Kagga Kamma, with its interesting name - though somewhat challenging to pronounce - is a private nature resort in the Koue Bokkeveld region of the Western Cape in South Africa. The name means “Place of Water” in the indigenous language of the nomadic San people, also known as Bushmen, who roamed this land from thousands of years in the past, up to 200 years ago. Today it is a luxury resort in die Cederberg Mountains, about 250km from Cape Town, where the natural fauna and flora is carefully preserved, where the past whispers to you in the overwhelming tranquillity, where the rocks and stones tell the stories of a time gone by. A visit to Kagga Kamma is a unique experience – expect to be surprised by all it has to offer.
Nature’s rock art
Vast panoramic vistas stretch to the horizon in all directions, from everywhere in the resort. Rock formations, formed over ages by winds and rains and droughts are indescribably beautiful. Let your imagination run wild as you walk through the veld and observe the rock formations: I spotted a big cat, Yorick’s scull, Pinocchio’s nose, the head of a dinosaur, and many more …
In some places the boulders seem to have been strewn around carelessly by a giant hand, others seem to be stacked carefully in geometric constructions. This is the huge workshop of the master sculptor called Nature.
As the sun goes down, it paints the rock formations and the sky in hues of pink and orange and red that defy belief.
San rock art
Kagga Kamma’s authentic Rock Art works are conserved in the original spots where they had been painted as far back as 6000 years ago! The San people were bow and arrow hunters; they were also gatherers of plants – but always only enough for personal and immediate use. They were artistic people, with their own brand of indigenous dances and their paintings on overhanging rock faces. Usually these rock drawings of animal or human figures or abstract markings, were done by the shamans, and they had a deep spiritual and symbolic meaning for the clan.
Natural materials, including coloured rocks ground to fine powder, animal blood and bird droppings provided the red, brown, orange, yellow, white and black paints that have withstood the wear and tear of millennia.
Follow the trails
This is a 4×4 paradise. Gravel roads provide all the challenges of rocky patches and soft sand that 4×4 lovers are crazy about. Well-marked mountain bike trails will lead bikers to beautiful spots that very few people in the world have the privilege to see. Various hiking trails give you the opportunity to get real close to nature. Although the 4km Klipspringer Trail is the shortest, it takes longer than you would expect: you climb over rocks and around stones, you look for San paintings on every overhanging rock face (great excitement to find them!), you take too many photos of the dramatic rocks.
The Klipbakke Trail is a moderate and scenic 7km walk. It is obvious where the name (Stone Bowls Trail) comes from: thousands of hollow stones of all shapes and sizes lie around – peanuts bowls, soup bowls, salad bowls, platter dishes … When it rains, every dish will be full of water – the animals know this, the San survived because of this.
Follow the stars
With no artificial light nearby, the stars look so bright and so near that you feel as if you could touch them. And you see thousands more than you will ever see in a city. Stargazing tours, with informative talks and looking at the stars through a telescope (weather permitting), are most interesting. Scaled models of the planets in our solar system align the short road from the Kagga Kamma Lodge to the chalets – so, just follow your planet to lead you home …
Plant life, especially shrubs, in this arid landscape, with extreme temperatures ranging from 40+ degrees Celsius in summer to below zero temperatures in winter, is a miracle in its own right. However, for us personally, the animal wildlife was the greatest joy. Early morning game drives, a sundowner trip and late night nature drives with guides, are on the itinerary. But, the animals don’t wait for the open Land Cruiser to bring the tourists; this is their place and they roam around freely. Gracious Gemsbuck surprized us early one morning in ‘our garden’, right in front of our chalet.
A few Bontebuck patiently posed for a group photo.
Basking in the sun on an impressive rock, was an inquisitive hyrax, while a gecko suspiciously eyed us from his shelter in a rock crevice.
Mrs. Tortoise wasn’t pleased at all that our hiking trail crossed her pathway and she moved off, surprisingly fast for an animal that is supposed to be slow!
Birdwatchers will have a wonderful time ticking off a great number of bird species on their list.
Live in luxury in the wild
Accommodation at Kagga Kamma is excellent. The Lodge, perfectly camouflaged against the backdrop of a rocky range, provides 4-star luxury: a nice restaurant, friendly service, stylish outdoor dinners under the Milky Way, a spa with a variety of treatments and a range of natural products.
The self-catered chalets are spacious, cool and completely private. They are very well supplied with all the facilities you may need, including an outdoor boma and enough firewood. For the supreme treat you can book a night in an Open Air Room – out there, where there is nothing except pristine veld, rocks, quietude, fresh air and millions of stars. The resort’s Nature Guide will transport you to your room with a quadbike. This is an experience to tell your grandchildren about one day…
A pool amongst the rocks
Probably one of the most beautiful swimming pools in the world? Sheltered in an amphitheatre of rocks that are painted gold by the setting sun. A colony of hyrax live safely in their rocky fortress next to the pool, with pricelessly valuable Rock Art on their walls.
The well-known slogan abundantly applies to Kagga Kamma:
“Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but pictures. Kill nothing but time.”
Celine Renaud is Head of Sales for Leo Trippi.