Every place has its own story to tell, its exposed and hidden beauty to share, its purpose and its promise to uphold. Some live up to our expectations and others supersede them. Heron House does just that – it delivers all that it says on the packaging, and then more – unravelling itself to reveal the most tranquil, alluring sanctuary within the private Elandsberg Nature Reserve. Elegantly standing beneath the ancient oaks, this hideaway quietly resides upon the Victorian homestead of Bartholomeus Klip overlooking the Limiet Mountain Range, the Riebeek Valley and the farmlands it inhabits.
Set on two levels of open plan, laid-back living – with its five spacious bedrooms, fully equipped kitchen, enchanting garden, delightful front deck and swimming pool – this colourful hideaway lends itself to groups of families and friends to gather together and completely immerse themselves in glorious country living, amidst one of the most ecologically valuable conservation areas in South Africa. Just over an hour’s drive from Cape Town, the property is set on 4500 hectares of untouched terrain – recently denounced a natural heritage site – and 2000 hectares of sheep and wheat farmlands.
You’ll rise with the notorious call of the fish eagles, as they span their mighty wings above the dam, hunting ahead of the jackal buzzards. Early morning game drives, guided hikes and tortoise trails are on offer for the eager early birds of the group. Climb aboard the game vehicle and watch how the wildebeest, porcupines, ostriches, eland, mongooses, springbok, baboons, Cape mountain zebras, bat-eared foxes, honey badgers, and the rare Rau Quaggas announce dawn. In tune with a choir of over 150 bird species that sing the wildflowers to life. For those that’d rather greet the day less energetically, the guided activities will resume in the evening (for some lucky leopard spotting), after hours spent swimming, canoeing, paddle-boarding and windsurfing in the dam. Or just simply snoozing on the banks beneath the oaks, watching the kingfishers and cormorants dart about the reeds, as you snack from the picnic basket. Or perhaps the kids would like to experience the workings of the farm and witness the skill of the sheep dogs as they round up herds of up to 3000 merino sheep.
When it comes to feasting, Heron House has all of the fun and fancy appliances to completely self-cater. Breakfast, dinner and a full braai platter, with locally sourced produce for the whole group, can be ordered and delivered to the house. On the occasion that a bit of fine-dining might take your fancy, adults can dine at the farmhouse for brunch or dinner in the conservatory.
The packaging just continues to unravel throughout the hours of the day, ensuring each one is golden and spent to your whole heart’s content.
What we love!
- With over 820 wildflower species – including the endangered Swartland fynbos – the botanical value of the reserve is sacred to the land, and deeply embedded in the ethos of the practice of the farm. Commitment to conservation is paramount and that transpires into the wildlife too, where the Rua Quagga roams and the endangered geometric tortoise is sternly protected.
- The magnificent views of the mountains and the reserve that unfold right in front of the deck. You are completely wrapped up in the wilderness.
- The stillness and romance of the candle-lit deck at night, with the sounds of the bush around.
What you need to know…
- If you feel you must leave the property, Bartholomeus Klip is 20 minutes from the Riebeek Kasteel, Swartland and Tulbagh wineries, and less than an hour’s drive from the West Coast.
- Wild Olive House – directly adjacent Heron House – is also available if additional accommodation is required for even larger groups.
- As the reserve is occupied by a variety of large and small wild species, you are reminded that you are entering their natural environment and are obliged to be a well-mannered, respectful guest.
- A team of lovely staff are there to service the property and look after you for the duration of your stay.
By Colleen Ogilvie