Anysberg Nature Reserve, one of Cape Nature’s little explored gems, was my latest weekend getaway. Far from the rest of civilisation, I relaxed and rejuvenated. The Karoo can be harsh, but holds a special beauty for those who look closely. I captured just a day’s events at this special reserve. Take a look.
28 February 2015
Vrede, Anysberg Nature Reserve, somewhere in the Karoo
6:10: Light peeps in from a gap between the blinds and windowpane. The soft dawn light is changing fast, colouring the sky and landscape a different hue each second. In the distance, the jagged Towerkop peak stands out; the sun rising behind the adjoining folded mountains. In what seems a race, it makes a glorious entrance giving the Karoo veld a golden touch.
6:40: We head to the reservoir close to the Vrede office to greet the morning with coffee and buttermilk rusks. Rays of sunshine bounce off the sparking water.
7:45: Returned to the cottage and couldn’t resist lying in bed for a few minutes more. It is a holiday after all.
8:05: Sprung back to action to grab a bowl of cereal. The solar shower doesn’t seem to have much heat, so we’ll wait for the day to warm up.
8:30: Willem is ready to take us on a horse trail through the reserve. My horse, Knight, looks at me rather meekly. Soon we are off in the veld, with its low shrubs. The Karoo landscape is so much more alive when explored up close as opposed to racing through on the N1 highway.
8:50: The Rooidamme are drying up in the summer heat, but birdlife are chirping and fluttering their wings in the little water that remains in the main dam. Some of them will be thankful that they will not have to be disturbed by kayakers, at least until the winter rains fill the dams again.
9:15: Gemsbok stare curiously at us from a safe distance and red hartebeest take flight. The horses don’t seem bothered by them. Willem takes the lead on his horse and our horses obediently follow, trotting and cantering. I should have just left the camera lens behind – it keeps knocking against me.
9:55: The folds in the Anysberg mountain range become more apparent as the sun lights up its cliffs. The mountains seems to go on endlessly. The Karoo heat is becoming more intense – all I can think of is shade.
10:35: We’re back at the stables – Knight neighing to greet his fellow horses.
11:00: Horse riding can whack up an appetite so we snack on olive tapenade and cream cheese on savoury bread.
12:00: The timber deck adds a modern twist to the old farm reservoir, which serves as a refreshing pool. The water is surprisingly clear and cool. I then lounged at the pool side with a travel magazine, getting more travel inspiration.
13:45: Lunch time – cheese and tomato sarmies – simple, but delicious. We figure out that the shower geyser is in fact supplied by gas, but was turned off.
15:00: After a brief siesta, we are sipping on rooibos on the patio looking out at the harsh veld, with a gentle breeze in the shade.
16:45: Growing impatient for the late afternoon to bring cooler temperatures, we finally leave the cottage to hike towards Land se Kloof, where water formed a course through a gap in the Anysberg range. Along the way, it’s surprising to see the activity on the reserve – animal tracks gave clues to their presence. Apart from the hooved kind, we identified caracal by its tracks and by its drying, white, hair-filled faeces.
18:00: Close to the entrance to the kloof, we come across what looks to be a leopard track. Deep in the kloof, klipspringer bounce off the rocks to higher cliffs. The stream flows between and underneath rocks, and the water is cool and refreshing. It’s time to head back to the cottage before the sun goes down.
18:50: After hiking close to 10km, the setting sun is a welcome diversion to tired feet. The once harsh Karoo veld is again transformed into a magical landscape in the golden light.
19:15: The fire is lit for a braai – herb chicken, onions caramelised on the fire, chargrilled sweetcorn, and a simple Greek salad. In the quiet of the evening the jackal cries carry far across the veld.
21:10: Anysberg doesn’t go to sleep at night. The only lights inside the cottage are solar powered and once turned off, there’s no light pollution as far as the eye can see. We happen to be the only guests to savour the scene. We talk about satellites and orbits as we watch the brilliantly shining stars that city dwellers can only dream of. I lie flat on my back for a wide eye view of the heavens. There’s a ruffle in the bushes close by. Torches on, a pair of glowing eyes reflect in the beams. Suddenly, there are a few more eyes. We aren’t alone. They move seemingly closer, and stop to stare back at us. The low fence doesn’t afford much sense of safety, but they are probably more afraid of us. Judging by their height and gait, it looks like brown hyena, but in the darkness, we can’t tell for sure.
22:00: The sky becomes more dense with glittering stars by the time we head to bed. Feeling relaxed, I think about the Karoo and its beauty, the remoteness of Anysberg and think I must have fallen asleep with a smile.