One of the greatest benefits of running a company with offices in NYC and Cape Town is spending time in both cities. While I call NYC home, Cape Town, or the Mother City as it‘s referred to in South Africa, is really my second domicile. I‘m lucky enough to visit there four times a year and I now have wonderful business partners, colleagues and friends there. As many of you know, whenever I head to South Africa on these business trips, I try to squeeze in a visit to a hotel, bush camp, or safari lodge that we send clients to. This past weekend I visited a beautiful private game reserve near the Western Cape Cederberg Mountains, Bushman’s Kloof, followed by a visit to a stalwart favorite — my friend Julian Melck’s farm, Kersefontein.
On Saturday morning I awoke in Cape Town and headed north on the N7 motorway, up the west coast, to Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat, a beautiful private nature reserve set on 18500 acres of pristine wilderness. While not a Big-Five game lodge like those we often visit in the Greater Kruger National Park, Bushman’s Kloof is a terrific place to chill out and relax before or after the safari and Cape Town visit. With 16 rooms and a private, 2-bedroom villa (sleeps 4 adults + 4 kids), the lodge is an all-inclusive Relais and Chateaux property. Activities offered on premises include bushwalks amongst the wildflowers, visits to the numerous pre-historic Bushmen cave paintings, mountain biking, World-class spa treatments, and a lot more. While I was in residence, I noticed quite a few of the guests simply relaxing around one of the four swimming pools.
What I most liked about Bushman’s Kloof is the serenity that abounds. All the employees and guests have a placid calmness and air about them. After my 3-hour drive up from Cape Town, I felt myself immediately calm down upon arrival at the lodge. Upon check-in, I found the rooms five-star and the food was amongst the best I’ve had anywhere in South Africa. I honestly couldn’t find anything wrong with the property, other than, perhaps, the distance from Cape Town. The lodge does, however, offer charter flights from Cape Town, directly into the local airstrip. If your budget allows, I would definitely use this mode of transport for my next visit.
What’s the bottom line on Bushman’s Kloof? It’s a fabulous lodge that’s truly unlike any other in South Africa. The archeological significance of the area, coupled with a five-star operation, make it a winner.
Approximately 2 hours south of Bushman’s Kloof, and a bit closer to the Atlantic coast, lies Julian Melck’s working guest farm, Kersefontein. Julian is the farm’s 8th-generation owner and relies on cattle, sheep, wheat, and paying guests as his livelihood. I’ve brought tour groups and sent numerous individual guests here over the years, and in so doing, Julian has become a dear friend. Kersefontein is the perfect off-the-beaten path experience for the adventurous traveler who wants an experience like no other in South Africa. The nightly rate includes basic accommodations in guest rooms that are converted stables, farm activities, dinner in the Cape Dutch manor house dining room (typically with wild boar from the farm), and breakfast the following morning.
The food is delicious regional home cooking, lovingly prepared by Julian’s staff, who are de facto family members (their ancestors worked on the farm with Julian’s). Farm activities include hiking, horseback riding and visits to other sites in the surrounding countryside and west-coast of the Cape.
A visit to Kersefontein is perfect for those travelers who wish to have a true South African, farm-visit experience. And while it’s not the fanciest of level accommodation compared to many of the other lodges, camps and hotels we send our clients to, the personal interaction with Julian, on his farm, is an experience like no other. Any visit to Kersefontein is the highlight of my trip to South Africa.
By: Jeff Ward