A family escape to Anysberg Nature Reserve in the Klein Karoo is a chance to reconnect with nature – and each other. By Bongani Mgayi, pictures by Riaan Vermeulen
This school holiday my family and I disappeared into the Klein Karoo, far away from the lights of the city. We submitted ourselves to the mountains, veld and wild things of Anysberg Nature Reserve.
We arrived at twilight uncertain what to expect. The old symbol of the Karoo – the windmill – ushered us in, as Unathi and Lihle swung open the main gate into the reserve. A curious jackal and a herd of kudu joined the welcome party – immediately lifting the spirits of my kids, who had endured the four-hour drive from Cape Town.
The ultimate family holiday?
When morning came we realised that there is much to do here for adults and children alike. But don’t bother to keep a to-do-list; the Karoo has a way to slow down your pace. A few hours here and you will find yourself easily ambling from one thing to the other. For a few days we had the whole reserve to ourselves. We had lots of veld to cross and lots of koppies to climb.
By mid-morning, we left for Land se Kloof, with intentions to get an elevated view of the reserve and to see the waterfall. We began this trip in the back of a 4×4 bakkie, driven by Nkosinathi Moyo and Ishmael Wambi, the reserve’s field rangers. The kids enjoyed the bumpy ride, which made them imagine how previous generations would have travelled on ossewa through the valleys of the Karoo. The bakkie took us as far as it could into the gorge and from there we jumped off to see some rock paintings. Now how many kids get to see Bushman rock art?
Once the kids got over the excitement of a dassie fleeing up the rocks, it was time to inspect these rare paintings. Looking at the paintings made the experience real for the kids – people actually walked and lived here.
From here we followed the route of the stream flowing down the gorge. The kids were determined to trace the source of the water they drank in our cottage. My three-year-old, Lungi, slurping water from his tiny hands, kneeling over the water bank is priceless. Right there my boy was inducted into the bush.
One of my favourite things was that there was no cellphone reception. For days on end I could not make or receive phone calls. Though this was a shock to my system at first, it proved to be just what I needed to clear the mind and rejuvenate the body.
Leaving this place we felt there was still plenty to be seen and done. The morning we left we were sent off by two red hartebeest, browsing a stone’s throw away from our cottage.
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