Four star game reserve, South Africa

HISTORIC ROUTE

This is a clear road/ path to follow and does not need any further detail. There are no real hills or valleys to mention. The land falls slightly from west to east.

Historic route

Background
The route starts from the Lodge area and follows a jeep track running west all along the southern side of the Bosluiskloof river. We also offer Land Rover nature drives on this route.

Several points of historic interest can be seen along the route, dating back to the time of the early pioneers and settlers around the late 19th and early 20th century. They are numbered 1 to 15 along the route, and referenced with a short description in this booklet. Along the route distance markers (every 0.5km) will indicate your progress from the lodge.

The total distance up to the last number (14) is 4.5km.

Walk as far as you wish on the main track and return on the same track taking a short detour through the Acacia thicket (sign-posted ‘Bush Path’).

If you do not make a lot of noise you might well spot, amongst others, Zebra, Kudu, Baboon, Klipspringer, Eland & Gemsbok – look high up on the hills as well.

Contents

  1. Old water well (with bucket pulley system)
  2. Labyrinth
  3. Main solar pump and borehole for Lodge/chalets
  4. Old water furrows
  5. San cave (Bushmen)
  6. Old pioneer house with donkey threshing floor (for wheat)
  7. Old watershed
  8. Old windmill; water point for livestock (1900-2000)
  9. Pioneer house with donkey threshing floor
  10. Old water well
  11. Pioneer house
  12. Pioneer graveyard
  13. Donkey threshing floor
  14. Livestock dipping hole
  15. In the canyon West along Bosluiskloof river - Old pioneers’ house and Russian grave

(1) OLD WELL

Before sinking boreholes in the Karoo and using windmills and now solar powered pumps (3) to extract water from underground, a common method to obtain this valuable life source in this arid region in the 19th and early 20th century was to dig down close to underground water bodies. In this instance, it was close to the main drainage line of the Bosch Luys Kloof valley. Pioneers would dig deep pits and rely on seepage to fill the bottom of the ‘well’. The side of the pit was lined with rocks to prevent it from caving in. No longer intact today, they would use a water wheel with a bucket to bring the water up from the pit as required. Since being dug, this hole had permanent water until about 2015. It could fill up again once the current (2015 – 2018) drought ends.

(2) LABYRINTH

The Bosch Luys Kloof Petite Chatres Labyrinth is based on the same formation found in the labyrinth of the Chatres Cathedral in France. The formation was developed in the 13th century as a symbol of a pilgrim’s quest and is said to help balance your spiritual elements. These elements are compass direction inspired i.e. North, East, South and West. The spiritual elements they represent are Energy, Rebirth, Contentment and Pure Joy respectively. For a more descriptive pamphlet, ask management.

(3) MAIN BOREHOLE

The solar panels and water reservoirs for the main borehole (3), which provide the lodge, chalets and garden with water are found on the north-facing slope of the hills south of point 3. Being solar powered the borehole has a rest period overnight, with the pump only being active when the sun shines. Five storage tanks of 10 000 liters each are used, some as storage and others as open flow. To ensure the water delivered to the lodge and chalets remains fresh, these are rotated weekly by alternating open and closed/reserve tanks.

(4) WATER FURROWS

No longer fully visible today, these furrows are believed to have channeled water to drinking troughs for animals as well as to the small crop fields (i.e. wheat) used for subsistence farming. The line of this furrow is more clearly visible if you look up to the left of the road shortly after passing point 5. The water was channeled from this side of the valley towards the old homestead (now lodge). One can still see some sections that haven’t been washed away over time.

(5) SAN CAVE

The cave can be spotted from the main track and faces east. The cave was most likely used by the /Xam (southern San/Bushmen group) and later Quena (also known as Khoi, derived from Dravidian Indians and San that interbred) people. The rock art here hasn’t stood up too well to the test of time, but still evident are images of an Eland, and a series of finger dots. This might have been a birthing cave, facing eastward, with each dot representing a new clan member, the dots might indicate timeframes/seasons. Another possible reason for the finger dots: the potency retained in the act of hand and finger printing fixed the beings and events of the spirit world on the rock face, enabling the shamans and initiates at the site to ‘see’ them when they touch the art.

(6) TYPICAL PIONEER HOUSE (1800‘s)/ STORE

The pioneers’ first houses usually consisted of two rooms. Single room houses were also believed to be used as stores for the wheat that the first settlers grew in small scale in the valley. The threshing floors, as seen at points (9), (12) and (13), was a method used by farmers to separate the chaff from the wheat. The dry unprocessed wheat ears were laid on the threshing floor and donkeys were harnessed to a pole in the centre and chased in circles around the threshing floor, stepping on the wheat and separating wheat kernels from chaff. It was then tossed up in the air and the chaff would be blown away by the breeze, while the heavier wheat grain would fall to the floor. This was then swept up into sacks and stored to make bread, etc.

(7) WATERSHED

These were ridges built by the settlers with the aim of directing water runoff elevated ground into little dam areas. These were a result of manpower (no machines), making use of donkeys and oxen and a “donkey plough and scoop”. An old ‘scoop’ specimen, found in the valley, can be seen hanging near the main entrance gate to the lodge.

(8) WATERPOINT

This enlarged ground dam is a main drinking hole for the game in the western areas. A small oasis for the local fauna. The windmill has been replaced with solar pumps (two in use) which create a nice picnic spot that also harbours quite a bit of bird life. Feel free to ponder a while in the bird hide or on the little benches around the dam and see what you can spot. When it survives the ever present baboons, there is a ‘bush shower’ to cool down under on a hot day – enquire on operation before you walk.

(9) PIONEER HOUSE

Refer to (6) above.

(10) OLD WATER WELL

If you walk a few metres off the road towards the side of the dry river, a bit west of the point (9) house, you will find the remains of an old well that probably had drinking water for the family that stayed there.

(11) PIONEER HOUSE MAIN

This heap of clay was still “walls up” when the land was bought in 1996. A picture can be seen in the Boslus pub – one of the four main pioneer houses.The people who lived there only left in the mid 1900’s. Searching the bush one can still find remains of old fig and pomegranate trees. The “farmer” was a Van Wyk who regularly rode his horse to Prince Albert (approx. 50km away) where they did their business in those days. His grave is in the graveyard at the lodge.

His brother lived further up (west) the river canyon and we have managed to find the old house’s remains.

Van Wyk was believed to be quite a short tempered man. It was told that he threw the dipping inspector from Prince Albert into the livestock dipping hole when the man asked too many questions!

His children would often trek from the valley over to where the pass reaches the main gate, where the ‘To Moer & Gone’ hiking route starts. That specific Kloof is aptly named ‘Van Wyks Kloof’, as to commemorate their long walks to school on a weekly basis.

(12) OLD GRAVEYARD

See if you can find it, slightly South East of the Van Wyk pioneer house

(13) OLD THRESHING FLOOR

See if you can find it.

(14) DIPPING AREA

Dipping holes are commonly used amongst farmers with livestock. Livestock dip is added to the water-filled hole to combat ticks, lice and other skin parasites on sheep, cattle and goats, as they are dipped from head to toe (or hoof).

(15) FURTHER UP THE RIVER/ CANYON

Refer to 11 as well.

The walk up to the house of Van Wyk’s brother is quite a distance and should not be challenged without consulting with our manager or owner. One finds the ruins only by chance.

An interesting story is one written by the famous South African parliamentarian, writer, poet, etc, C.J. Langenhoven.

A Russian scientist discovered a formula to produce gold out of certain raw materials and chemicals. This was in the early 1900’s. As the news broke he immediately became a hunted man by the owners of mines and businessmen that were already highly invested in the yellow material.

The story goes that he had to vanish and so landed up in South Africa – a country of course also very active in the gold industry. But the spies were on his heels in no time.

To cut the story short, he fled to the most remote places and, believe it or not, landed up at Van Wyks brother deep into the bosluiskloof river canyon.

Tragically he was located even there and murdered. His grave, that we did manage to find, was dug by the assassins and reflects the truth of the story – it was dug north to south. Like it is done in the northern hemisphere.

We can’t vouch for this – but no-one should mess with such a great story!

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