When you find yourself in an unfamiliar place that speaks to you in a familiar way – as though it had been expecting you and you had been expecting it… and you only have a handful of hours in which to enjoy it, the only sane thing to do is, as the French say, Mangez bien, riez souvent, aimez beaucoup. Eat well, laugh often, love abundantly.
On the last day of our Cape to Cederberg to Cape Route du Bonheur, we eat, we laugh and we love. We love waking up with the sun in time to witness its quick rise – for it too is eager to make the most of the hours ahead. We love slipping beneath the still pane of water in the infinity pool in front of our villas. We love the mountain and its people, past and present.
What we’ll remember about our last day of the Bushmans Kloof leg of our Route du Bonheur…
Read more about the first leg here.
1. The mountains are calling – Our 4×4 winds over the red earth of the Cederberg, through the low bush that is starting to welcome the morning birds. Behind the wheel, our guide, Nicholas leads us to a clearing where a smooth ground of rock replaces bush. We disembark and head into the stillness of mountains on foot. The words of Henry David Thoreau amble with us… “An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.”
2. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago – Bushmans Kloof is involved in the Cedar Tree Project together with CapeNature to replant and help save the endemic Clanwilliam cedar trees (Widdringtonia cedarbergensis) that are categorised as Critically Endangered on the Red Data List. As part of the project, Nicholas hands us each a spade and a cedar tree. We dig a home for our cedars in the soil beside existing trees and lay them in the ground.
3. Ancient artists – We continue along a path to a cave marked by the paintings of the Bushmen hunter gatherers who once roamed these mountains. This is one of 130 unique rock art sites on the reserve – some of which are as old as 10,000 years. Beneath the cathedral of mankind’s oldest nation, our guides give us a glimpse of life for this tribe, explaining the spiritual and practical realms they inhabited.
4. Breakfast in the wild, beside a dam and complete with Nutella pancakes, croissants, granola, yoghurt and gooseberry bowls, cheese and fruit platters… prepared by Executive Chef, Ryan Weakley and his team. Read more in our blog, 10 Questions with Bushmans Kloof’s Chef.
5. Farm to fork – Providing the kitchen with fresh produce and set beneath the careful watch of mountain-dwelling baboons lies an undercover vegetable and herb garden, as well as rows of orchards, rooibos bushes, vineyards, flowers and other leafy corners to explore.
6. The Riel deal
Seeing us off was the Riel Dance Troupe known as Die Nuwe Graskoue Trappers, a group of young dancers from the area who are responsible for the revival of the ‘Rieldans’, a traditional ceremonial dance of the ancient Khoi and San people. Having won gold at the World Championships of Performing Arts in Los Angeles last year, with the support of Bushmans Kloof, the group are spreading the legacy of the Bushmen far beyond the mountains of the Cederberg. Read more about the Riel in our blog, Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.