Koro Lodge. Bushmans Kloof. Cedarberg Mountains. South Africa
Why we love it
This secluded private house is set within Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve in the Cederberg Mountains a few hours drive north of Cape Town. It's a a stunning retreat steeped in geological and anthropological history with 130 bushman rock art galleries which have earned it a place as a South African Heritage Site. It has wide open rocky plains where you can see grey rhebok, bontebok, mountain zebra and bat eared foxes. On night drives you might see the elusive aardwolf (a termite eating member of the hyena family), wild cat, caracal. There are Cape leopards here too, often captured on a camera secreted in the mountains, but so shy they are rarely spotted. Koro Lodge is the retreat you've been looking for, with breathtaking views of something akin to a wild-west wilderness with other-worldly rock formations, crystal clear waterfalls and an abundance of flora and fauna. We loved the guides (they are great with children), the fact that you can walk, trail run and bike ride on your own, and the kids loved the heated swimming pool.
What to expect
The house can accommodate up to 6 adults and 4 children, but it's most comfortable with 8 people. The 2 en suite master bedrooms with private terraces have uninterrupted views and the self contained separate family living and entertainment space can sleep 2 teenagers or adults. There's also a cleverly designed loft area, upstairs from the main space, which comfortably accommodates 4 young children. The house has a TV, independent cable channels, DVD player, games, airconditioning, underfloor heating and wifi. The wine cellar stocks a superb choice of South Africa’s finest wines, as well as French Champagnes and Cognacs and the private chef promises extraordinary dinning. The lodge comes with its own host, chef and guide.
What to do
The guides are all extremely well trained to bring this landscape alive. They take you to some of the rock art sites dating back over 10 000 years and explain how early hunter-gatherers lived in these mountains on the bounty of nature. The guides also explain that these mountains are part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, with 750 indigenous Fynbos species, many of them with surprising medicinal and cultural uses. It's possible to go on day and night drives, mountain bike trails, walking trails, canoeing, rock climbing, swimming in rock pools and also archery. Catch and release fly fishing for Clanwilliam yellowfish is also possible. Birders will find more than 150 species including majestic black eagles. There is also a spa using unique products made from indigenous rooibos, flowers and plants and a massage with these makes you feel oh so relaxed!
Kids: Learn to paint like the Bushmen on rocks with natural brushes and hunt with bows and arrows. Collect ‘Bushman Treasures’ like sticks and stones, bones, flowers and seeds. Learn to track and trap insects. It's malaria and predator free, which makes Bushmans Kloof a vast natural playground.
The good news
Bushmans Kloof has earned many awards for its rock art conservation program, conservation of the endangered Cape mountain Zebra and Clanwilliam yellowfish. It also supports the Cape Mountain Leopard project as well as alien vegetation and indigenous planting programs.
When to go
As with most wild areas all seasons have their magic. The spring (August to October) brings with it the world renowned floral explosion where the arid landscape is transformed into a blanket of colour. Summers from November to April are warm to hot and are a great time to enjoy swimming in the cool mountain rivers. The winters here are cold and wet but have great advantages as this is when the Cedarberg is at its most dramatic, with powerful waterfalls where none existed in summer. Winter will also be your best chance of seeing the aardwolf, the cold forcing them to be more active during the day.
How to get there
It's a beautiful 3+ hour (270km) drive from Cape Town, or a 45-minute air transfer. Road transfers can be arranged.