Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve lies at the foot of South Africa’s Cederberg Mountains and alongside the Great Karoo plains in the Western Cape. Situated within the UNESCO World Heritage Cape Floral Kingdom, this isolated expanse of land encompasses sweeping plains and unique sandstone formations, which between them exhibit the rich wildlife and extraordinary heritage of this land. In collaboration with our not-for-profit TreadRight Foundation, Bushmans Kloof is paving the way in preserving this unique landscape and culture through conservation and community efforts.
As a part of the Cape Floral Kingdom – one of the world’s richest areas for plant biodiversity – it’s the Fynbos shrubland that distinguishes this region’s flora from any other. Among the conservation efforts that Bushmans Kloof employs to protect this land is the Clanwilliam Cedar Tree Project, which works towards re-establishing this species of tree where it once flourished. In partnership with the Botanical Society of South Africa and Western Cape Nature Conservation, saplings are grown in preparation for an annual tree and seed planting ceremony.
It’s not just the flora that benefits from these TreadRight initiatives. Bushmans Kloof strives to protect the indigenous wildlife, too – not only on the reserve, but also in the land beyond. TreadRight’s project partner, The Cape Leopard Trust is central to these efforts, and is committed to protecting the leopards that live within the nearby mountains. Since 2005, Bushmans Kloof has helped fund the collars and tracking devices used by biologists to monitor the leopards’ movements and behaviour.
The reserve itself is predator free, but one of the world’s largest herds of Cape Mountain Zebra does live here, so Bushmans Kloof is a part of the worldwide efforts to save this species from extinction. In 1984 just 400 of these zebras remained, but this number has since tripled. While monitoring each zebra on the reserve, Bushmans Kloof continues to better understand what the species need for its future survival.
Of equal importance is the river system’s Clanwilliam Yellowfish, which used to thrive in these waters but went into decline in the ‘40s due to the introduction of bass for sport fishing. Now, Bushmans Kloof is placing the focus firmly on preserving this species within the land’s three dams.
With a history of bushmen dating back 10,000 years, the reserve’s sandstone formations are no less extraordinary, exhibiting over 130 bush art painting sites, which the reserve protect while educating visitors about the ancient bushman culture. And in addition to retaining the bushmen traditions, the reserve wholeheartedly supports the local community through education initiatives, by introducing students to the hospitality industry, and by supporting local trade.
All of these factors are integral to Bushmens Kloof. After all, it is this flora, fauna, community and culture that make up the wilderness reserve’s identity. Gaining recognition for its efforts, the reserve has won a number of conservation awards, including the Condé Nast World Savers Award for Wildlife and Conservation Programmes, and the Relais and Chateaux Environment Trophy.
A stay at Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve enables guests to get to know this land and its heritage first-hand. Set out on rock art excursions, hike and cycle along the reserve’s trails, and canoe along the tributaries of the Olifants River system. And this is just the beginning.
Watch this video to get a taste of the extraordinary rock art at Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve.
All images of Bushmans Kloof © Red Carnation Hotels. Cape Mountain Zebra © iStock / Nick Wonfor.