Bosch Luys Kloof Private Nature Reserve, situated in a malaria and pollution free Karoo area in the Western Cape, a true Karoo Retreat.
A true Karoo Retreat - The unique nature and wildlife experience at Bosch Luys Kloof presents nature at its pure & unspoiled beauty - no artificial human interventions. Game roams freely, no traffic, no electricity lines, tele poles/lines - no other man-made structures in sight! No pollution. All for guests to enjoy - from their chalets, on nature or 4x4 drives, by biking or hiking, etc.
Birding in January
January is not the best birding month for the Great Karoo, but despite this guests Kath and Gerry Aggis from Colchester UK, keen birders who visited us from 13 till 16 January had a final bird count of 53 species over their three day stay
Our record to date, being in the month of September, was 65 species over a three day stay. This was in 2016 with some waterbirds also being present when the Gamkapoort dam still had some water in it
Very well done to Kath and Gerry, also for adding a few more species (Steppe Buzzard and African Reed Warbler amongst others) to the list. We have noticed that dwindling water bodies in other areas have led to the movement of interesting species not usually found at Bosch Luys Kloof through our valley in search of surface water. Only this morning (25 Jan) our guide spotted a Giant Kingfisher at the lodges garden reservoir, likely hoping to grab itself a goldfish on its way to greener pastures.January 2019
Departure of Assistant Nature Guide
Bianca Janse van Rensburg, who joined us in October 2018 as assistant Nature Guide, has left Bosch Luys Kloof to take up to join her family in the wine industry again and to continue to study viticulture.
We wish her the best of luck for her future there!January 2019
Sunida van der Westhuizen, who was with us as chef for the most of 2019 has moved to Namibia to join her fiance. Our best wishes to you and Alwyn- may you have a bright future together!
Our new chef, Christy-Anne Foord, joined us in January and has already received good reviews from guests. Christy, 26 years old, comes from a diverse background ranging from a degree in psychology, courses in massage therapy and back to her declared real passion - Food! She did her training through the South African Chefs Academy in Cape Town finishing in the top three and has worked for the likes of Bertus Basson at his fine dining restaurants Overture and Eike in Stellenbosch .
We believe that Christy will be a great asset to the business and look forward to what she brings to the table.
Welcome Christy!January 2019
Tortoises, drought influences etc.
Refer to News Flashes of Feb 2018
After having found even more dead tortoises in the veld we realise that there are more factors contributing to the deaths than previously thought.
We are actually dumbfounded by the amount of dead tortoises we are finding. The sustained drought has definitely had a marked effect everywhere and this is evident on many levels and aspects at Bosch Luys Kloof.
We suspect that the abnormally high amount of dry plant material that the animals are forced to eat also has a marked effect. Simply because there is not enough new growth / green material in the veld.
Recently, a lion in Karoo National Park was photographed eating two leopard tortoises, one after the other!
We are finding that the Cape Leopard that occur naturally at Bosch Luys Kloof are also utilising different prey size and lately started going for your bigger animals like young kudus, it might be because smaller prey items are dispersing and abundance thereof is declining because of the ongoing drought.
Our hands-off approach is still implemented, we do not interfere with nature (we have not supplied any feed yet). We truly hope 2019 will bring an end to the ongoing drought.
In the meantime the strongest will survive.December 2018
Father and son add interesting new addition to bird list
Christopher Parsons (15yrs) and his father Andrew who visited Bosch Luys Kloof with their family in December for five days were lucky enough to spot a bird that was not previously on the Bosch Luys Kloof bird list.
Father and son spent a while at our Prammetjie waterholes birdhide on 19 December, and saw amongst other species an interesting kingfisher. Fortunately Christopher could take a very clear photograph of the kingfisher, and after paging through bird books later on at the lodge they were able to identify it as a Half-Collared Kingfisher!
The status of this beautiful kingfisher in South Africa is near threatened and they normally avoid dams or slow flowing water bodies. The fact that they prefer clear, well-vegetated fast-flowing streams in forested areas shows how lucky Andrew and Christopher were to see this bird at Bosch Luys Kloof. We have now added it to our bird list, and for interests sake a photo of it to our website's gallery (Image 79). Thank you Andrew and Christopher.December 2018
Discovering more history
During October we covered different areas of the reserve on foot taking note of tracks and signs of animals to track their movements and get a rough idea of numbers and the effects of a three year drought on the different species at Bosch Luys Kloof. On one such excursion into a little kloof known as "Verneukskloof" the guys made an interesting discovery.
About 2km up the kloof they came across patches of water! Further on, up the kloof they discovered the ruins of another pioneer settlement which no one knew of. The ruins include a pioneer house, stone packed livestock kraals, a cement water trough as well as a donkey threshing floor, etc. This settlement is about 3km east from the well-known Hartmanns settlement on our Wagon Route hiking trail. These two families must have known each other. It could well be a descendent of JP Hartmann himself. Some porcelain and ceramic remnants of bowls, plates,etc where also found.
Alike the Hartman settlement, this settlement also lies just below a permanent water source, that is still trickling even today.
The "Verneukskloof" settlement adds even more value to the already history-rich Bosch Luys Kloof and in the near future we plan to add yet another hiking trail to share these historical findings with our guests.November 2018
Spring - Flora
We often have guests asking what the best time of year is to visit to see flowers…and this is always a tough question. The answer is governed by various climatic conditions (when the winter rain falls, when the spring sun heats up sufficiently after winter and so on). This year towards the end of September and in the first two weeks in October, despite the lack of sufficient rain, various plants came to the party dressed in different shades of purple, yellow, blue red and white. Doring vygies flowered en masse on the lower flats of the reserve, the Karoo violets were out in abundance all over and up the pass the Polygala's also made an appearance. Klapperbos flowers blushed shades of pink and here and there cancer bush blooms popped out.
The end of September and October is most often a good time for vygies and various other plants to bloom.
Our greatest joy was when the Sweet Thorn/ Soetdoring Trees (Acacia Karoo) managed to spread out their magnificent green foliage once again. Because of the ongoing drought we were holding our breaths!October 2018
New Nature Guide
At the end of September we said goodbye to nature guide, Lanita Barnard. Lanita has been a part of the Bosch Luys Kloof team since January this year.
Lanita served Bosch Luys Kloof well and was a valuable member of our team. We wish her all the best whilst looking for new horizons.
Bianca Janse van Rensburg joined us at the beginning of October and has quickly emersed herself in the Bosch Luys Kloof culture. She studied a NDip in Game Ranch Management succesfully at Nelson Mandela University and completed her practical training year at Buffelsdrift Game Lodge in Oudtshoorn in the Little Karoo in 2017.
Bianca is from Stellenbosch, where she has been working temporarily at the Baruch Guesthouse before joining us.
She a capable and enthusiastic young lady whom we are sure will be a great asset to the team.October 2018
To Hell & Gone – New Benchmark for the Ladder!
From 3 till 12 August we were happy to host the Collins family and friends for Andre & Barbara’s birthdays and anniversary.They all enjoyed our range of drives, hikes, trails, etc.
An interesting point. Andre & friends did a trip via the “To Hell & Gone” 4x4 track and decided to do an up & down climb of the Ladder. The new benchmark is 26.5 minutes that Andre took to walk/jog up the ladder from the bottom to our picnic spot right at the top! He gave permission that we may add his age --- 70 yrs young!
Andre is well known as a Springbok canoe-ist and Ironman competitor – currently under the top three in the world. In the very active group there were various other Ironman, Cape Epic and other event competitors!August 2018
Walking in a Winter Wonderland
Things are cooling down quite a bit here in the Great Karoo! Snow has recently fallen on the top of the Bosch Luys Kloof pass and at the reserves main gate.
On the 2nd of July, staff and guests alike couldn't help but take a moment or two to brave the cold and walk in a Karoo 'winter wonderland' as the snow flakes covered our Mountain Fynbos.
With clear skies overnight, temperatures down at the lodge dropped to -2°C! Following massive cold fronts blowing in from Cape Town, it was not surprising that snow soon followed.
The snow is unfortunately not long-lived on the pass itself (temperatures during the day are moderate), but the Seweweekspoort Peak still boasts an icy white blanket. As winter progresses she might keep her cold exterior for a while? As the snow melts we can only look forward to the beautiful Seweweekspoort streams swelling and bringing new life. Hence the Swartbergs Khoi-khoi name Cango, meaning 'Mountains of water'
As for now, we here at Bosch Luys Kloof will keep the winter-fires burning high!July 2018
Cat versus Dog!
We have noticed a decline in Black-Backed Jackal at Bosch Luys Kloof in the last year or two. On guided drives over the years sightings of jackal were not uncommon, often more than just one were sighted per drive. Their nostalgic calls would regularly usher in the Karoo night, but lately we seldom hear them call. We have however noticed a trend: fewer signs of jackal, but an increase in sightings of Cape Mountain Leopard.
Another female leopard was photographed on the motion camera in broad daylight in the same location as the Cape Clawless otter, and a large male was photographed closer to our eastern boundary feeding off a zebra carcass. Leopard home area ranges vary in size depending on the availability of food. We have identified at least four different cats based on markings to date, being a good indication that their natural prey are sufficient.
Being opportunistic, they readily feed from rotting carcasses, and it is also possible that an increase in this source of food due to the drought in the Western Cape has attracted more leopard to this area. Leopard are known to actively hunt and kill jackal as they compete for the same food, especially in the Western Cape where the cats take smaller prey items than they do up north. We are however inclined to think that the increase in leopard numbers has had a negative effect on our jackal population. Luckily, both of these predators are extremely resilient, with Panthera pardus (Leopard) being the most widespread and succesful of all the large cats, and despite relentless persecution by livestock and game farmers, the jackal is still widely distibuted in this sub-region.
It seems that, for now, the nights belong to the silent stalkers, and that in this instance, 'Once the dogs are away the cats will play'!Junie 2018
Cape Clawless Otter - a rare sight
Due to the limited number of natural surface waterbodies at Bosch Luys Kloof we were pleasantly surprised to capture a Cape Clawless Otter on the motion camera in the last few days of May!
Above the ruins of one of the old pioneer cottages (~1800's) on the reserve, at a rare constant spring with a small perennial stream we captured two images of a fat and healthy looking otter.
The Bosch Luys Kloof river is intermittent, only flowing after good rain in the valley itself, or further upstream, but prey items for the otter such as crabs, frogs, birds and insects are still present in pockets such as this spring on the reserve even in drier times.
Otters are usually absent from most of the dry interior of the subregion, and we are very happy to have this little fellow and hopefully a few more of his relatives, calling Bosch Luys Kloof home.May 2018
The 5th paragraph of the history of the owners refer to our wooden cross on the hill overlooking the riverine bush and southern hills and mountains.
In the meanwhile Ans has developed a spiritual path up the hill with some physical "works of art" along the way up. A leaflet is available giving insight in some thoughts as you proceed up the hill. Something was still missing.
Finally we found an artist in Mossel Bay that was willing to build a 2.5 meter Angel - using his trademark of basically scrap metal. The Angel has arrived about a month ago and is looking out over the valley with spreaded wings!
A troop of baboons that is usually in this area are also looking at this new wonder! They are circling it and are sitting around it BUT have up to now not climbed onto it.
We trust the Angel will not allow that…Gerhard & Ans
We are happy to mention that we have reached the 150 plus comments level at Tripadvisor.Gerhard & Ans
Aware of our mission to do our utmost to make our guests' visit special, we are very happy to mention that we had 145 "Excellent"comments out of a total of 154!!
Add to that 7 "Very Good" comments, and we are really proud of the achievement.
Given our location 50 plus km from the nearest town, our full board offer is a challenge but we have succeeded according to those comments and the many in our Guest Comments Book.
We are grateful and thankful to our staff also doing their best all the time.
TORTOISES - tragedy
The severe drought that the Western Cape and the Karoo has experienced since 2015 has naturally impacted on the vegetation and animals of Bosch Luys Kloof alike. And in ways you would never expect.
With our policy of no interference in the natural environment at Bosch Luys Kloof, unexpected things happen. And we are just lucky to learn of some.
Our Leopard Tortoise population has been indirectly affected by the drought and in a way no one would expect.
A lengthy period of minimal rain results in a lack of greenery and new growth, also a lack of flowers and seeds. With green plants containing more protein essential for growth and muscle accumulation than dry carbohydrate rich plant material, omnivores such as the Chacma baboon will supplement their own protein requirements with anything from scorpions and invertebrates, carrion and small antelopes to birds eggs.
And as we recently found out --- even tortoise eggs.
It likely only took one baboon figuring out there is a protein rich source of eggs inside a pregnant female tortoise and then they were onto them. With terrible consequences. We have come across a number of dead female tortoises and in some cases we could ascertain that they were killed - lying on their backs with a trail of broken eggs clearly visible. Turned on their back the tortoises are of course defenseless. Cruel -- but survival favours the fittest and most adaptable --- the very intelligent Chacma baboon, hundreds of which inhabit Bosch Luys Kloof.
The largest tortoise shell picked up was nearly 50 cm long.February 2018 - Nature Guides
CAR WRECK IN PASS - "To Heaven & Gone"
The old car wreck that can be seen from our Pass has been identified ! It is a 1937 Plymouth P3.
This is how they looked in their prime ---
What happened and when remains a question. Look out for the sign "To Heaven & Gone".MANAGEMENT - December 2017
Our thanks to Pieter Olckers of Prince Albert who climbed down to the wreck, managed to trace the serial number and identified the car.
Love is in the Air!
Spring has arrived.
The Birse-Stewart couple from Scotland visited us on the week-end of 20/22 October as part of their honeymoon in South Africa.
At the same time the Beukes/Morkel couple from our West Coast visited us and on the lovely afternoon were engaged.
They had a nice time and good company with also the De Villiers couple who visited us again after they enjoyed their 25th wedding anniversary here a few months ago!
Maybe something to do with our little road running past the chalets : "Route Sexy Too" (in competition with Route 62)October 2017
Old friends re-unite in the Boslus bar
We recently hosted guests Jaco and Georgina Steyn from Ceres , Cape at Bosch Luys Kloof. Georgina was pleasantly surprised to bump into an old friend in the Boslus bar, a 1963 Dias Magnum bottle of port , the label which she had designed 29 years ago! A limited selection of these bottles were released, and the label won an international prize at the Finat competition in The Hague, Holland, for the printwork done on it in 1988! Georgina says it is the first time she has seen one of these bottles since working on them nearly 30 years ago . This 1963 Vintage port, bottled from casks was released in 1988 as a commemoration 500 years after Bartholomew Diaz' landing in Mossel Bay in 1488.August 2017
Eland calves lighten the mood
The continuing drought ensures its day-to-day challenges, but Bosch Luys Kloof has received some good news when our guide spotted three eland calves among the herd. These calves were only a few days old and are a sure sign that the eland population is not negatively affected by the drought but still shows positive population growth. Calves can be dropped throughout the year after a gestation period of approximately 270 days and remain hidden by the mother for the first two weeks. Eland are highly adaptable to changing environments and calves can achieve a mass of 450kg by the end of their first year.July 2017
Spy in the bush
Our motion camera is proving to be quite the 'spy in the bush'. On 14 May around midday another honey badger was photographed strolling down an isolated kloof on the north eastern end of the reserve. Not long afterwards the same badger came back up past the camera triumphantly carrying a freshly killed dassie - lunch. Judging from the bite wounds to the dassies head we assume that the badger pulled the dassie from a crack in the rock where it had retreated to. This is interesting behaviour. Badgers are mostly nocturnal or crepuscular (active early morning/dusk). They might adopt diurnal habits (active at night and during the day, in shifts) where there is little to no human interference, or during winter months. The following day two badgers were once again photographed together in the same kloof. It is possible that badgers in this area have adapted their habits to specialize in also targeting dassies due to the abundance of this prey item. See photo's 64 & 65 on our Gallery Page
A third series of photographs of Cape Mountain leopard was also captured on 20 May to the west of the lodge. Judging from the three different shot sequences we have so far we can be fairly sure that at least two different cats have been photographed here.May 2017
'Karoo' is derived from the khoi language and directly translated means 'land of thirst/dry'. Similarly the word 'Cango' used widely in the area was the khoi name for the Swartberg mountains that translates basically to 'mountains of water'. Well this part of the Karoo has been living up to its name and reputation for a long time now, but finally on Saturday 8 April a shower of 21mm, with another 19mm falling the following afternoon quenched the thirst at Bosch Luys Kloof! In the 'Cango' mountains near Prince Albert, Thomas Bain's famous Swartberg PASS became IMPASSABLE. Luckily the Bosluiskloof pass was built mainly on shale rock and did not take any noteworthy damage and is passable.
Our river flowed for the first time in 15 months and the Karoo vegetation, as always, is quick to react to these favourable conditions. Within a week the otherwise grey bushes were covered in green shoots and many are now in flower.April 2017
Leopard on camera again
We have managed to capture another Cape Mountain Leopard on camera at Bosch Luys Kloof. Photographed around 20h00 on 12 April, the right hand side of the cat is in full view (head as well) this time but unfortunately it is hard to tell whether this is the same leopard previously photographed .The camera uses a PIR for night photography so four successive shots were possible with no flash shying the animal off.
This section of sparsely populated and unspoilt mountain wilderness is a haven for the Cape Mountain Leopard, and being such elusive creatures it comes as little surprise that author Justin Fox describes them as one of the 'Impossible Five'.April 2017
Elusive leopard caught on camera
We finally have our elusive leopard on camera! In the early hours of the morning on 5 February what looks to be a female Cape Mountain Leopard was caught on our camera trap approaching a baboon carcass. Leopards are opportunistic cats and will feed on carrion.
Our nature guide / manager came across a "not so well looking" large male Chacma Baboon on an afternoon drive at one of our waterholes. The following day the baboon was found dead at the same spot. He moved the carcass a short distance from the water and set up his motion camera. That same night he captured the leopard on camera.
Have a look at the photo on our photo gallery on the web - nr 62 & 63.
The Cape Leopard is extremely shy and is almost never seen during daytime. But they are everywhere in the Western Cape! Fortunately there is no record that they have ever attacked the human species!February 2017
Strange Honey Badger behaviour
You can spend months even years in a given area without seeing certain species more than a handful of times, others you will never see. Our guide recently acquired a trail/motion camera and was extremely lucky on his first placement to capture not one but three mature honey badgers in a valley that seldom sees any human activity. The camera uses PIR (infra red) rather than a flash to photograph at night. A flash will often frighten animals off, making a second shot impossible. We were lucky enough to capture a series of photographs of the three badgers, possibly two males tailing a receptive female, as they set about their nightly activities. Honey Badgers are usually solitary, but will band together to mate, so to have evidence of three adults together is exciting. See photo's 60 & 61 on our Gallery page.December 2016
Bosch Luys Kloof pioneer trekkers!
Ed Meyer and his son in law, Chris Das, visited us recently. Ed's great grandfather, Carl Meyer and his wife Hanna, trekked from the Amalienstein Berlin Mission station in 1878 into the vast hinterland to start another mission station in Kimberley. Carl's father, moving here from Germany, started the mission station in Amalienstein in 1858. Carl, married Hanna Dietrich in the beautiful old church that is still the Lutheran Church in Amalienstein today!
They trekked to Kimberley in 1878 soon after the wedding, starting with an 18 ox-wagon. The Seweweeks Poort wagon route was completed in about 1864 and the Bosch Luys Kloof pass shortly thereafter.
Hanna was known as an adventurous lady who wouldn’t shy away from any new adventure. It is written that they thoroughly enjoyed the trek through the beautiful but rugged partly tamed Africa. At the confluence of two rivers (probably Gamka Poort Dam today) they parted with the oxen that had to return to Amalienstein and trekked on with a then "converted" mule wagon, pulled by 10 mules! To travel this same road today and to think about that very adventurous journey by oxwagon, was a nostalgic and emotional experience for Ed. That did not stop him from enjoying the visit and some good wine!October 2016
More about birding - Young enthusiasts!
We have been visited by the Buckham family earlier in the month. Apart from being fantastic guests two of the young guys, Thomas (13) and Adam (11), managed to list 63 bird species within their three day stay! Only two very experienced previous guests achieved a 60+ count.
Well done again guys!!
Birding is enjoyed by the family - during the visit their father was on a birding expedition in Panama!October 2016
We were visited by Vernon Head, the chairman of BirdLife South Africa, and his family in early September.September 2016
He wrote back to us -
"You should tell guests that it is possible to see over 40 species from the deck of a chalet! My final count from the front deck was 42 species, 39 of which were seen in two hours while having coffee on the first morning! This does not happen even in the Kruger National Park!"
Vernon is the author of "The Search for the Rarest Bird in the World", published in 2014 and worth a read.
His total spot over the three days was 65 species!
The Bain Connection
In 1862, Adam de Smidt completed construction of the route through Seweweekspoort, down the now historic and breathtaking Bosch Luys Kloof pass and on through Bosch Luys Kloof valley to Prince Albert. His brother-in-law, the man with the theodolite eye, Thomas Bain and his friend Dr Atherstone travelled along this road in 1871. In July we were thrilled to host the Bain family; Peter, Alison, Elizabeth and Georgina Bain at Bosch Luys Kloof. 145 years after the great mountain pass builder Thomas Bain travelled this road on horseback, his great grandson and his family travelled this road to Bosch Luys Kloof lodge…on four rubberized wheels. Both Peter and Alison are qualified pilots, and although they thoroughly enjoyed driving down their ancestors pass, suggested a suitable location on the reserve for a small runway…the theodolite eye seems to have been inherited.June 2016
Hiking, Trailrunning & MTB route - new
We are pleased to announce that we have recently completed a new trail for guests to enjoy. This latest one boasts some spectacular scenery, with viewpoints including one overlooking Bosch Luys Kloof River Canyon (one of our Big Five walks) and great views of Seweweekspoort peak (highest in Western Cape). There is a short circular version we have named 'Die Kruine' or 'The Crest' which is approx 4km, and then there is the longer version. We have dubbed this one 'To Moer and Gone', to compliment our 'To Hell n Gone' route ( The Beginning and The End ! ) The exact distance of this route from start to finish still needs to be ascertained, but roughly 10 km. A brilliant trail for both hikers and trailrunners alike, and dedicated possibly mountainbike (or downhill mountainbike) enthusiasts will be able to enjoy a few sections of the route on the saddle, though pushing or carrying will be necessary over other sections. Come and enjoy this new route.July 2016
We hosted a freelance travel blogger and avid trailrunner at Bosch Luys Kloof recently. She crammed as many activities as possible into her short stay with us. On her day of arrival, a cycle trip to and back from Zoar (R62 turnoff) through the iconic Seweweekspoort and a guided nature drive through the reserve. Acclimatized, the following morning she did a trailrun along a shortened version of our Shepherds Trail 4x4 route before breakfast, and cycled to the Gamkapoortdam and back afterwards, managing to fit in some R & R upon her return to the lodge. The following morning before breakfast she trailran our challenging Wagon Route to Beaufort 4x4 track before breakfast, in 1.5hrs…a round trip which takes hikers up to 4hrs to complete from the lodge, and can take longer in a 4x4!
She rated Bosch Luys Kloof as a destination with wonderful MTB & trailrunning opportunities. Confirming the views expressed by other guests.
We are planning to open another route in 2016 that promises to be spectacular.
Keep going Taryn !!January 2016
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