March 3rd; Inverdoorn to the Cederberg Mountains:
We left Inverdoorn early, 8 am. We had experienced the warmest temperatures so far here, in the Karoo, and the coolest hours to ride were the early hours. The first 15 km were gravel and we wanted to get that part over with.
We backtracked along R356 to R46 and headed west. The town of Ceres was a large orchard growing, fruit packing town. We descended into Ceres, and saw the “low gear” sign for trucks.
From Ceres we took R46 through some passes, past olive and wine farms and along the Groot Winterhoek Wilderness area. The first time I saw a “Baboons in the road” sign I thought it was funny. We saw the sign a few more times, but no baboons. We started to disregard the warning. As we headed north on R44 we passed through a few more passes. I had just passed some cars and accelerated to 120 km in order to have some fun on the curving pass road when I rounded a corner and saw not just one or two, but an entire troop of baboons in the middle of the road. I braked hard and maneuvered around them like cones on an autocross track, while they seemed unfazed by my bike, my sister’s bike behind me, and the cars behind us. From then on, I took the baboon warning sign much more seriously. I later asked one of our guides why I hadn’t seen any dead baboons in the road. He said in the 10 years he’d driven in the area he had seen only one hit on the road, and that they are quick and agile and you would have to really try to hit one. (I really wanted a photo of the baboon warning sign, but each time we came upon it, the location was too dangerous to pull over).
We followed R44 northbound, passing Portersville, until we connected with the larger N7, where we hit major road construction. We saw quite a few road works projects, and they seemed to handle the traffic and delays rather well. The road was down to one lane, and the traffic had to be stopped periodically on each end, and the waiting traffic sent through. We didn’t really wait too long, ten minutes at the most, and then were climbing the pass into Citrusdal. We continued on the N7 which runs along the Olifants River and is a very pretty valley with rolling hills and farm land.
The Cederberg Mountains were off our right side. When we reached Clanwilliam, we turned off on R364, expecting gravel. Our map was somewhat out of date, as it had been tarred.
The stretch of R364 from Clanwilliam to the gates of Bushman’s Kloof were very scenic, curving mountain roads, red rocks and baboons in the rocks watching us pass. We reached the gates of Bushman’s Kloof, our destination, and they buzzed us in. The next 8 km were all red sand, and we had to continue at a pretty slow pace.
Bushman’s Kloof, http://www.bushmanskloof.co.za/, was the spot I had chosen as my birthday location. It was voted “Best Hotel In The World” by Travel Leisure in 2009, and Condé Nast Traveler USA World’s Best Awards Top 50 Resorts in Africa (2011). It looked like a nice spot to celebrate my birthday and the right distance for a comfortable and fun ride. We rode straight through, stopping only for fuel or to check the map, and it took us 5 hours from Inverdoorn to Bushman’s Kloof. We arrived at 1 pm, but our room wasn’t ready. So we had lunch and they showed us around the place while we waited for our room.
The room was beautiful, perfect. We had a nice pool to share with 3 other villas and a wonderful patio. We used the pool, relaxed, and enjoyed a bottle of champagne while waiting for High Tea.
At 4 pm each day High Tea is served, which includes light sandwiches, tea, coffee and cakes. At 5 pm each day an afternoon game drive sets out. The 18,000 acre spread has a perimeter fence, but nothing else. Leopards and a few small predators such as Caracal and African Wild Cat are in the area and free to come and go. The staff have seen them on occasion. Mostly we came to see the Cape Mountain Zebra (endangered), the Oryx and the Rock Art of the ancient San people. On our first drive we did see the Cape Mountain Zebra, Eland, Bontebok, Springbok, and Hartebeast. We saw the Oryx on our second drive the following morning.
From the Bushman’s Kloof brochure:
Bushman’s Kloof has been instrumental in the quest to save the rare and endangered Cape mountain zebra from extinction and is the proud owner of one of the larfest privately owned herds among the estimated total population of 1200 animals worldwide.
Two other guests, Marton and Vivian from the UK, joined us on our evening game drive. As our guide Regardt pointed out some Ostriches and explained that they are constantly grazing, Marton observed that the guests at the hotel were much like the Ostrich. Breakfast is served from 7 am until noon, lunch from noon until 3 pm, high tea at 4 pm, and dinner at 8. God forbid you ever become hungry. Impossible.
Sundowners were served, as usual, on the tailgate of the Toyota Land Cruiser.
Happy Hour was at 730, at the River Boma. We sat and watched the stars, with a terrific view of the Southern Cross. Dinner was served at 8 pm and was very tasty.