Did you know?
Bat-eared foxes, found in fynbos, can hear the movements of insects underground.
If you’re wandering in the fynbos of Bartholomeus Klip in the spring, you may suddenly wish you had a hovercraft under your feet. No matter which way you step, it seems that there is some unique and wondrous plant there.
You feel as if you might be treading on the last of a species. But your guide may laugh and say the galloping herds of eland (which weigh nearly a ton each) do much more damage than your feet ever could.
This 4 000-hectare farm and reserve north of Cape Town is the guardian of one of the largest contiguous pieces of renosterveld in the world. This type of vegetation, a kind of fynbos, is a particular member of the Cape Floral Kingdom that grows in exceptionally rich soils. As a result, much of the renosterveld has been eradicated by crop farming.
Not surprisingly, this critical conservation area has been declared a provincial nature reserve as well as a natural heritage site. There are some species that are found only here.
In total, this private reserve protects 820 species of plants, of which five have never been found anywhere else. But it’s not only the plants that are critically endangered. It’s also one of the animals found here – notably the fourth generation of 'quagga in the making'.
Quagga became extinct in 1883, but it was recently found that the DNA was identical to Burchell’s zebra and here you can see quaggas being ‘bred back’ into existence.
The reserve is not only exceptional for its flowers. Apart from the herds of eland (the mountains nearby are called the Elandsberg) and buffalo there are other fynbos dwellers like zebras, black wildebeest and bat-eared foxes.
This is also a working sheep and wheat farm, so it neatly combines two worlds. You stay in a stylish Victorian farmhouse where the architecture, décor and hospitality seem from a former, more gracious era.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27 (0)22 448 1087
How to get here
Bartholomeus Klip farm is about 75 minutes' drive from Cape Town. Take the N1 north and then turn off at exit 47, signposted as the R44 to Stellenbosch, Wellington and Klapmuts. Turn towards Wellington. Once in the town, turn (still on the R44) towards Porterville. You'll get to the Hermon turn-off and Bartholomeus Klip after about 26km.
Best time to visit
During spring (September to November) the flowers are at their best.
Around the area
There's plenty to see nearby. Why not take a picnic basket (organised by Bartholomeus Klip's staff) to the nearby West Coast National Park and the West Coast Fossil Park? There are also interesting wine estates like Solm's Delta which is near the pretty town of Franschhoek, a short drive away.
Once at the farm, you'll probably just want to chill out. But there are mountain bikes you can take through the reserve and wheatfields. Also there are canoes if you'd like to go out on the lovely dam. There are game/flower drives morning and evening.
Length of stay
Stay at least two days. You may be tempted to extend it to three or four.
What to pack
Whatever you do, don't forget your camera at home.
Where to stay
Apart from the luxurious Victorian farmhouse there is also a lovely house for self-catering.
What to eat
The food is splendid. Come hungry.