Located between Matjiesfontein and Sutherland, Rogge Cloof Private Nature Reserve is a tranquil escape from daily life, home to vast landscapes, endless starry skies, and a variety of free-roaming game including cheetahs. We were recently privileged to spend a weekend exploring this remote escape with our toddler and here are 10 reasons why we think you should put this Karoo destination on your travel bucket-list!
1. A variety of accommodation to choose from
The Rogge Cloof Eco-Village, which is located 12 km from the main entrance gate via a well-maintained gravel road, is home to various accommodation options to suit all types of travellers. Ideal for couples or families with one child, the Orion Suites where we spent our time are luxurious open plan units with a coffee station, large bathroom, and vast deck for stargazing. There’s also a gorgeous wood-burning fireplace for those cold Karoo nights. For those travelling as a bigger family or groups of friends there are plenty of self-catering accommodation options on site while the adventure camp located out in the reserve features dormitory style accommodation for groups of up to 50 people, making it a great choice for school camps.
2. A place to go off grid
While loadshedding woes continue to affect the country, at Rogge Cloof electricity problems are the furthest thing from your mind. That is because the entire property is self-sufficient operating on eco-friendly solar power, just one of the many simple actions taken by the reserve to protect this area of limited resources. While that does mean you can’t plug in an electric kettle or microwave, a gas stove with kettle is provided in every room with complimentary coffee, tea and rusks, even the Orion Suites, and there is free and fast WiFi throughout. The reserve’s no TV policy is designed for you to disconnect and reconnect with your loved ones.
Rogge Cloof is located on a plateau in the Great Karoo, at an altitude of between 1400 to 1700 metres. What this means in that area famed for its starry skies, the stars at Rogge Cloof feel close enough to touch. Whether you choose to just lay on your deck and look up at the Milky Way as you’ve never seen it before or join the team for an interactive star gazing session after dinner, you’ll certainly gain a new appreciation for the night sky.
If you want to learn even more about the cosmos, then you’ll be pleased to know that Rogge Cloof is located just 15 minutes from Sutherland, an area famed for its space tourism. Here you can join even more stargazing sessions, visit the planetarium for an interactive show about the constellations, or pay a visit to the South African Astronomical Observatory to see the largest single optical telescope in the Southern Hemisphere, or as it’s more frequently known SALT.
5. Delicious food
For guests of the Orion Suites, a delicious homestyle breakfast and a decadent three course dinner is included in the Rittersaal Dining Hall, which is also open for lunch or to self-catering guests with prior reservation. In keeping with the reserve’s eco-friendly way of being, many of the ingredients are actually picked from the village’s very own hothouse. These meals are then served in the authentically restored historic farmhouse which dates back to the late 1700s, and with its long table and wood-burning fireplaces is a great place to meet other guests. There is also a spacious veranda and a cosy lounge where you can enjoy a pre-dinner drink and a boardgame while watching the sun set paint the sky a myriad different shades of pink.
What would a great meal be if not paired with some delicious wines and thankfully, the Rogge Cloof team has some great ones up their sleeves. Amazingly the team has managed to not only grow a number of wine varietals out here in the Karoo but they have also managed to cultivate them to create a variety of their own award-winning wines. During our time on the farm we joined the team to learn more about how the wines are made, the various challenges faced by the winemaker in this unforgiving part of the world, and of course to taste the offerings – the crisp Chardonnay being a firm favourite!
7. Home to cheetah
Rogge Cloof Reserve is a 18,000 hectare reserve which is home to a vast array of game, including their own resident cheetah population. While at one point the reserve had eight cheetah, they now are home to two resident males. As part of the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s cheetah breeding programme, they hope to soon get a female cheetah to further boost the population once their springbok numbers have had time to recover. That is because all the cheetah at Rogge Cloof are wild and hunt for themselves. That said, because the reserve is surrounded by sheep farms, the cheetah are collared and closely monitored. This means that guests are afforded the opportunity to experience a unique cheetah tracking activity during their stay.
Because of the presence of predators, the reserve is also home to a huge springbok population. They are a frequent site when driving in and out of the reserve while a population is also safeguarded within the fences of the eco village which means it isn’t uncommon to wake up to see springbok grazing just outside your bedroom door. This large herd is also fed weekly by the reserve team and we were offered a chance to join the game vehicles as they ventured out with bales of lucerne and pellets to feed the bokkies on early Saturday morning. An absolutely amazing experience that saw our toddler squealing with delight.
9. A variety of activities to enjoy
Alongside the cheetah tracking and springbok feeding, the reserve offers a whole host of activities to keep you entertained during your time in the Karoo. These include guided hikes, walks, cycling and drives to historic Anglo-Boer war sites found on the property. One activity that we decided to try was a nature drive to the reserve’s very own fossil fields where actual fossils dating back to the Permian Age can be seen and explored. It was absolutely fascinating to learn more about the massive creatures that once roamed the land, and then to hold the fossilised versions of their bones in our hands after a drive through the vast landscape.
10. Part of the Cape Country Routes
Rogge Cloof is the newest member of the Cape Country Routes – a group of owner operated and managed accommodation and activity establishments on the scenic and historic routes in the Western and Eastern Cape. These lodges, farms and guest houses have all been carefully selected for their character, charm and romance and combining a stay with Rogge Cloof with any number of these authentic properties is sure to guarantee a road trip to remember.