Erik and I took a short weekend break to the foot of the Swartberg Mountains. About 30min. outside Oudtshoorn, in the Little Karoo, ‘just around the corner’ from the word famous Cango Caves. It never seizes to amaze me that as early as 1780 a local farmer by the name of Van Zuyl ventured that far out of what must have been a tiny town at the time, to discover the Cango Caves. With only a little candle light to show him the way. But that’s a totally different story….
Anyway, Erik and I left our little paradise in the heart of the Garden Route, travelled along the coast for about an hour before moving north over the Outeniqua Mountains and into the Little Karoo, or Klein Karoo as it is called in Afrikaans. The Little Karoo stretches from the before mentioned Outeniqua Mountains in the south to the majestic Swartberg Mountains in the north.
At the foot of the Swartberg Mountains, with view towards the Swartberg Pass, we rented a cottage on the Swartberg Private Wildlife Estate. There are several options for rentals, including a commercially run lodge, on the reserve. The original 17 farms were put together during the 1990’s, and non-dangerous game was re-introduced into the area.
The farm was then re-zoned and resold to individuals, looking for a genuine piece of African bush, yet not too primitive or lacking modern comforts. So what you get here are several individually built and styled homes on a game farm run mostly for the owners and their visitors’ enjoyment.
And with only non-dangerous game having been introduced on the farm, you can imagine we found ourselves in paradise for the weekend! We had taken our mountain bikes, as to explore the reserve, and although the paths on the reserve are not necessarily made for mountain bikes, and definitely not for the unfit (we realized too late we now belong to that category…), the just-being-out-there-with-the-animals itself was worth the sweat and effort. To face a giraffe while on your bike, or see that zebra looking at you as you zip past: those are memories to cherish! When it comes to the bigger antelope like kudu’s, gemsbok, waterbuck, nyala’s and eland – which we all saw that afternoon we went out on our bikes – I was glad to see they were as nervous seeing us as we were seeing them!
And then the next morning we went for a hike. Up the road, trying to stay out of ‘the veld’, scared as we were of the many snakes which may hide in there. Again, the impala’s were curious, yet – not being used to many humans – stayed away at quite a distance. However, don’t misinterpret this as a disappointment from our side: on the contrary, we were excited about being able to be out there with them, even though we had to use our binoculars to see them ‘close up.’ Nature around there, the Swartberg Mountains towering down above us (which were covered in snow the next day, by the way!), aloes blooming all around us, and the call of nervous impala’s from the distance…
This is definitely not a commercial game farm: no cues of game viewing vehicles at every water hole. No guide, ranger or tracker, but a genuine bush experience awaits you here.
And this is when I realized I want to share these experiences with you. South Africa has so much to offer, and yes, we focus on golf and everything that comes with it. But there is more, so much more!
So during this weekend away the idea of Eagle Eyes was born: observations of a golfer, on anything golf and travel in South Africa. Personal stories, possibly biased but always honest. Because there is so much more than just golf!