitude towards children
- Children under ten may not stay at the main lodge, but Koro Lodge is a perfect place for families with younger children.
- Generally recommended for children
- Yes – but only at Koro Lodge
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Bushmans Kloof
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.
- There is no cellphone reception at Bushmans Kloof, but all rooms are equipped with in-room phones. WiFi and fax services are available in the business centre.
- TV & radio
- Most rooms are equipped with satellite television.
Conservation effort to preserve the Floral Kingdom
Local teams at the Bushman Kloof Conservation Trust are relentlessly researching the environment and focusing on different species of plants and animals or even archaeology.
By taking initiative in multiple conservation projects, Bushmans Kloof Camp currently preserves one of the world’s largest privately-owned herds of Cape Mountain Zebra. The decision was made as a result of the species being under threat of extinction.
Due to sport fishing, the Clanwilliam yellowfish numbers saw a decline - hence the team now prioritises the re-introduction of this local species in three dams, going as far as laying gravel beds to help them swim upstream. The unique rock pools of Boontjies and Perdekraal tributaries are used for fly fishing during summer which is monitored through a catch-and-release rule to mitigate harm to the fish population.
The on-site nursery at Bushmans Kloof Camp fosters young Clanwilliam Cedar Trees - native to the Cederberg Mountains, with more being planted during an annual event held in May. Guests and local schools are encouraged to partake in this fun, but environmentally-focused celebration.
Overall, the camp tracks its impact on the environment by monitoring and reporting waste levels, making sure hazardous chemicals are stored securely. Conscious methods for annual assessment of roads, camp infrastructure and wildlife population are also implemented.
See more great sustainability projects in South Africa
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- The closest doctor and hospital are in the town of Clanwilliam, approximately 40km away.
- Dangerous animals
- Low Risk
- Security measures
- There are no guards on site at Bushmanskloor, but all rooms are equipped with electronic safes.
- Fire safety
- Fire extinguishers are placed strategically around the buildings
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- A same-day laundry service is available at an additional charge in most of the rooms, but is complimentary in the suites.
- Currency exchange is not possible.
- Accepted payment on location
- Cash in South African Rand, plus MasterCard, Visa and Amex, are accepted methods of payment.
Other lodges in Namaqualand
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