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Cave dwellers and Bushman paintings

1 July 2009

  • Well-preserved Bushman paintings are a major attraction.

Kagga Kamma is situated in the Swartruggens region, a south-easterly extension of the Cederberg and bordered on the east by the arid Ceres Karoo.

The area has the typical reddish brown weathered sandstone formations of the Cederberg area, as well as its plant cover, a drier mountain fynbos. It is largely treeless and is dominated by a variety of shrubs with interesting local names such as kakiebos, klaaslouwbos, koringbos, renosterbos, sneeubos, wolwedoring, taaibos and skilpadbessie.

It has a rich cultural heritage, with hundreds of Bushman and San rock paintings or rock art of up to 6000 years old.

So what better place to build a lodge with “caves” set in among the rocks to serve as luxury accommodation, and create a game reserve with a difference?

What’s the accommodation like?

Unique. The caves at the Bushman Lodge are made from cement, with the moulds taken from the surrounding rocks. So it blends in perfectly with the sandstone rock formations where it’s situated, to the point of being almost invisible. Good isolation and air conditioning mean the temperatures inside stay pleasant. The ten unique “cave suites” have a private terrace, en-suite bathrooms and twin or king-size beds.

The more adventurous couple can take a quad and go to the Outcrop open-air camp some 5km from the lodge, enjoy the solitude and stars, but in the comfort of a double bed placed among the rocks.

You can choose to either have a picnic basket for dinner or depart to the outcrop after dinner at the lodge. A roaring fire and drinks will be waiting!

Which one to ask for?

Cave 14, situated high up on the rocky outcrop where the lodge is situated, with magnificent views over the spectacular scenery, majestic mountains, strange rock formations, and of the phenomenal night skies.

And the children?

The cave suites are large enough to accommodate only one extra mattress, but there are also five spacious en-suite thatched rondavels, each with an extra double sleeper couch, suitable for families with children.

How’s the food?

Typical South African fare, but attractively presented. Lunch is ? la carte, and dinner from a set menu. You can choose from three main courses, and venison also forms part of the meal.

The lodge has a restaurant for breakfast and lunch and an outdoor lapa for dinner under the stars.

What to ask for?

The eland steak, with a red wine sauce. There could also be wildebeest, gemsbok, kudu or springbok, all deliciously prepared.

What’s exiting to do?

A 4×4 trail winding its way through the amazing Cederberg sandstone structures. On a clear day the trail will offer you a magnificent view over the vast stretches of the Karoo and the mountains and valleys of the Cederberg.

Look for detail and you will find some of the very rare reptiles and birds of this area. You are sure to see some game, from small steenbok to large eland and cheeky baboons. You might even spot caracal or mountain leopard.

From the middle of August to middle November there are lots of flowers, and in winter there might even be snow on the high-lying areas.

In total the route is more than 100km in length and it is best to travel together with another vehicle. From Kagga Kamma reception, the route slowly descends from 3800 feet above sea level to about 1200 feet in the Ceres Karoo. It is mostly quite relaxing, but there are a few very steep sections.

The beauty is that you don’t have to do the entire route. You are issued with a good map, the routes are numbered and you can decide which loop or loops you want to tackle.

And you might want to shorten the route with good reason – there are also guided game drives (including a sundowner and night drives) where you’ll be sure to see some of the many species of game on the reserve, from Burchell’s zebra to eland, gemsbok, kudu, black and blue wildebeest, and bontebok, to the smaller springbok, grey rhebok, Cape grysbok, duiker, klipspringer and steenbok.

Nocturnal animals include aardwolf, lynx, ant bear, black-backed jackal, caracal and Cape porcupine.

The bushman paintings are a must-see, and expert rangers will interpret the paintings and the Bushmen’s fascinating ancient culture. You can go on foot, or on a leisurely quad bike drive.

Another must-do activity is to get the best out of the crisp Karoo night skies and watch the stars and planets through a 10-inch telescope at the mini observatory. An expert will explain what’s twinkling where.

The women can be pampered at the Health and Beauty Spa, where a wide range of treatments including deluxe manicures and pedicures, hot stone therapy and luxury facials are on offer. A swimming pool is built into the stunning Cederberg rock formations.

Further afield…

If you have a few days on hand you might want to take a drive to the Stadsaal Caves, taste wine from South Africa’s highest vineyards at the Cederberg Wine Cellar (these are also available at Kagga Kamma), buy handmade leather shoes at Wuppertal or drive to Lambert’s Bay to have lunch at the famous Muisbosskerm open-air seafood restaurant on the beach, or tackle the sand of The Dunes.

What does it cost?

Go in winter and pay R930 per person per night sharing for a deluxe cave. Price includes all meals and Kagga Kamma activities mentioned above, except the quad rides and spa treatments. In summer it’s R1880.

Who do I phone?

Bookings at 021 872-4343.
Or e-mail [email protected]
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