Athi-Patra Ruga’s iridescent art on black pioneers + more in Sculpture Garden
Wolfkop camping villages + cottages: New activities added
Bodyboard down the Olifants River, sleep in a bedouin tent, hike a pristine trail
Imagine floating down a crisp, cola-coloured river, the sun on your back, your friends or family within chatting distance. All around you, you can hear the chatter of birds in the reeds and fynbos, and above is a big, wide-open sky. Welcome to the Wolfkop experience.
Wolfkop Camping Villages are close to Citrusdal in the Cederberg, a World Heritage site, on the banks of the Olifants River. There, you’re immersed in a wealth of natural beauty. It’s in that setting where Wolfkop is now offering a range of adventure experiences.
BODYBOARD DOWN THE OLIFANTS RIVER
The ideal Wolfkop stay is a minimum of three days. That’s because there are so many wonderful ways to engage with this landscape: guided hikes (with a guide, who has life-saving qualifications, too), canoeing, floating down the river on bodyboards, star-gazing, fly-fishing courses, horse-riding and guided mountain-biking and 4x4 trails. There are also tastings on offer for teas, gins and wine from the area.
SEE ROCK PAINTING ON HIKING TRAIL IN RESERVE
The Wolfkop camping sites have access to about 30km of the Olifants River, which is mostly calm and wide and flat, says owner Werner Rontgen. “Only about five percent of it is rapids, so it’s very safe.” The guided hiking trail, which is in the Wolfkop Nature Reserve, is 20km long and takes one through incredible rock formations and diverse fynbos, as well as caves. You can also see rock paintings on the way.
CHOOSE FROM MANY CAMPING OPTIONS
Wolfkop has six camping villages in Citrusdal, which is just under 200km away from Cape Town, an easy afternoon’s drive. Each camp is made up of a number of bedouin-style awnings that house a number of tents underneath, providing a communal camping space. Some camps offer more luxury than others (such as Golden Valley), while others have more of a shared environment. Golden Valley and Biesievlak are two camps that have been refurbished, with some new additions.
BIESIEVLAK IS GOOD FOR A BIG GROUP + KIDS
This “camping village”, as the owners call it, is spread along a 200-metre stretch of the Olifants River (ideal for lolling on lilos and cooling down – the Cederberg can get scorching). There are 8 villas that can each sleep a maximum of 8 people, and the area behind these has a nice wide lawn on which kids love to run.
Each bedouin marquee is set up to overlook the water, and underneath each are one to three canvas tents (depending on the group), each with single beds that can be changed into a king bed, cotton percale sheets and blankets. There are power points and Bean bags and ablutions, as well as a fridge, freezer and microwave, which are communal.
JUMPING CASTLE + CATERING CAN BE ARRANGED
Rontgen says this space is ideal for families, and adds that there is a jumping castle close by. It’s also good for bigger groups or weddings, he says, because it has lovely communal spaces and can be joined with another camping village close by called Grootvontein, which has a bar area.
Any style of catering can be arranged, says Rontgen, costing from R150 - R300 per head. In addition, alcohol and drinks can be organised so there’s less hassle for bigger parties. (Note: a camping village will need to be booked out entirely for parties of this sort.)
IF YOU WANT GLAM, GOLDEN VALLEY IS THE ONE
Golden Valley, or Gouevallei, is made up of 10 villas that can sleep up to six each. These are the glamour darlings of the Wolfkop family. Each “villa” has its own bell tent with one master bedroom with a king-size bed, and additional canvas tents, as per the group’s requirements, also with beds on bases.
Each villa offers more privacy than Biesievlak, fully equipped kitchens dedicated to the space, as well as ablutions and firepits. One of the most charming elements of these villas is that each has a dedicated platform on the river, where you can lie and read (or meditate, if you’re inclined).
WOLFKOP NATURE RESERVE IS PRISTINE LAND
The nature reserve is made up of 450 hectares, and has been in the family for three generations. It has never been farmed and so has incredible biodiversity both in terms of wildlife and plants – go in flower season, and the ground will be a riot of daisy displays. There are small buck, tortoises, porcupines and even a leopard family is resident on the property, says Rontgen. There’s also a breeding pair of Verreaux eagles.
The area is an ideal destination for solitude and silence and a retreat to nature, he says. The reserve borders wilderness areas – to the east is the Koue Bokkeveld, to the south is the Groot Winterhoek Wilderness area. Another bonus is that it is only one hour’s drive from Elandsbaai (which has the best left surf break in South Africa, says Werner).
THERE ARE FIVE COTTAGES IN THE RESERVE
In the reserve, the cottages are built on the side of a hill with 180° views of the Olifants River Valley below. They are 200 metres apart from each other, ensuring total privacy. They range from one-bedroom to five-bedroom buildings, and all have a fireplace, aircon, and a braai area and jacuzzi outside.
During winter, these cottages are especially popular thanks to the fireplaces. Because entry to the reserve is limited, as all hikes from outside can only be accommodated with the guide, this ensures the space remains peaceful and quiet. Which means you can simply relax and enjoy the beautiful environment of fynbos, rocks, birds and fresh air at Wolfkop, and in the evening light a fire and toast to nature’s beauty as the sun sets over the slow, peaceful river.
MORE PLACES TO CAMP, HIKE AND SWIM
Capetownmagazine.com readers can stay at Wolfkop now for up to half price (conditions apply), which makes it accessible for families and big groups. You can see the specials here.
If you’re looking for other camping sites around the Western Cape, have a look at our list.
Just need to get out for the day and swim? Try these rock pools.
We have so many amazing hikes in this province. Here are some to start you off.
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