Take back 2020
Take back 2020
‘..and forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair’. Kahlil Gibran
Each weekend when I leave my suburb in search of lockdown distraction it is abundantly clear that many of us seek the same thing, to reconnect with nature.
Earlier this month I spent a week in Oudtshoorn walking in the sun, breathing fresh air and spending time on farms and game lodges. My soul needed to recharge and my head a tech holiday.
One of the most thrilling drives I have taken lies in this Klein Karoo district, follow the Swartberg Circle Route but take a 4×4 detour to Gamkaskloof where the 57km dirt road into this strange abandoned settlement is winding and narrow. Research tells me that the Swartberg Mountain is amongst the best exposed fold mountain chains in the world. The history of the Gamkaskloof agricultural community ended in 1991 when the last remaining farmer left.
Meiringspoort with its famous waterfall connects the Klein and Great Karoo and I have been told that the road crosses the same river an amazing 25 times.
For those more inclined to protecting our planet the Kanna Biodiversity route may be of interest. A relevant side bar, the original name for Klein Karoo was Kannaland named after the succulent root used by indigenous people to help with thirst, hunger and exhaustion.
Another well-loved and recognized shrub is the Malva Plant otherwise known as Pelargonium. This local plant launched millions of colourful window boxes across the world thanks to a gardener called Heinrich Bernhard who worked for the Dutch East India company in 1689.
If it is animals you want to meet the choice is wide and varied. Oudtshoorn is famous for its ostriches and a visit to either Cango, Chandelier, Highgate or Safari Ostrich farm will allow you to tick that box. Meerkats are also a favourite and can be seen at Buffelsdrift Game Lodge or at Five Shy Meerkats. An early morning encounter will guarantee a love for these quirky little mongooses and a file full of photos.
Buffelsdrift Game Lodge also offers bush safaris, night drives, cheetah walks and stargazing. Cango Wildlife Ranch is closer to town and this is where your love of animals will reach new heights with over 90 species to meet. Cango Wildlife Ranch’s conservation work across many animal types is admirable and a guided walk is recommended if you want to find out more about vultures, cheetah and lemur protection programmes.
Nature brings us so many magical encounters sometimes it takes us deeper into its secret spaces to learn more, Cango Caves is such a place. The system of tunnels and chambers extend for over 4km however only a quarter is open to public visits. Mapping indicates that the caves extend in a single line and never rise or fall more than 16m. Book a heritage or adventure tour but make sure you understand the limitations on the latter.
Stargazers have an opportunity to stay at one of the guest houses surrounding the town which offer clear night skies. Some of which include Mooiplaas, Mount Noah (a very different nautical experience) and Surval Boutique Olive Estate. Times vary according to seasons but usually start around 20:00 in summer.
The climate in Oudtshoorn is perfect for nature lovers and hiking trails or bike rides are bookable via various operators, our recommendation is to contact the Oudtshoorn Tourism office.
If fishing is your thing, drop an email to the tourism office for more info. Whatever your inclination Oudtshoorn and the Klein Karoo offers in abundance. It is time to claim back 2020, its quarantines, social distancing and lockdowns need to be neutralized with nature, fresh air and family time.