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“Perfection in the Bush - A corporate retreat like no other” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat

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Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat
5.0 of 5 Lodge   |   Cederberg Mountains, Clanwilliam 8135, South Africa   |  
Hotel website
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Hotel amenities
Special Offer
2 Night Spa Break
Certificate of Excellence 2014
London
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
“Perfection in the Bush - A corporate retreat like no other”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 29, 2010

I was very fortunate last week to attend a corporate retreat with fifteen of my colleagues for five nights at Bushmans Kloof (BK). My colleagues are based around the world and travelled from Australia, Canada, Geneva, the US and the UK (myself included).

All of us had checked out the BK website and were pretty thrilled to find ourselves visiting a retreat like Bushmans Kloof on company credit - and we were not disappointed one iota.

My Room - I was in KP1, which is one of the Luxury Rooms (effectively their standard room) with twin beds. The room was definitely much bigger than a standard room and had a bathroom to die for - I only wish I'd had the time to enjoy the huge bathtub. The decor was lovely - definitely inspired by the lands of South Africa with stunning pictures on the walls and lovely touches. The staff knew I'd come from London and had popped in UK conversion plugs to help me out with my electronics. I found this very thoughtful.

The conference facilities were brilliant - great BB connection and beautifully set up. We had everything we needed to conduct our four-day seminar and workshops. There was an adjacent garden where they served our lunches and morning/afternoon teas in complete privacy. And the best bit – afternoon tea included cupcakes, scones, cream and jam – a little bit of home each day.

So here is my list of what we did:

Day 1 - arrived, unpacked and was driven to Embers for dinner. Embers is an open-air restaurant set in a mountain that you walk up 80 odd wooden steps where you find this amazing platform offering a 200-degree view of the reserve. The platform is lit by candlelight only and your food is cooked over fires on a raised platform near you. All the tables are set with heavy linen, huge hurricane lamps, ornate cutlery and flowers. It's like something from "Out of Africa" Gorgeous. And the food - the chef is called "Flo" and is a very talented man. They offered a full menu that worked for the entire party and the meats simply melted in your mouth. And the bathroom, you walk along a path to the most open bathroom I've ever seen looking over the sunset. And on top of all that, the chefs and waiters performed drums for us, sang and also danced. It was an experience I'd never had before and it was wonderful.

Day 2 - to each of our rooms were delivered mountain bikes (you have an outside patio where they sit) so at 7.10am we picked them up and rode out to a dam. I'm not very fit or able on a bike but I coped with a lot of huffing and puffing. Once we arrived at the dam we did yoga facing a sunrise (sure beats the heck out of classes in London - in the dark) for a half hour and then returned to the bikes to discover that the chefs had appeared and pulled together a healthy breakfast of fruits, pastries, smoothies and hot tea/coffee in the middle of the bush. It was all very healthy although I could have killed for a bacon sandwich. After breakfast we rode back to the Kloof, showered, changed and worked through to lunch. Lunch was fab and the food and attention to detail was great. Amazing beef fillets, amazing fruits, amazing pastries, mini steak and avocado baps, madness. I ate ALOT. Then back to work for the afternoon and later dinner, which we had at Makana. Makana is a kind of half open hall overlooking a massive dam (a different one) with water lilies in it. But first we headed down to the fire pit adjacent to the dam for cocktails (yeah pretty tough). Upon walking back to Makana we found the local school choir set up to sing especially for us - they were enchanting and sang a song that they'd written and had recently won a national singing comp. After they finished singing they then danced for us too - a local dance. We then sat down at a couple of tables and were joined by a charming local guide (Jaku) who told us all about his life in South Africa - a taste of the authentic SA lifestyle. Again food was amazing - this time local curries all with local produce that were scrumptious.

Day 3 - Again up at the crack of dawn, this time for a walk through the bush with guides who talked us through local flora and fauna. Upon our return to the Kloof we had breakfast in Makana, which again was great, although this time there was bacon, eggs etc - all the good stuff we Brits need to survive! But also all the healthy stuff that the Canadians/US wanted (fruit, muesli, yogurt – etc) After breakfast it was back to work - again a great lunch and then for dinner we ate in the Homestead from a formal la Carte menu. This time my table was joined by Graham (the manager) and his wife who talked about their life in South Africa and their plans for the Kloof. Fab food - I had the lamb and way to many mohitos. After dinner several of us sat around the bar enjoying various spirits - perhaps to excess - while the barman was very accommodating - his name is James and makes a mean and HUGE B52. ;o)

Day 4 - our last bike ride, hike, yoga beneath a waterfall and a demonstration of the amazing rock art. I may have been a tad hung over (I was not at my best) and after appreciating the morning's activities was astonished and pleased to find the magic chefs had again turned up out of nowhere and set up breakfast in the bush - this time above a stream and actually upon these really high rocks. But the best bit - they'd made bacon and egg sandwiches. After a mug of strong tea and a couple of sandwiches - plus all the amazing fresh air I felt nearly human again. Fortunately myself and several other merry makers from the night before didn't need to ride our bikes back - instead we popped our bikes in one of the trucks and got a lift back to the Kloof - thanks to Daniel the guide. Then it was back to work - another great lunch, more work and then dinner. I thought it couldn't get any more amazing but it did. So dinner – this was held at the Shepherd’s House. Basically at about 5.30 they took us out in the vehicles for a night safari where we saw Bontebok, Red Hartebeest, Grey Rhebok, Zebra, Porcupines, Baboons, Bat Eared Foxes (vegetarians apparently) and Ostrich. The safari lasted about forty-five minutes (again thanks to Daniel) and we ended up next to this huge tree where there were several stone houses all lit by candlelight. Absolutely amazing – Michell was our host and he was brilliant – all the food was cooked by a different chef (I think he’s called little Flo) over fires again. Fab food, loads of wine all lit by candles, even the bathroom has candles – just amazing. Michell said that couples use the house to propose, as it’s very remote and romantic. Obviously this wasn’t the case for our lot of work colleagues though. But again great food and great desserts in a magical spot. Back in the jeeps to return and then straight to bed.

Day 5 – we simply headed back to Cape Town in the morning after breakfast at Makana again.

So as you can see from my review – I was very impressed. I’ve never stayed anywhere like this for work before. And to be honest I’ve not stayed anywhere like this for personal holidays either – although I have stayed at plenty of five star resorts around the world. What I can honestly say is that the experience was life changing – the fresh air and the genuine warmth of the people and the environment made me change gear. I was able to focus on the work at hand in a way that I have never done before – but at the same time with the fresh air in my lungs, amazing food in my tummy and exposure to a different way of life – I have to question why on earth I live in London and commute each day as I do.

So now I’m home and waxing lyrical to my husband about Bushmans Kloof and how much he’d love it. Best I start saving my pennies so I can go back there again with him then!

  • Stayed May 2010, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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481 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
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London,England
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 23, 2010

This was our second visit to Bushmans Kloof and the experience was fantastic. From the welcome on arrival through to the time we left everything was perfect - and it had the added bonus of no mobile phone reception.
Hurrah - no annoying jingles, no-one shouting endless drivel that other guests do not wish to hear - to use the phone you have to retreat to the privacy of your room.
If only all luxury holdiay destinations could achieve this. If it is a complete break you are looking for then this is where you should head - walking in the plains amongst game, through the rocks to see Rock paintings - being taken out for sundowners before heading into the reserve for a dinner at a shepherds cottage lit with lamps and candles.
The guides/ranges really know their stuff too - the stars and distant planets - the fauna and flora - you can partake in game drives or walk your own. A perfect escape.

  • Stayed March 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Hampshire
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 8, 2010

Bushmans Kloof is a real treat for the traveller to SA. The accommodation is very well appointed - we stayed in the standard rooms and were more than happy. The public areas are beautifully furnished too. One of the factors which makes BK so special is the absolute tranquility - the loudest sound you will hear is bird song!

The game drives we had were very interesting - in large part to our wonderful young guide Zenobia who knew so much and was willing to share her passion with us. Do not come here to see the Big 5 but if you have an interest in nature and learning about your environment do. We also experienced star gazing on a fabulously clear night - an experience too magical for words.

Also worthy of mention was the food - do not come if you fear putting on weight! The day starts with hot croissants or muffins on the first drive of the day overlooking some beautiful spot on the reserve. Brunch is served when you return to the Lodge - a fabulous buffet to satisfy all tastes. High Tea comes around quickly at 4pm - best to stock up before the evening drive! This is a fabulous selection of sweet and savoury goodies. Finally dinner is served after your drive at one of three locations. The choice and quality was outstanding and the service also exceeded expectations.

There are many other activities on offer at BK or you can also just relax and soak up the peace. Whatever you do you are sure to enjoy your time there.

  • Stayed January 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Cape Town South Africa
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 8, 2010

We travelled to Busmanskloof during August 2009 for a quick break away from the Cape Town. Everything from the booking to our departure was completely seamless.

Whilst the drive from Cape Town may be somewhat arduous, the trip is well worth it and you will not believe how completely secluded this gem of a place is. (Pay particular care to the LONG dirt road one has to take to access the lodge, I would advise you come with a car with slightly higher clearance, although the road is currently undergoing extensive construction and we were infromed by staff that the raod would be fully tarred by mid next year June 2010).

We were welcomed by the manager who thouroughly explaiend everything to us and then promptly upgraded us to the best suite due to the fact that our room had been taken already. The suite was amazing to say the least and the decor fitted completely with the surroundings and the theme of the lodge.

From then everything was a dream, the food is heavenly (although our dinner was somewhat average on the second night). They feed you pretty well all through the day with a great selection of food for brunch, tea and supper.....

Make sure you take a morning or afternoon game drive (I preferred the morning) and ensure you insist on Jaco the guide, he is superb! The bushman paintings are something too see and truly took my trip to the next level. Dont miss this!

All in all a wonderful trip, although at a price, we travelled during the Cape winter to take advantage of reduced prices, but even these would make your eyes water. One interesting point to note, all the staff were quite young, I would estimate below the age of 25, but they were extremely professional and always knew where you were and what you were doing (they carried walky talkies with them at all times), so everthing was well timed and the service was immaculate.

I thought two nights was sufficient to experience this peaceful paradise. For us the true attraction of the place is the wonderful setting, you have this extremely luxurious lodge set in between a thousnad craggy mountains, and it rises like a mirage when you approach it.

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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East of England
Top Contributor
123 reviews 123 reviews
75 hotel reviews
Reviews in 72 cities Reviews in 72 cities
152 helpful votes 152 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 25, 2009

We loved everything about Bushmans Kloof. The staff were wonderful - nothing was too much trouble for them - our suite `Riverside` was utterly superb and the spa treatments were heavenly. The new spa gazebo overlooking the river is just perfect.

Michel recommended perfect wines each evening and the choice of venue (changing each evening) for dining made dinner an even more remarkable and romantic experience.

Sundowners from the back of our guide`s Landrover after the evening drive accompanied by local dried meat was super.

Visiting the rock art sites was amazing; do try canoeing (your guide will arrange this for you) as some of the sites are only visible from the water

Altogether a wonderful experience and I recommend Bushmans Kloof unreservedly.

  • Stayed November 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Plattsburgh, New York
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
24 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
50 helpful votes 50 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 18, 2009

My wife and I had a three night stay at Bushman's Kloof on our first trip to South Africa. At the outset, let me say that all the accolades are deserved. It was as fine a lodging experience as we have ever had.
In fairness to such a special resort, I do wish to first provide information as to what type of property this is and what it is not, since I think there are some misconceptions about it. First, Bushman's Kloof, while a game reserve is not like the private game reserves everyone hears about bordering Kreuger National Park. Let's start with the location. It is almost due north of Cape Town and therefore not on the normal tourist byways of South Africa. If traveling by car, one enters rural countryside not long after leaving Cape Town. You shortly come to farm territory and this landscape continues the rest of the way. Eventually you ascend into the Cederberg Mountains. It is lovely countryside. Not long after you pass through the farm town of Clanwilliam, the landscape changes. It reminded us of Arizona, but greener. The buildings of Bushman's Kloof are 8 kilometers into the property down a dirt road. As explained to us, Bushman's Kloof was created by the purchase of 4 contiguous farms and totals almost 20,000 acres.
No, you will not see the "Big Five" or many of the other types of animals you would find in Kreuger. It is not in that part of the country. So, if this is what you are looking for, then don't go there. It is also not jungle-like at all, but, as I said, more American Southwest. Animals abound but they are of the smaller variety, springbok, ostriches, oryxes, zebras. The viewing setup is similar to that of the game reserves in Kreuger, morning and late afternoon drives in Land Cruisers. However, unike the Big Game Reserves, the morning drives start at 8 o'clock rather than 5 or 5:30. The daily routine was accurately described in a prior posting so I will not repeat it.
What made Bushman's Kloof so special was that it scored so high on all levels, meticulous yet unsnobbish service, tasteful accomodations, wonderful buildings and landscaping and excellent food and drink. The bruch after the game drive takes place in a covered outdoor venue open on three sides. While there is no luch, per se, the "high tea" in mid-afternoon is really a fabulous lunch. Before dinner, drinks are served at a neat bar in the main lodge. Depending on the weather dinner is served either outside or indoors. The main lodge has a great lobby/sitting room area and there is a hot water pool outside this building as well as unheated pools throughout the property. Unlike the Big Game Reserves, you are free to walk during the day on two trails that traverse the property. And, as was noted in a prior review, if you are concerned about malaria, this is not an issue here because of its location. Speaking of location, if you are in South Africa without a car and don't have the finances to fly to Bushman's Kloof, you can do what we did and arrange to be picked up in Cape Town and driven to and from the property. Bushman's Kloof is associated with the Twelve Apostles Hotel in Camps Bay and our driver worked out of there. The other neat characteristic of Bushman's Kloof is that in addition to the game viewing, you have the added attraction of numerous rock-art sites that you get to visit on the morning drive.
Lastly, any review of Bushman's Kloof would not be complete without another specific reference to the service. I have never been at any property where the staff tried harder to please. On our stay, the manager, Michel, the food and beverage manager, James, and our ranger Jacku were beyond superb.
I hope this review is informative for those who might be considering staying there.

  • Stayed October 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
carocha
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 1, 2009

My wife and I stayed at the hotel for two nights as we were looking for a malaria free reserve given my wife was 5 months pregnant and and really enjoyed the whole experience.

The drives to see the animals were fun although there is not the same wildlife on display as you may see in the bigger reserve parks. what made up for it were the helpful and friendly ranger staff who took the time to explain anything you wanted. The food was great and especially enjoyed the dining under the stars. What was sepcial to both of us is that the hotel managed to combine having staff who were extremely helpful with lots of activities that you could go off and do independentdly. Lastly the nature and views are breathtaking and it is an amazing place to relax and put all the stress behind you

Not sure if this is the best hotel in the world as travel and leisure claims but would certainly recommend it for anyone looking for that special experience.

  • Stayed March 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Additional Information about Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat

Address: Cederberg Mountains, Clanwilliam 8135, South Africa
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > Western Cape > Clanwilliam
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Spa
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 19 Specialty Lodging in Clanwilliam
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat 5*
Number of rooms: 16
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Ancient landscapes of wind-sculpted sandstone and untamed bush frame this luxury retreat, 270km from Cape Town. Voted ‘Best Hotel in the World 2009’ in the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards, the malaria-free reserve is an ecological oasis for diverse wildlife, and custodian of 130 ancient San rock art sites renowned as one the ‘world’s largest open air art galleries’. Evening nature drives and exhilarating outdoor adventures offset an invigorating wellness focus, featuring an outdoor spa gazebo and spa treatments rooted in nature. Delectable cuisine distinguishes this authentic African wilderness escape, while luxurious accommodation includes Koro Lodge, the child-friendly private villa. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat Hotel Clanwilliam
Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve And Wellness Retreat

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