As a matter of possible interest to some we have put together some insight into the development of Bosch Luys Kloof. Firstly a short history of the land before we bought it. Then some insight on how it came about that we settled here (a question frequently asked by guests) coming from city life, and lastly a view of our future aspirations and the road ahead.
Gerhard & Ans Rademeyer
Short history of the land
Over the past approximately 160 years until ±1970 different parts of the reserve were extensively used for stock farming, mainly merino sheep. Currently it extends near 14 000 hectares, but it was of still greater magnitude before the Gamkapoort Dam was built in 1967 – 1969 on the eastern side of the property. The Dam cut off a few thousand hectares and also blocked off the former road to Prince Albert.
Although many different owners farmed with livestock until ±1970, only small scale herding has taken place since. The reserve thus fortunately had a period of natural rehabilitation of 40 years plus.
The veld in some areas is untouched by grazing but other areas were not that fortunate. Since the building of the dam the veld had time to rehabilitate causing it to improve every year. Much however depends on the rainfall patterns. The well known Spekbos (Portulacaria afra) footprint is increasing nicely.
The reserve still has remnants of old stone structures, used by shepherds of the stock-farmers of the past. There are also a number of old graves from the middle 19th century. There were four main farmsteads on the present reserve land.
An interesting piece of history surrounds the "Wagon route to Beaufort", a 4X4 route (refer under "Activities"). Almost half of the trail follows a historic wagon/horse route of the old days to the inland/ hinterland and was in use in the early 1800's. It was in common use until about 1862 when the current Bosluiskloof road/pass was built, shortly after the road through Seweweekspoort was completed. The new, much more accessible road, obviously changed forever the lives of the many pioneer settlers and trekboere who were already occupying large areas of the “inland”.
The road today is a cul de sac ending at the reserve’s eastern end (at the Gamkapoort Dam), that was built as an ox wagon/horse trail and never really upgraded to much higher standards. It was the link to Prince Albert and Beaufort, now Beaufort West.
It is also interesting to note that a whole century went past before a road was eventually built into the adjacent "Hell"/Gamkakloof in 1962, adding to the mystery of the people who preferred to stay on there and who had to keep on traversing on foot and by donkey. One can assume that there was contact between the pioneers in the Hell and those who stayed on Bosch Luys Kloof.
History of the Owners
Ans and I are nature lovers – not “green-mad”, just lovers of the outdoors, its beauty, silence & peace, holy presence and so on. Something inside us has inspired us through our whole life together to try to acquire a piece of land to bond with mother earth. Just about immediately after we got married we started looking for land – living in a small apartment in the northern suburbs of the Western Cape of South Africa! I completed my chartered accountancy education and Ans qualified as a teacher at the time.
After living for only about three years in a house in the more rural Durbanville area near Cape Town. We managed to buy and develop a smallholding in the Paarl district and were very happy there with some more space, some horses, etc.
Some two or three years later, about 1980, we started looking for more space! The wine, fruit & grape farms around Cape Town didn’t really excite us – we wanted open space! We realized that we had to cross the mountains.
In 1983 eventually we bought a farm in the Karoo, pulled up our ties in the Cape Peninsula and moved out to a beautiful farm between Laingsburg and Ladismith, bordering the Swartberg mountain range. We farmed with anything and everything and managed to be successful without knowing a thing about farming when we started! But again, after some time, we realized we were not really farmers – we just loved the land, the mountains, veld, water, etc. After a spell of about 7 years we moved back to the Durbanville area. I went back into diverse businesses, Ans started teaching again and all went well. After some three years we sold the farm.
But again it was only about two years later and the itch was back! We then started pursuing a beautiful big piece of land lying half deserted and unwanted in a secluded mountain valley in the Karoo – which we in fact saw years ago when we went farming. We were fascinated by the natural wildness and feel of Africa of this place. Old stories of leopard and jackal, caracal and baboon roaming freely catching livestock intrigued us. This was the unspoilt nature we were looking for at last. A year or two later in 1996 we managed to buy it. Just to have it, not thinking of moving there at all. Just to have and enjoy! I made a promise never to forget that we managed to buy it with “Higher Intervention” assistance and that we shall always manage it as a piece of land & nature where plant and animal and man can live together in peace – solely to enjoy. I planted a huge wooden cross in front of the old farmhouse to always make me remember that. It is presently high up on a hill overlooking the Lodge and chalets.
This place was big enough for us – at last! We did walkabouts for many years before we decided it was worth creating a nature reserve and to do some development to make it possible for more people to enjoy its beauty, presence and attraction! There is just such a shortage of such natural and undeveloped areas! After another spell of 15/16 years in business and in the profession, having been fortunate to serve on the Boards of directors of five listed companies, it was time to make a move or forget it!
The development took place from 2006 to 2009. The land and development is since known as The Bosch Luys Kloof Private Nature Reserve. The name derived from trilobites discovered when the Bosluiskloof Pass was built in 1862/3 – it resembled the looks of the unwanted “bosluis” (tick). I decided to keep the old historic name – with some resistance from Ans! I retired from the last Board in 2015.
Gerhard & Ans Rademeyer - 2010
Our involvement with Bosch Luys Kloof has reached maturity - it is more than 20 years since we bought the land! It is hard to believe that the years have passed so quickly since we moved here physically in 2006.
It has been a wonderful journey to put something together that can only grow in stature and relevance and uniqueness . Our dreams and ideals have been achieved to a great extent. There is so much to enjoy and do here, we are in no hurry to leave the "little" dream child.
Bosch Luys Kloof has fulfilled our vision of a piece of the world to just leave in peace with minimal interference. To let animal, bird, tree, bush, reign supreme! There are so few such places left .
Gerhard & Ans Rademeyer
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