Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat: About Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat

Located in Western Cape, South Africa

The Cederberg Mountains rise up from the South African vled in dramatic fashion, forming steep rock walls divided by a succession of deep ravines. These massive sandstone blocks wear the imprints of time and nature—contorted spires weathered by wind and rain, the petrified ripples of an ancient seabed, fossilized remnants of extinct life forms. It’s easy to see why the indigenous San people deemed these rocks the ultimate canvas for telling their story, and why tens of thousands of years later, visitors come to Bushmans Kloof to learn about these ancient people and immerse themselves in the rugged beauty of the mountains.

Bushmans Kloof is an intimate lodge that connects you with the spiritual legacy of the San like no place else, granting access to the mesmerizing rock art paintings harbored by their private reserve. And when you’re not musing over the meanings of these ancient pictographs, a unique wilderness experience awaits. Venture out on your own into a predator-free sanctuary where Cape mountain zebras, black wildebeests, and all manner of antelope graze amidst fields of flowering fynbos. Or sit on your patio surrounded by sculpted rock, and let the ancient wonder of the region seep in.

Why We Love This Lodge

Since its opening in 1996, Bushmans Kloof has shown a remarkable dedication to preserving the cultural legacy of the Cederberg region—an area that harbored one of the oldest civilizations on Earth. The lodge has served as a steward for more than 130 cave sites painted by the indigenous San people, actively working to ensure that these expressive murals will tell the story of the land’s original inhabitants for generations to come. These preservation efforts have helped the Rock Art earn distinction as a South African National Heritage Site.

The Bushman’s treasured murals show a lost version of the Cederberg, where flourishing plants and diverse fauna, including now-absent big game, lived in harmony. The Bushman property owners—originally Bill and Mark McAdam, and more recently the Tollman family—have made it their mission to restore the overgrazed land to its former splendor. In 1995, the McAdams initiated a long-term regeneration program for the veld and gradually began reintroducing indigenous flora and fauna, including the vulnerable Cape mountain zebra—the largest mammal in South Africa ever to face extinction. The Tollmans built upon these efforts and are the proud proprietors of a land that thrives once again.

Highlights

  • Examine some of the lodge's more than 130 archaeological rock art sites, adorned with massive 10,000-year-old rock art murals depicting the shamanistic rituals of the ancient indigenous San people.
  • Roam on your own in a predator-free wildlife preserve, and get up-close views of Bushman Reserve antelope species, black wildebeests, and rare Cape mountain zebras.
  • Paddle a canoe along pristine waterways that cut through the sandstone, breaking for a dunk in a secret swimming hole.
  • Witness one of the world’s most breathtaking springtime events, the Cape wildflower bloom (July to October), when the veld is draped in glorious pastels and jewel tones.
  • Dine on fresh Cape cuisine in a natural sandstone amphitheater, lit by a roaring fire and hundreds of twinkling lanterns and candles.

National Geographic Exclusive

Guests who book their stay through National Geographic will enjoy an exclusive, private presentation on the history behind the property’s Bushman paintings, given by the lodge’s rock art curator. Afterwards, you’ll head to the onsite Heritage Centre for a guided visit through galleries displaying Bushman artifacts, including ancient jewelry, hunting gear, and shamanistic paraphernalia. Cap off this memorable experience with a private drive through the lodge reserve to view some of its spectacular paintings.

Lodge Features

  • 16 guest rooms and suites and one private villa, each with a private terrace that offers stunning views of the surrounding sandstone rock formations
  • A range of dining venues, including Embers, an open-air pavilion built into a natural sandstone amphitheater
  • Two shared lounges—one situated around a fireplace, and the other around a television
  • Four swimming pools set amid the lodge’s lush lawns and gardens
  • Onsite organic garden yielding fresh produce for lodge meals
  • Heritage Centre exhibiting cultural artifacts belonging to the ancient Bushman
  • Spa appointed with airy treatment rooms, a quartz steam room, and meditation spaces
  • Award-winning wine cellar stocked with South Africa’s finest wines
  • Private art collection featuring pieces from acclaimed South African artists
  • Boutique featuring local souvenirs and handicrafts
  • Library with a wide selection of works, including Africana
  • Fully equipped fitness center
  • Conference center
  • Free Wi-fi throughout the lodge

Spotlight on Sustainability

Sustainability takes center stage at Bushmans Kloof, where a dedicated conservation team works to incorporate preservation processes into nearly every aspect of the lodge’s operation—from food composting and using energy-efficient lighting to recycling bath water for irrigation purposes. All lodge staff live in solar-powered housing on the property, which eliminates the need for daily transport and provides local families with secure employment and education opportunities. To further support the greater Cederberg region, the lodge buys local whenever possible.

Bushmans Kloof takes its sustainability efforts beyond the accommodations, sponsoring a variety of environmental conservation projects throughout its 18,000-acre wildlife reserve. The lodge has played a pivotal role in reintroducing critically endangered Clanwilliam cedar trees into the area, growing saplings in its nursery and hosting an annual tree-planting event. Lodge conservationists are actively monitoring the reproductive success of the vulnerable Cape mountain zebra, and are also putting measures in place that encourage spawning in Clanwilliam yellowfish, vulnerable due to overfishing in the area.

Awards and Recognitions

African Responsible Tourism Awards: Gold Award for ‘Best Contribution To Cultural Heritage Conservation’ (2016)

National Geographic Travel, World’s Best Ecolodges

Condé Nast, Readers’ Choice Awards: Best Resort in South Africa, 2015

Condé Nast, Readers’ Choice Awards: Top 100 Hotels & Resorts in the World, 2015

Condé Nast, World Savers Awards: Wildlife Conservation, Winner, 2009

Photos from Our Lodge and Travelers

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