However, if you want to do something more strenuous, we provide mountain bikes for cycling through the reserve or along the farm roads through the wheatfields, and there are plenty of wonderful routes to choose for walks.
Down at the dam guests can take to the water in canoes and kayaks, or go windsurfing, freshwater fishing or bird watching. Even the most relaxed guest will want to join our rangers on the morning and evening nature drives through the reserve, where there is always something different to discover. And of course we are well situated for visits to the attractions of Riebeek Kasteel and Tulbagh, as well as the up and coming wineries of the Swartland or, farther afield, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch.
Highlights of a stay at Bartholomeus Klip are the nature drives through the 10 000 acre nature reserve. The morning drive leaves after coffee, rusks and fruit and sets off through the gate and across the river into the reserve, entering a completely different world from the farmlands and gardens of Bartholomeus Klip. You might head towards the mountains towering up in front of you, or along the road to the grassy plains area where herds of black wildebeest and springbok tend to congregate. Fynbos surrounds you with its rich and varied plant life full of interest, where at any moment you might spot a zabra from the quagga project, a rare plant or perhaps even a strikingly patterned geometric tortoise. In the springtime there will be thousands of wild flowers and streams of running water everywhere, and in summer the heat and dryness will tell you that you are unmistakeably in Africa.
Guests have to tear themselves away from the splendid high tea to leave on the afternoon drive. It’s the end of the day and the veld is beginning to cool down for the night, with the geese flying home to the big dam and the clapper lark whistling as he soars into the sky. If you are lucky, the setting sun will turn the long range of mountains a fleeting shade of soft pink while your ranger serves you the classic South African sundowners along with a few delicious snacks. Then it’s back to the farmhouse to freshen up ready for the evening’s enjoyment of dinner in the candlelit conservatory.
Whatever time of day you go, you are sure to see plenty of life in the reserve whether it’s a couple of bontebok, a lone secretary bird striding through the veld, or a herd of eland standing watchfully in the fynbos: and you will have the knowledge that you are driving through a uniquely-preserved piece of one of the world’s smallest but richest floral kingdoms, the Cape Floristic Region.
At Bartholomeus Klip we are part of the Cape Floristic Region, which is one of the world’s six floral kingdoms and the smallest of these by far, but extraordinarily rich in species of flowering plants. The particular flora in our reserve is so special that it has been declared a provincial nature reserve, as well as a Natural Heritage Site, to safeguard it.
The reserve is a critical conservation area for two rare fynbos vegetation types, Swartland Alluvium Fynbos and Swartland Alluvium Renosterveld, and their wealth of associated animal and wildflower species. With its unusual plants, the reserve is the subject of many ongoing studies by local universities and other institutions, and an in-house project has already identified more than 850 species of plants here, including a spectacular diversity of spring flowers and bulbs. Many of these species are threatened and at least five of them have only ever been found in the reserve.
The reserve, which was established in the 1970s, has abundant herds of eland, springbuck, black wildebeest, zebra and bontebok, as well as other animals, such as baboons, bat-eared foxes, lynxes, and smaller species of antelope. Several different leopard individuals have been photographed in the reserve by trail cameras, usually at nighttime.
Although the fynbos is naturally poor in birdlife, we do have the world’s largest bird, the ostrich, once farmed here in large flocks at the height of the ostrich feather boom in the 1870s and today one of the leopard’s favourite foods. The magnificent black eagle (correctly known as Verreaux’s eagle) nests in the mountains, and the enormous dam near to the farmhouse has a spectacular array of water birds, some resident like the fish eagles and the kingfishers, and others such as the pelicans and the spoonbills less regular visitors. Flamingos have also been seen in some of Bartholomeus Klip’s smaller dams and there are a host of interesting large and small birds out in the reserve and on the wheatlands, including large flocks of the blue crane, South Africa’s national bird.
Perhaps the most important inhabitant of the reserve however is a far smaller creature: the endangered geometric tortoise, one of the world’s rarest reptiles, safe here in its last remaining viable habitat near Cape Town.
An interesting and unusual project at Bartholomeus Klip is the breeding of disease-free buffalo, which was embarked on in 1999. As most of the buffalo in Southern Africa are infected with corridor disease and foot and mouth disease, ‘clean’ animals from Bartholomeus Klip are in great demand on game ranches, especially as buffalo are one of the ‘Big Five’ (the others being lion, elephant, rhino and leopard) that tourists always want to see. The breeding programme has been managed along basic farming principles since the original founder herd of 20 buffalo calves were raised on dairy cows. The herd is now breeding at a sustainable rate and numbers are kept at around 60 animals, with offspring being sold to areas that need stocking. This programme provides a wonderful insight into the successful combination of modern farming and conservation, as well as allowing you the chance to get up close to view these magnificent animals.
Also to be seen at Bartholomeus Klip are zebras from the Quagga Project, which has aroused enormous interest around the world. This revolutionary project is aimed at re-breeding the extinct quagga, a zebra-like animal with no stripes on its rump and legs, and reintroducing it into reserves in its former habitat.
The Elandsberg Nature Reserve at Bartholomeus Klip has played a leading role in the Quagga Project from the get go in 1987 – in an attempt to bring back an animal from extinction and reintroduce it into reserves in its former habitat. DNA analysis has shown that the Quagga was not a separate species of zebra but in fact a subspecies of the Plains Zebra (Equus Quagga) By selective breeding from a selected founder population of southern Plains Zebras an attempt is being made to retrieve at least the genes responsible for the Quagga’s characteristic striping pattern. The project is aimed at rectifying a tragic mistake made over a hundred years ago through greed and short-sightedness. Baby Rachel was born on 12 August, and has joined a resident herd of 26 Quaggas at the Elandsberg Nature Reserve
6 000 acres of productive farmland surround Bartholomeus Klip, with wheat being the major crop and oats, canola and clover pastures grown on a rotational basis. On an operation of this size there is always something interesting happening, especially in autumn when the crops are planted, and in early summer, when they are harvested. The 4 000 merino sheep are kept primarily for their wool, which is sold on auction in Cape Town. Guests at Bartholomeus Klip particularly enjoy the lambing time (usually after the early winter rains, when there is grazing for the ewes), and like to visit the shearers in the big shed near to the farmhouse, where the wool is shorn, graded and packed into bales. Specialised farm tours can be arranged in advance.
Explore the Reserve and farmlands by bike. We have some trails set out depending on your fitness level and ability .We have bikes available to use at the back of the house and please let us know if you would like a route planned and to pack a bottle of cold mountain water to take along.
Explore the 10 000 acre nature reserve by mountain bike, or venture out onto the gravel roads leading to Wellington or Riebeek Kasteel.
Take a gentle stroll around the farm or around the gardens, or explore the 10 000 acre nature reserve. There is also the option of hiking in the mountains to enjoy the proteas and birdlife.
We have some fresh water species to fish such as Barbel and Carp. There are 3 tackle boxes with equipment in the small boathouse with instruction aswell as the rods. Do give us a shout if you need a hand, the guides are always available to assist.
Also on offer is fresh water fishing in our dam, where fish such as barbel, carp, small mouth bass and bluegill can be caught.