Western Cape Nature Reserve and Game Lodge
The unique nature experience that Bosch Luys Kloof presents through the absence of artificial attractions, invites guests to appreciate and enjoy the beauty and tranquility - and they do it from the porches of their private chalets or on foot or by mountain bike or with our Land Rover drives or 4x4 routes!!
|Great Swartberg - Southern border||The Hell - Bordering on Southeast corner|
|Bosluiskloof historic pass - on site||Oudtshoorn - 110km|
|Seweweekspoort - 4km||R62 turn-off - 24km via Seweweekspoort from our gate|
|George - 170km||Cape Town - 330km|
'Karoo' is derived from the khoi language and directly translated means 'land of thirst/dry'. Similarly the word 'Cango' used widely in the area was the khoi name for the Swartberg mountains that translates basically to 'mountains of water'. Well this part of the Karoo has been living up to its name and reputation for a long time now, but finally on Saturday 8 April a shower of 21mm, with another 19mm falling the following afternoon quenched the thirst at Bosch Luys Kloof! In the 'Cango' mountains near Prince Albert, Thomas Bain's famous Swartberg PASS became IMPASSABLE. Luckily the Bosluiskloof pass was built mainly on shale rock and did not take any noteworthy damage and is passable.
Our river flowed for the first time in 15 months and the Karoo vegetation, as always, is quick to react to these favourable conditions. Within a week the otherwise grey bushes were covered in green shoots and many are now in flower.April 2017
Leopard on camera again
We have managed to capture another Cape Mountain Leopard on camera at Bosch Luys Kloof. Photographed around 20h00 on 12 April, the right hand side of the cat is in full view (head as well) this time but unfortunately it is hard to tell whether this is the same leopard previously photographed .The camera uses a PIR for night photography so four successive shots were possible with no flash shying the animal off.
This section of sparsely populated and unspoilt mountain wilderness is a haven for the Cape Mountain Leopard, and being such elusive creatures it comes as little surprise that author Justin Fox describes them as one of the 'Impossible Five'.April 2017
Heat & smoke waves
The severe drought in South Africa has added to extra high temperatures this summer. Since December 2015 temperatures are very much unpredictable.
The extended and widespread mountain and veld fires in the Western Cape had a definite effect even in our region.
There were no noteworthy fires on our side if the Swartberge but the warm air and smoke from the southern side, the Langeberge and as far as the coastal areas blew over to us. That lead to our valley not cooling down as much overnight as it would normally do.
What was really interesting was the movement of smoke filled air through the two Poorts - Seweweeks & Gamka - into our region. On some days we thought our mountain areas were also on fire.
On the positive side our impressions of the effect of the two Poorts is now confirmed. They form a kind of wind tunnel that sucks in air from the south and spread it over our valley.March 2017
Elusive leopard caught on camera
We finally have our elusive leopard on camera! In the early hours of the morning on 5 February what looks to be a female Cape Mountain Leopard was caught on our camera trap approaching a baboon carcass. Leopards are opportunistic cats and will feed on carrion.
Our nature guide / manager came across a "not so well looking" large male Chacma Baboon on an afternoon drive at one of our waterholes. The following day the baboon was found dead at the same spot. He moved the carcass a short distance from the water and set up his motion camera. That same night he captured the leopard on camera.
Have a look at the photo on our photo gallery on the web - nr 62 & 63.
The Cape Leopard is extremely shy and is almost never seen during daytime. But they are everywhere in the Western Cape! Fortunately there is no record that they have ever attacked the human species!February 2017
After a two year stretch at Bosch Luys Kloof Derick Theron has, as chefs do, moved on to tackle a new challenge. We wish him all the best in his career ahead and trust that his new clients will be equally as impressed with his culinary skills as the guests at Bosch Luys Kloof were.
Our new chef is Hilda Albertyn, an enthusiastic single lady with a wealth of knowledge and experience. She is nicknamed “Vere” (Feathers in English). Her mother sparked her enthusiasm at a young age, with 30 years of catering experience herself, and the love of food has played an integral part in her and her families life. She did her formal training at the renowned Warwick chef school at Hermanus in the Western Cape. She has worked as chef at amongst others Laborie (KWV, Paarl), La Fleur (Paarl), Feedem Food Services etc. She has also worked for two years as chef in England where she specialised in pastries. Vere has a thorough knowledge of the kitchen, kitchen stock and food management. We look forward to our next interesting phase with her!
Gerhard & Ans - ownersFebruary 2017
Strange Honey Badger behaviour
You can spend months even years in a given area without seeing certain species more than a handful of times, others you will never see. Our guide recently acquired a trail/motion camera and was extremely lucky on his first placement to capture not one but three mature honey badgers in a valley that seldom sees any human activity. The camera uses PIR (infra red) rather than a flash to photograph at night. A flash will often frighten animals off, making a second shot impossible. We were lucky enough to capture a series of photographs of the three badgers, possibly two males tailing a receptive female, as they set about their nightly activities. Honey Badgers are usually solitary, but will band together to mate, so to have evidence of three adults together is exciting. See photo's 60 & 61 on our Gallery page.December 2016
Bosch Luys Kloof pioneer trekkers!
Ed Meyer and his son in law, Chris Das, visited us recently. Ed's great grandfather, Carl Meyer and his wife Hanna, trekked from the Amalienstein Berlin Mission station in 1878 into the vast hinterland to start another mission station in Kimberley. Carl's father, moving here from Germany, started the mission station in Amalienstein in 1858. Carl, married Hanna Dietrich in the beautiful old church that is still the Lutheran Church in Amalienstein today!
They trekked to Kimberley in 1878 soon after the wedding, starting with an 18 ox-wagon. The Seweweeks Poort wagon route was completed in about 1864 and the Bosch Luys Kloof pass shortly thereafter.
Hanna was known as an adventurous lady who wouldn’t shy away from any new adventure. It is written that they thoroughly enjoyed the trek through the beautiful but rugged partly tamed Africa. At the confluence of two rivers (probably Gamka Poort Dam today) they parted with the oxen that had to return to Amalienstein and trekked on with a then "converted" mule wagon, pulled by 10 mules! To travel this same road today and to think about that very adventurous journey by oxwagon, was a nostalgic and emotional experience for Ed. That did not stop him from enjoying the visit and some good wine!October 2016
More about birding - Young enthusiasts!
We have been visited by the Buckham family earlier in the month. Apart from being fantastic guests two of the young guys, Thomas (13) and Adam (11), managed to list 63 bird species within their three day stay! Only two very experienced previous guests achieved a 60+ count.
Well done again guys!!
Birding is enjoyed by the family - during the visit their father was on a birding expedition in Panama!October 2016
A year for reptiles?
With a contagious admiration for nature the two Buckham boys who spotted and identified 63 different species of birds (see above) during their recent stay at Bosch Luys Kloof also photographed and identified a number of reptile species including Cape Cobra, Leopard Tortoise, Western Rock Skink and Western Three-striped Skink, Spotted Sand Lizard and Namaqua Sand Lizard and Southern Rock Agama during their stay.
John Huishamen from Cape Nature, who was cycling from Prince Albert to Seweweekspoort came across a Little Karoo Dwarf Chameleon crossing the Bosch Luys Kloof road in early October, and our nature guide spotted two different rock monitor lizards on three consecutive guided drives with guests in different locations on the reserve. Thusfar all good signs that the summer ahead will be one for the reptiles books!October 2016
We were visited by Vernon Head, the chairman of BirdLife South Africa, and his family in early September.September 2016
He wrote back to us -
"You should tell guests that it is possible to see over 40 species from the deck of a chalet! My final count from the front deck was 42 species, 39 of which were seen in two hours while having coffee on the first morning! This does not happen even in the Kruger National Park!"
Vernon is the author of "The Search for the Rarest Bird in the World", published in 2014 and worth a read.
His total spot over the three days was 65 species!
The Bain Connection
In 1862, Adam de Smidt completed construction of the route through Seweweekspoort, down the now historic and breathtaking Bosch Luys Kloof pass and on through Bosch Luys Kloof valley to Prince Albert. His brother-in-law, the man with the theodolite eye, Thomas Bain and his friend Dr Atherstone travelled along this road in 1871. In July we were thrilled to host the Bain family; Peter, Alison, Elizabeth and Georgina Bain at Bosch Luys Kloof. 145 years after the great mountain pass builder Thomas Bain travelled this road on horseback, his great grandson and his family travelled this road to Bosch Luys Kloof lodge…on four rubberized wheels. Both Peter and Alison are qualified pilots, and although they thoroughly enjoyed driving down their ancestors pass, suggested a suitable location on the reserve for a small runway…the theodolite eye seems to have been inherited.June 2016
Hiking, Trailrunning & MTB route - new
We are pleased to announce that we have recently completed a new trail for guests to enjoy. This latest one boasts some spectacular scenery, with viewpoints including one overlooking Bosch Luys Kloof River Canyon (one of our Big Five walks) and great views of Seweweekspoort peak (highest in Western Cape). There is a short circular version we have named 'Die Kruine' or 'The Crest' which is approx 4km, and then there is the longer version. We have dubbed this one 'To Moer and Gone', to compliment our 'To Hell n Gone' route ( The Beginning and The End ! ) The exact distance of this route from start to finish still needs to be ascertained, but roughly 10 km. A brilliant trail for both hikers and trailrunners alike, and dedicated possibly mountainbike (or downhill mountainbike) enthusiasts will be able to enjoy a few sections of the route on the saddle, though pushing or carrying will be necessary over other sections. Come and enjoy this new route.July 2016
Our Big Five & fitness
A German couple, Dietrich and Isolde Stobwasser, had a wonderful and very active seven night stay with us in February. Because they had the time on hand they have had the pleasure of visiting all five of our Big Five viewpoints - the first guests to achieve this in one stay! They also hiked two of our 4x4 routes, Shepherds Trail and the Ox Wagon route and joined in on a guided Land Rover drive with our manager, Bruce, on the last of our 4x4 routes, To Hell n Gone! In addition to all this they went on early morning walks before breakfast almost daily!
And------- they have reached the respectable age of seventy…the 'new' fifty!February 2016
Ford and the humble Gecko
Geckos frequently occur in thatch roofed houses. So they love Bosch Luys Kloof! Keeping unwanted insect numbers in check, they can be fun to watch…and now the mighty Ford Motor Co of the world is turning an interested eye towards them too!
Ford has been trying for years to find a solution to a re-cycling problem. The space between the often plastic interior parts of a motor car are filled with a type of sponge, which has to be glued in place for adhesion.
To separate the two for recycling is impossible - glue residue always remains. So they are investigating all possibilities to adhere the sponge to plastics without using glue, where the two separate easily when dissasembling.
In comes our Gecko! Ford has found that a gecko's toe pads need no moisture or surface tension to cling to most surfaces and also leave no residue!
So, through biomimicry, Ford is now developing a process to synthetically imitate the toe pads of Gecko's!
From : "Environment"February 2016
We hosted a freelance travel blogger and avid trailrunner at Bosch Luys Kloof recently. She crammed as many activities as possible into her short stay with us. On her day of arrival, a cycle trip to and back from Zoar (R62 turnoff) through the iconic Seweweekspoort and a guided nature drive through the reserve. Acclimatized, the following morning she did a trailrun along a shortened version of our Shepherds Trail 4x4 route before breakfast, and cycled to the Gamkapoortdam and back afterwards, managing to fit in some R & R upon her return to the lodge. The following morning before breakfast she trailran our challenging Wagon Route to Beaufort 4x4 track before breakfast, in 1.5hrs…a round trip which takes hikers up to 4hrs to complete from the lodge, and can take longer in a 4x4!
She rated Bosch Luys Kloof as a destination with wonderful MTB & trailrunning opportunities. Confirming the views expressed by other guests.
We are planning to open another route in 2016 that promises to be spectacular.
Keep going Taryn !!January 2016
Mid January our guide accompanied by four British guests paid a quick visit to our 'Wedding Koppie' to watch the sunrise on an early morning drive. Much to their surprise, they had just reached the top of the hill when a honey badger trotted slowly and defiantly past the front of the Land Rover. From their vantage point they were able to watch this tenacious little guy lope off down the hill and cross the road below before dissappearing behind a rocky outcrop. Honey badger at Bosch Luys Kloof is a rare sighting, especially in daylight.January 2016
After a few days of intense heat and a hot beginning to 2016 in general, the clouds finally decided to break over our mountain fringed valley. On 23 January following a hot and humid morning, 44mm of rain bucketed down on Bosch Luys Kloof (measured at the lodge) within the space of half an hour! The Bosch Luys Kloof river came down, the Karoo Gold (Rhigozum obovatum) bushes were covered in flower within the week, and the air was filled with that beautiful smell of a wet Karoo!January 2016
The sweet thorn (Acacia karroo) thickets are now yellow with blossom and the kudu bulls are moving amongst the cow herds at Bosch Luys Kloof. The bulls do not walk with the cows year round, but rather form bachelor groups for most of the year. They often move into the less frequented valleys outside of the breeding season, but from as early as October, and often until as late as April one stands a good chance of seeing some of the larger bulls walking with groups of cows in the river valley. The acacia seed pods provide power fodder for the kudu and the peak of their breeding period often coincides with the fruiting period of the sweet thorn.December 2015
A hot December
'It's hot as Hades'…goes the old saying. Well this past December was a really hot one here next to "The Hell"! During December 2014 the mercury rose above 35°C only six times, December 2015 we had no less than fifteen days of temperatures reaching 35°C +, with the hottest day measured at 42°C in the semi-shade! The afternoon of 31 December offered some relief with 4.5mm of rain falling which brought the total for 2015 to 135mm, as a whole a very dry and warm year.
Our guests still enjoyed themselves as can be seen from the comments on our web and Tripadvisor. Our early mornings and late afternoons / evenings still very enjoyable as always.January 2016
We noticed a fresh leopard spoor a couple of weeks ago on one of the drives through the sandy acacia and ganna veld along the dry Bosch Luys Kloof river bed. And behold, on 1 January 2016 returning from a late afternoon drive with seven guests the leopard showed herself! About one kilometre from the lodge shortly after viewing a group of kudu and a single red hartebeest with the spotlight, a pair of reddish eyes peered back at the group on the Land Rover from quite high up a north facing rocky slope. We stopped and watched a leopard, shoulder blades pointed upwards as she crawled, coming slowly down the slope and dissappearing amongst the acacia thicket.
The Cape Leopard is very shy and to spot them is a great experience, even to us.
Bruce - Manager & nature guideJanuary 2016
A regular summer visitor to Bosch Luys Kloof is the Didericks Cuckoo, a beautiful little bird but also a parasitic egg layer that targets amongst others the Cape Sparrow, Cape Wagtail, Red Bishop and Cape Weaver as a host species to incubate its young. Usually only one egg is laid in the nest of a suitable host species and one of the hosts eggs is also pushed out of the nest. The female lays even different sized and coloured eggs to imitate that of the hosts egg. The incubation period of the Didericks Cuckoo is always shorter than that of the host and the moment their chick has hatched it evicts the other eggs and enjoys the full attention of its adopted parents - with a plentiful supply of food! This emerald and white coloured bird can be seen early in the morning around the lodge from mid-October to late November- usually being chased away by a hardworking host pair.
Dam levels dropping
The water levels of the Gamkapoortdam on our eastern boundary have dropped considerably and the farmers downstream are asking for more water to be sent downstream. When this happens, a temporary land bridge will form between Bosch Luys Kloof and the adjacent properties. This will allow any antelope that might have crossed our fence a chance to cross the land bridge and disappear for ever.
Following a number of unsuccessful efforts we have finally managed to 'drive' the red hartebees and gemsbok that had been visiting next door, back through the fence into the safety of Bosch Luys Kloof. A bit more difficult than herding sheep!
Making the most of your visit
Matthias and Tanja Sager from Switzerland visited Bosch Luys Kloof during October. Having booked a three nights stay they intended to make the most of their time here and experience the most possible of what Bosch Luys Kloof has to offer. They opted for an early morning drive with our nature guide on day two returning for breakfast and a guided walk in the late afternoon returning to drinks and a delicious dinner. For their second full day they decided to go for a guided walk after breakfast, and then a late afternoon sundowner drive. Because of the amount of time spend out in the open they were fortunate to see a great variety of "inhabitants" on the reserve and to learn a few things about this unique part of the Karoo. Amongst others, more or less in order of appearance, they managed to spot the following: Burchells Zebra, Gemsbok, Kudu, Grey Rhebok, Steenbok, Black-backed Jackal, Eland, Rock Hyrax, Klipspringer, Cape Cobra, Leopard Tortoise, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Common Duiker, Ostrich, Puff adder, Springbuck, Rock Monitor Lizard, Red Hartebeest and Small-Spotted Genet. The Sagers really made the most of their three nights stay here and we hope to welcome them back to Bosch Luys Kloof!October 2015
The past weekend of 2-4 October we played host to a number of cyclists taking part in the annual Seweweekspoort MTB challenge. With different categories to the event (20km, 40km and 80km amongst others) participants included mom, dad and children in many cases. An action packed weekend with two of our guests, husband and wife, ending 3rd and 2nd respectively in the 80km event. The families returned to the lodge after a day of cycling and nature drives to support the Sprinboks vs Scotland, and to get together for a delicious meal and social evening with friends.September 2015
Springbok lambs and ostrich chicks
Springbuck typically prefer plains and flatter areas, for which Bosch Luys Kloof is not famous. The springbuck here are mostly restricted to the area between the lodge and Gamkapoort dam. Another factor limiting their numbers is the reserves predators which make an easy meal out of the springbuck and specifically their lambs : jackal, leopard and caracal mostly. This year things are looking up for the Springbuck. In the past few days we have noticed at least two groups with lambs. The ostriches had an equally difficult time raising their chicks in the past. Until now only 7 chicks have been successfully raised to adulthood; if the baboons don't steal their eggs then the predators catch the chicks. One breeding pair now boasts 9 chicks, and this pair isn't letting anything go without a fight! Our guide saw the male bird fiercely chase two other female birds far away from his brood of nine pint sized bundles of fluff, while the mother stayed with the chicks.September 2015
2x2 taking on our 4x4 routes
Mark and Ashley Allderman from Cape Town and their two daughters, Rebecca and Caitlin, visited us in July.
Being a mountain bike enthusiast, Mark is used to using his two legs and two 27.5" wheels to explore nature and was keen to get stuck into some of the offroad trails the reserve has on offer.
As the To Hell n Gone 4X4 route has been conquered by many guests on mountain bikes, he decided to challenge the more challenging Shepherds Trail 4X4.
From the lodge, doing a round trip back to the lodge this route totals around 24kms, with around 14kms over some fairly rough 4x4 terrain, and the return along the main gravel road through the reserve.
Mark made it back in time for breakfast, smiling with a battle bruise here and there and rated this route as moderate and enjoyable.
The following day he took on our 'Wagon Route to Beaufort' 4x4 track, the most challenging of all our 4X4 routes( rating 5 ).
The full round trip starting and ending at the lodge is around 14km, with 9km along a serious stretch of 4x4 - and partly washed away by heavy rain in June .
Again he came back smiling - rating this route as challenging. He is the first cyclist visiting Bosch Luys Kloof to take on and complete both of these 4x4 routes on a mountain bike.
Well done Mark!July 2015
Early spring flowers
In June Bosch Luys Kloof was blessed with 50 to 110 mm of rain in different areas and this has allowed the veld to take on some colour.
Last year this area experienced a relatively dry winter resulting in very few flowers in spring, but this year promises to be a lot more colourful.
The Karoo Gold (Rhigozum obovatum) are already covered in yellow blossoms, Gazania spp are popping up all over and the yellow and purple vygies too are starting to flower.
Even the 'Kruidjie Roer My Niet' flowers are starting to bud. And all the grasses and annuals as a result of the rain mean that the grazers (Gemsbok, Red Hartebeest etc) which had been forced up the slopes in search of palatable grasses last year, are now able to roam more freely throughout the reserve.
A follow up rain will be fantastic.July 2015
Much needed rain has eventually fallen in June, and the veld is already greening up. Over various parts of the reserve we had between 65 and 110mm. The Bosluiskloof river ran full and strong and, with the addition of other tributaries and streams, certain roads etc. were naturally washed away! Nothing that can't be fixed however and a small price to pay for the welcome rain. We are blessed.
We have undertaken the layout of a new bushroad for the guided drives along the southern foothills of the Hartmansberg in the eastern section of the reserve. Below this road, slightly further north runs the Vlakte Pad (Plains Road - one of the few 'flatter' sections of the reserve), but this new road would be more aptly named 'Undulating Road'. There are stunning views and a few challenging sections which are bound to spike the adrenalin! The road reaches further into a stretch of the reserve that will allow for views from a different perspective.
We have transformed our salon, which wasn't the most practical use of the space, into a small reserve 'arts'-shop, where we produce and offer only authentic and carefully selected items. Also on offer are pieces inspired by the natural surroundings and from nature, created by the owners wife and staff. Worth a visit.
The hall adjacent to the lodge, originally intended for small conferences and functions, is being transformed into an information and recreation centre. Focus will be placed on providing some interesting facts and information about the area and its fauna etc. We hope to also specifically create an area where children can keep themselves entertained. The goal is that parents can spend time with their children, learning, and enjoying them in the process.
Our nature guide, Bruce Garven, has since been appointed as manager of the resort. He has proven his devotion to Bosch Luys Kloof and our guests in the past year and we are confident he will continue the good work. He has come to know the reserve well since his appointment as nature guide and his guided drives are especially popular amongst guests.
Elusive leopard reveals itself
On 6 April two of our staff members joined me for an extended hike in in the Bosluiskloof river canyon in the remote western end of the reserve.
The trees along the fringes of the river bed are lush and small pools of water are dotted along the river bed as in drier periods.
We walked all the way to the western boundary fence, flushed a juvenile African Fish Eagle, found four Hamerkop nests, saw Klipspringer and Kudu, countless Eland droppings AND a fresh leopard scat. The leopard scat was full of klipspringer hair. On the return we were pleasantly surprised to find really fresh leopard tracks in soft sand next to a small pool of fresh water.
A kilometer or so further on there was a troop of baboons moving around on the steep left side of the canyon. A movement in the shade of the Karee trees on the right side of the river bed caught my eye and I halted everybody. It was the unmistakeable hindquarters of a leopard passing right in front of us, not more than 15m from where we were standing! We moved on after a while (looking back all the time) but as ever the elusive leopard had vanished.
The big cats are often closer than hikers realise.
Bruce - Nature Guide /Manager
Karoo, likely derived from the Khoikhoi word garo meaning desert, also known as 'land of thirst'. This stretch of the Karoo is definitely undergoing a period of exceptional thirst. With no more than 155mm of rainfall in the last year this is one of the driest periods that Bosch Luys Kloof has experienced in the last 10 years.
The reserve is blessed with extended areas of Sweet thorn, Spekbos, Num-Num and other shrubs to provide fodder for all our game. Because of the sparse rain in the summer period our summer grasses fall short which affects grass eaters like the Red Hartebeest. We are now also frequently visited by foraging baboons around the lodge area, a kudu cow and a solitary porcupine also make nightly raids on the greener vegetation around the lodge! Cape Hares we have accepted as regular visitors for years now.
Fortunately our underground water is strong so that we haven't experienced any shortage in that regard.
We had more minutes of thunder than we had millimeters of rain in the last year!
Bruce - Nature Guide / Manager
New Chef - Frederick Theron
Derick joined us in March taking over from Allouise who moved nearer to home and her fiancé to get her wedding plans in place.
Derick worked through the ranks of chef de partie, sous chef and head chef over the last 8 years at different lodges, restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, etc., and possesses extensive experience in kitchen management.
He worked mainly in the Clarens tourist area.
Derick has impressed us with his wide range of skills and fine touch in presenting beautiful food.
We are confident that he will make our guests happy !
Gerhard & Ans- owners
This stretch of the Karoo has had comparatively very little rain in the last year, but this hasn't stopped the Kudu from calving. Kudu are largely browsers, and the Sweet Thorn (Acacia karroo) is one of their most important sources of food. The success of this large antelope is largely due to the Sweet Thorn having a very deep penetrating taproot, which allows it to utilise water and nutrients deep underground. The acacias also provide shelter for the Kudu during the day, which due to their marvellous camouflage can disappear behind a small curtain of acacia branches. So despite the drought pushing the grazers higher up the mountain slopes in search of grasses, the acacia have remained green, flowered and produced seed pods in abundance and the Kudu are thriving as usual.
Fire in the Western Cape
The Cape Peninsula has been a focal point on the news for the last few weeks with fire and smoke in abundance. But fynbos will burn, and indeed needs to burn. The southern stretch of the reserve is dominated by mountain fynbos and last burnt in the 1980's! Around the 4th of March a wildfire started on the mountains in Seweweekspoort, and burnt a large stretch of fynbos through the Poort, and was eventually pushed by the wind towards the southwestern boundary of the reserve. A stretch of land along the 'To Hell n Gone' 4X4 track that leads to the lookout point over Gamkaskloof ('Die Hel') was also caught in the fire, and although two of our water tanks were burnt to the ground, we are grateful for the fire. The fynbos in this area really needed a good burn, and we look forward to the nutrient replenished soils giving birth to a new growth of fynbos species in the coming months. About 500 Ha were completely burnt out.
The smoke over 'The Hell' (Gamkaskloof) was a talking point for our guests for the last few days.
64 Species of Birds in a 2 night stay
A new "record" was set in January 2015 by guests long ago bitten by the birding bug. Dr Greg Noel, his wife Lara and mother-in-law Lenie Smith, stayed with us for two days in January and in this short timeframe identified 64 different bird species. They were up and looking en route to a bird hide each morning at 05h00!
Little Swift taken to the air
Migratory Greater Striped Swallows chase favourable weather conditions around the world and every year these little guys arrive at the lodge and take to their old nests.
The Little Swift also frequently nest in urban areas and spend most of their life in the air, even drinking and catching insects on the wing.
We found a lost chick, not yet fledgling, outside the lodge one day, and our nature guide, Bruce, took on the role of mother! For close on two weeks Bruce collected insects each day and went through the painstaking process of feeding these gently to the Little Swift.
After painstakingly rearing the youngster, the fledgling Bosch-Luysie one day started stretching his wings in his box, and Bruce took him outside. He flapped a few times, looked back, took off and joined the other Swifts in the dusk to catch his own insects and hopefully find a mate in the future!
We have now spotted a group of Eland again on the western stretch of the reserve, closer to the river valley. We counted 13, 3 of which are calves. The Eland typically stick to the hills and koppies of the northern end of the reserve seeing as they don't need to drink water every day and also browse off the Spekboom (high moisture content). There are two major reasons for this: they have calved and being near water is necessary for the cows and also the Acacia karroo seed pods are abundant on the trees.
Prince Charles and the Queen
Welcoming interesting guests from over the world is always an enjoyable experience. In December we welcomed Prince Charles's manager of his Estates, gardens, farming, etc who participated in a motor cycle tour in South Africa.
Just as interesting was another guest in January who retired from his business of doing tourism charters over the world who entertained the Queen of England on one of his charters.
What is the sustainable value of an advertisement?
We learned an interesting lesson from guests that visited us in December. We always try to establish how guests learned of our existence - the reserve being so remote.
The Avery's told us they have kept an advert/article about us which they first read some three years ago and decided they want to visit us one day!
Great going Peter & Ronel!
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