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KarooSpoor56 – the Farmstay Route

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Story by Heather Dugmore

Photo Essay by Rob Southey

The members of  KarooSpooR56 are Karoo farmers who are passionate about where they live. The route offers Guesthouses, B&Bs, Self-Catering Establishments, Safari Operations, River Rafting, Endurance Horse Riding, Hiking, Cycling and Biking Trails, and a wide range of enterprises and activities – from cheesemaking to birding to stargazing.

The Karoo Skoffel in December at Schoombee for the Under 40s is an annual event, not to be missed. Google Karoo Skoffel for more information or email James Southey and Murray Lord on schoombeeclub@gmail.com

Mount Melsetter, Karoo House & Hunt www.greatkaroo.co.za

Tel: 049 842 1520 Cell: 083 303 7625 Skype: mcferrar
Email: info@mountmelsetter.co.za
and

Hillston Farm www.hillstonfarm.co.za

Tel: 049 842 1627 Cell: 082 322 4403 Email: info@hillstonfarm.co.za

schoombee (1)Both offer:

  • Winter hunting safaris, with up to 8 antelope species on offer;
  • Palaentological walks looking at and for fossils, which date from the end of the Permian Era (260 – 240 million years ago) and into the beginning of the Triassic Era. Mike Ferrar has a wealth of information in the Melsetter Library and Melsetter has a Stone Age Bushman midden.
  • 3-star lodge and guesthouse facilities, Adrienne Southey, a cordon bleu chef caters at Hillston and offers culinary classes. Candy Ferrar, an accomplished and published cook, caters at Melsetter.
  • Off Road Dirt Bike Routes through the surrounding Suurberg Mountains, the Sneeuberg Mountains and the Wapadsberg Mountains.

Mount Melsetter is home to Melsetter MTB Tours, which has a wide variety of mountain biking trails, on and off the farm, some circular, starting and finishing daily at Melsetter, some over several days, such as the Sneeuberg Trail taking in the Compassberg, Nieu Bethesda, and beyond. Melsetter MTB Tours works in association with Great Karoo Cycling. www.gkcycle.co.za

Mount Melsetter offers birdwatching, with a list of 148 species seen on the farm, including the iconic Blue Crane.

schoombee (6)Hillston Farm has outstanding examples of an Anglo-Boer War blockhouse and barracks, the latter is used as a shearing shed.

Vriesfontein

On Vriesfontein, Deon and Dionne Schoombee, together with Pierre and Charma van Vuuren run a B&B in a comfortable, fully equipped lodge, ‘Die Jaghuis’ with a magnificent view of Teebus and Koffiebus. Outfitter Pierre van Vuuren operates hunting safaris under the banner of Kwando Safaris and is a master butcher, running a registered abbatoir and butchery,  under the name Schoombee Karoo Butchery. He specialises in lamb and venison products, including biltong and salamis.

On Vriesfontein are the remains of an Anglo-Boer War camp site with fascinating artifacts. It’s close to the old railway line that runs parallel to the R56. The cast iron gateposts are embossed ‘CGR’ (Cape Government Railway) and the remains of small stone Anglo Boer War watchpoints are visible from the road. These were manned by a British soldier, with a terrier for company and as an alarm lest a Boer Commando should try to cross the line unobserved or ambush a freight train for much needed supplies. Tel: 049 842 2022 www.schoombeekaroo.co.za

De Keur

At De Keur Farm, James Jordaan operates Karoo River Rafting from just below the weir at the confluence of the Great Brak River and the Teebus Spruit. Water flows strongly down the Great Brak, over challenging and exciting rapids, fed by water flowing from the Gariep/Fish River Tunnel, which flows for 48 weeks in the year.

Cell: 084 429 9944 or 087 550 1695 Email: info@karoo-river-rafting.co.za

www.karoo-river-rafting.co.za

schoombee (4)Beaconsfield

On Beaconsfield Farm, Charles and Bruce Lord produce and market Beaconsfield dairy products. Halloumi, ricotta, pecorino, feta, and yoghurt are all produced from sheep’s milk on the farm. Viewing the milking parlour is fascinating: it resembles a cow milking parlour except in miniature.

Tel: 049 842 1511 Cell: 082 826 2310

Email: clord@nokwi.co.za or clord@xsinet.co.za

Waterlea Farm

From nearby Waterlea Farm, home to Waterlea Endurance, Jean Lord and Anne Pook host Waterlea Karoo Trail Rides (WKTR), a series of rides through the Karoo, overnighting at various Karoo farmsteads. The rides are approximately 30kms per day. Horses and tack are provided by WKTR.

Email: waterlea@nokwi.co.za or waterlea@telkomsa.net Cell: 073 0688 792

Lucernedale

Robert Southey who farms Lucernedale is a photographer of note with a passion is landscape photography. He runs photography workshops and birding outings. Tel: 048 885 9010 Cell: 082 810 4961 www.robsoutheyphotography.com

Temple Farm

Andrew and Wendy van Lingen of Temple Farm have been making pure wool duvets for over 30 years. The duvets have a 100% cotton casing and a 100% wool filling. Andrew is fascinated by wool and its unique natural, sustainble and environmentall-friendly properties and travelled to Europe to get the technology and machinery to turn wool into duvets. They have a factory in Middelburg where they produce duvets, woollen sleeping bags and pillows and sheep skin slippers.

Tel: 049 842 1829 www.sneeuberg.co.za 

Brienne Farm

Brienne Farm is home to Rene van der Walt, an accomplished beautician who runs her beauty business in her gracious home on the farm.

Email: sarelenrene@nokwi.co.za

schoombee 7Manor Holme and Southfield

Manor Holme and Southfield are fifth generation family farms adjacent to each other. Julian and Trish Southey, Julian@adsactive.com Cell: 082 579 0488 and next generation Stuart and Karen Southey karensouthey@gmail.com both offer accommodation, scenic cyclic routes, hiking and birding.

Trish Southey is an accomplished water colour artist and quilter. She offers:

  • Art & quilting workshops
  • Children’s Art workshops
  • Gardening
  • Garden picnic (tea, lunch or sundowner) and scenic short walks

Stillehoop and Lynton

John and Sila Loock of Stillehoop offer the charming Lynton Cottage to guests. It’s the home in which John grew up, which has since been restored: it has a calm and tranquil atmosphere where you can rest and take walks in the veld.

Tel: 048 884 9013 Email: stillehoop@yahoo.com

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