Category Archives: Uncategorised

3-Night Karoo Cycling Breakaway

8 – 14 guests (couples sharing).

Scenic challenging gravel road cycling on a 12 000 hectare Karoo farm where 2000 head of antelope roam.

Day 1

  • Arrive in time for a SUNSET SPIN      13 km
  • Casual Welcome Dinner

Day 2 

  • Optional SUNRISE SPEEDSTER     14km.
  • Breakfast.
  • Cycle to PLATEAU….. across to highest point ROOIBERG   19km
  • Hopefully Zebra, Rooi Hartebeest sightings…
  • Breeze down to TRONKKLOOF HUISIE for light lunch  9 km.
  • Back to base      8 km
  • Drinks in The Pub and Hearty Dinner.

Day 3

  • Early light Breakfast.
  • Back road to PLATEAU.    Veld Lunch, return home.
  • Optional: Intense challenging ride to Rietfontein (needs to be guided).

Day 4

  • Another pre-dawn SUNRISE SPEEDSTER  22km
  • BREAKFAST and DEPARTURE…….wonderful memories have been made!


  • R 7 400 per cyclist sharing;   R5 500 per non-cyclist sharing.

STARTER 3 NIGHT CYCLING BREAKAWAY is being offered at a 30% discount to the first 2 group bookings  (Minimum 8 guests).

Contact: Jenny Pickard
082 449 7700



Karooscapes  is ideal for 8 – 14 guests (couples sharing).

Day 1             

Arrive in time for Casual Dinner.

BRIEFING….lots of chirping I’m sure!

Day 2             

  • Sunrise Spin for the Keensters!   18km.
  • Off to the PLATEAU (steady climb), across to the highest point of the farm ROOIBERG.   360 degree view from the kopje.
  • Hopefully Zebra, Rooihartebeest sightings….
  • Meander down to TRONKKLOOF HUISIE for refreshments / light lunch;
  • easy cruise back to base.
  • 26 km 

Day 3             

  • Early light Breakfast.
  • Easy gradient fast cycle to STUKKENDE DAM,  VLEI CAMP, RENOSTERHUIS for veld lunch.   23 km
  • See Scimitar Oryx, Lechwe, Springbok
  • Return option via RIETFONTEIN….VERY HECTIC  17km;
  • or straight back home.       

Day 4             

  • Breakfast
  • OUTRIDE to Murraysburg.
  • Lunch in the village or on a farm just outside Murraysburg.
  • CYCLE /be driven back to base     30 /60km

Day 5 

  • Early start after coffee and rusks to RICHMOND  22km
  • Breakfast at VETMUISKOMBUIS, hosted by the wonderful Janine Viljoen.
  • Pop into MAP contemporary gallery
  • Horse Museum      
  • Cycle / Drive back to farm  22km

60km one way.

FINAL DINNER….stories to tell, maybe even a few awards!

Day 6   

Depart at your leisure

Unforgettable memories and great friendships will have been forged

  • ITINERARY can be adjusted to the needs of the group.
  • Full backup always available.
  • Daily laundry facility.

Karooscapes Cycling Tour is unique and very special.


  • R 10  300 per cyclist sharing for 5 night stay
  • R   7 000 per non-cyclist sharing.


  • All meals (on or off the farm),
  • All backup support.
  • All local beers, wine, beverages.

Our Whisky Trolley and Gin Bar paid separately.

Also available:

  • 4 night package
    R 8 800 per cyclist sharing.
    R 6 000 per non-cyclist sharing.
  • 3 night package     
    R 7 400 per cyclist sharing.
    R 5 500 per non-cyclist sharing.

Contact: Jenny Pickard
082 449 7700

House of Sorrow

Category : Karoo Life , Uncategorised


I absolutely love the writings from Alfred de Jager Jackson’s book, MANNA IN THE DESERT, originally published in 1920.    Their farm in the Karoo “where you find rest for the body and comfort for the troubled soul” had been in their family for generations. 
Alfred’s insights, descriptions and tales bear heavily upon me, as he describes the ”home of want and of plenty”.   He is a true Karoo son.

Alfred’s introductory chapter to this book is called Likeness of the Karroo. No spelling error….this is how Karoo was written in days gone by.

To what shall we liken this Great Karroo?…..
desert of frowns and smiles land of drought and rains place of lean and fat home of want and plenty wilderness of desolation garden of beauty      country of sadness barren plains dead mountains that yet hold so much life. house of sorrow and yet of much rejoicing

Alfred de Jager Jackson described the Karroo in its days of its drought and desolation as a wonderful but very sad woman, whose noble head is adorned with raven-black tresses that become her so well.She is stately and gracious, because her sadness and sorrow are hidden.The following day….the sun rises…..her raven locks become golden and radiant, lit up by the morning orb.But….there are heavy dews upon her brow, they hang upon her lashes.   She weeps, though she tries to smile bravely. The early north-wind gently stirs her garments of sombre brown, gathering the fragrance of the sweet herbs.It kisses away the sad dews upon her brow and her eyes.You feel and know that the rains will come. They will wash off the Lines and Tears of Sorrow.        They will drive away the Want and the Leanness and the Barrenness.

We have been deeply involved with our farm in the Karoo for the past 20 years.Only 20 years!…time has flown.

Besides our children, “the farm” has been our most important endeavour, a very great joy and a huge learning curve for us!It is indeed an honour and a privilege to be custodians of a small part of God’s earth. We do all that we are able to sustain and nurture this precious part of the world given to us.

Tasty Tomato Tarts

These simple and delicious morsels are a favourite on the farm!

Wonderful as a starter, light meal served with a green salad.

We often cut the Tarts into 4 as a delicious evening snack.


Square sheets Puff Pastry, cut into 4 squares.

Make a small indentation with a blunt knife 1cm in from each side.

Brush lightly with egg.

Spread a layer of Cream Cheese and  1-2 tsp onion marmalade on top.

Add a few drops of Pomodoro or Arrabiata pasta sauce.

Cut baby tomatoes in half, and pile on top.

Squeeze on a few drops Balsamic Glaze, and pop into the oven at 200 deg

Bake for 10-15 minutes, watching closely until gently browned.

These freeze so well and easily, also reheat perfectly well.

Find out more about our delicious approach to traditional Karoo cuisine here.


“KAROO” – Lawrence G Green



“The countless springboks are my flock
Spread o’er the unbounded plain.”
-Thomas Pringle

THOSE vast springbok migrations which devastated the karoo districts of South Africa almost up to the end of last century must have formed the most dramatic scenes in the whole world of mammals.
One cannot see everything, but I am sorry these cavalcades of fur and flesh occurred before my time. There was a trekboer once,
a natural artist as a story teller, whose tale gave me the human side of it; one of those tales which carried the ring of personal experience in every vivid detail.
This man had left the Transvaal with his family in the eighteen­-seventies as a boy of ten. They were members of the first “Thirstlandtrek,” a group of people impelled by real or imaginary grievances, and certainly by a restless spirit, to seek a new country.
Many died in the desert. Some reached Angola. But this family of Van der Merwes broke away from the ill-fated wagons and headed south. They spent their lives trekking with their sheep and cattle in search of grass. When the old people died, the son Gert went on living the only life he knew; sometimes in Bechuanaland, in the Kalahari and often in the North West Cape. By the time he was twenty-one he had a wife and three children, two coloured shepherds and a Bushman touleier to lead the oxen and find the way from one water-hole or vlei to the next.
One morning Gert van der Merwe’s wagon was plodding along the dry, hard bed of the Molopo river where it forms the southern border of the Bechuanaland Protectorate. Gert noticed that the Bushman seemed worried about something. In the middle of the morning the Bushman left his oxen suddenly and ran off into the bush on the high northern bank of the river. At noon Gert stopped for the usual outspan and meal. His wife had just settled down to the cooking when the Bushman raced into camp and urged the party to inspan and follow him immediately. “The trekbokke are coming,” the Bushman declared. “It will be death to stay in the river-bed.”

Gert packed up, wondering whether the alarm was justified, but remembering that he had his family with him. The Bushman led the wagon out of the river-bed, up the north bank to a hill. Van der Merwe drove the wagon up the hill as far as the oxen would pull it. Then they went to the summit of the hill and the Bushman pointed.
At first Gert could see nothing unusual, but later he observed a faint cloud of dust along the horizon. It was miles away and did not suggest any great danger to him. However, the Bushman persuaded him to cut and pile thorn bushes as a barrier round the wagon and cattle. The Bushman explained that if the running springbok came over the hill instead of round it they would trample every living thing in their path to death. However, he hoped the thorn bush and the wagon would make them swerve.
After protecting his wagon and stock, Gert climbed the hill again. By now the dust was only a few miles away, rising high in the air and spread over a wide front. Gert’s hill appeared to be in the centre of the oncoming game. Now, for the first time, he felt a little nervous, for he realized that anything could happen if such a stampede passed through the camp. So he ordered his wife and children into the wagon and made the dogs fast under the wagon tent. With the aid of the two coloured men and the Bushman he gathered heaps of dry wood and placed them in front of the wagon. By throwing green stuff on top of each pile he hoped to send up enough smoke to startle the buck and cause them to swing aside.
Gert waited on the hill summit. The buck were still hidden in their dust screen, but hares and jackals and other small animals were racing past the hill and taking no notice of the human beings. Snakes were out in the open, too, moving fast and seeking cover under the rocks on the hill. Gert and his men threw stones at the snakes that came too close, but the snakes seemed to be dominated by a greater fear. Meerkat families and field mice also appeared in large numbers.
At last came a faint drumming. No doubt the Bushman had sensed this drumming hours before, with his ear to the ground. Only now could Gert hear it. The cloud of dust was dense and enormous, and the front rank of the springbok, running faster than galloping horses, could be seen. They were in such numbers that Gert found the sight frightening. He could see a front line of buck at least three miles long, but he could not estimate the depth. Ahead of the main body were swift voorlopers, moving along as though they were leading the army.
When the buck came within a mile of the hill the Bushman ran to the wagon and climbed in despite the growling of the dogs. He was taking no chances. Gert and the coloured men then moved pausing only to light the fires. They remained with the cattle, which had sensed the danger and were milling round and lowing nervously. Gert’s wife wanted him inside the wagon; but he was gripped by the vast spectacle and climbed on to the hood for a better view.
The first solid groups of buck swept past on both sides of the kill. After that the streams of springbok were continuous, making for the river and the open country beyond. Then the pressure increased, the buck became more crowded. No longer was it possible for them to swerve aside when they reached the fires and the wagon. Gert said he could have flicked the horde with his whip from where he sat on the wagon tent. Some crashed into the wagon and were jammed in the wheels, injured and trampled upon. The wagon became the centre of a mass of dead and dying buck; and Gert saw more biltong than he could have secured in a year’s expensive shooting. But the thorn barrier had broken, and the buck were among the cattle. Before long the terrified, bellowing cattle stampeded and vanished into the dust in the direction of the river. Gert had to let them go. There was only death for anyone who ventured after them among the horns and hooves of the buck.
At the height of the rush, said Gert, the noise was overwhelming. Countless hooves powdered the surface to fine dust, and everyone found it hard to breathe. Gert’s wife, who had been watching the rush with frightened interest, had to draw the blankets over herself and the children. The dust had almost smothered them. Everything in the wagon was an inch deep in pale yellow dust, and the coloured men had also turned yellow.
Within an hour the main body of springbok had passed, but that was not the end of the spectacle. Until long after sunset, hundreds upon hundreds of stragglers followed the great herd. Some were exhausted, some crippled, some bleeding. Gert wondered what had happened to the hares and jackals, and the snakes which had not taken cover in time. Next day he found the answer.
All night lone buck passed the wagon. The air cleared, but dust rose again when there was any movement in the camp. At daybreak Gert climbed the hill to see whether he could find his cattle. He had food, and there was a water-hole not far away in the dry river-bed; but without the oxen he was stranded.
The morning air was so clear, the day so bright, that Gert felt for a moment as though the events of the previous dy had a nightmare quality. Then he saw that the landscape, which had been covered with trees of fair sizes, green with food for his cattle, were gaunt stumps and bare branches. The buck had brushed off all herbage in their passing, and splintered the young trees so that they would never grow again.
Far in the distance Gert thought he could see a few of his oxen. After breakfast he set off with his men to recover them. Every donga leading into the river, every little gully was filled with buck. It seemed that the first buck had paused on the brink, considering the prospects of leaping across. Before they could decide, the ruthless mass was upon them. Buck after buck was pushed into the donga, until the hollow was filled and the irresistible horde went on over the bodies.
Other sights reminded Gert of the fate he and his family had escaped by accepting the Bushman’s warning. Small animals were lying dead everywhere – tortoises crushed almost to pulp, fragments of fur that had been hares. A tree, pointing in the direction of the advancing buck, had become a deadly spike on which two springbok were impaled.
For a fortnight Gert camped on that hill beside the Molopo, searching for his cattle.He found half of them. The fate of the others remained a mystery. They might have been borne along by the impetus of the stampede until they fell and were trampled to death; or they might have escaped from the living trap far away from the wagon. Gert inspanned the survivors thankfully and the wagon rolled on, away from the scene of destruction. When he told the tale, it was clear that he regarded it as the most memorable episode in a life which he regarded as the finest on earth. “Ons lewe lekker. Dit is vir ons heeltemal goed genoeg,” declared Gert at the end of his story. “We live well. It is absolutely good enough for us.”

Guest Comments

Reviews of Bloemhofkaroo:

“Thank you for spoiling us and making our road trip so memorable” Judy R

“Incredible house full of Afrikaner literature, treasures and memorabilia that take you back to the grace of living in this wonderful and vast landscape called the Karoo. Don’t miss this little gem if you are driving through the Karoo”. Col & Judes

“We had the most amazing dinner prepared by Myre & Martha, accompanied by a velvety Glenelly CabSav.. finished the bottle on the stoep, reminiscing about days gone by. I saw not one, but TWO shooting stars!! Retha and Louis

“I stayed in the Barnard Room, where I appreciated the beautiful linen, eclectic decor and marvelled at the fact that they just think of everything you could need/want. The next morning we managed to fit in a quick walk to the “koppie”, followed by a scrumptious farm breakfast, and we were ready for the long road home! Thank you to Jenny, Myre, Martha and everyone else.” RethavS

“Immerse yourself in Karoo living and history. This place is a treasure.”
“Absolutely Outstanding. We spent 3 nights at this incredible spot near Richmond.”
“This is by far one of the most beautiful houses I have ever stayed in…”
“Next time our Destination – not just a Pitstop!”
“The best Karoo farmhouse accommodation”

Scimitar Oryx

This beautiful species of Oryx, also known as Sahara Oryx, were once widespread across North Africa but became extinct in the wild around 2000.

How sad is this! – and whatever could have caused it?

In short….. human disturbance, over-hunting, drought and loss of food due to excessive livestock grazing were all reasons for this elegant antelope to diminish so drastically in the wild.

Scimitar Oryx are supremely adapted to desert life, and can dissipate heat through their appendages, so their extinction is particularly onerous for conservation today.

These antelope are amazing in that they are able to tolerate an internal body temperature of 116 deg Fahrenheit do not need to sweat much, so can therefore conserve water. They rid themselves of excess heat at night when their body temps can drop well below normal.

So, despite their developed adaptation abilities, these graceful Antelope have become seriously threatened in the last  two decades.

Conservation Scientists are presently working on reintroduction programs in Tunisia, Chad and Niger, and we are happy to report that our Karoo programs in this arena have been enormously successful.

Lifespan of Scimitar Oryx in the wild is unknown, but it is thought that with human care, they can live well into their 20’s.

On our Karoo farm just south of Richmond in the Northern Cape, we have found our Scimitar to be perfectly well adapted to the Karoo climate and conditions; they reproduce well, a most telling sign of good adaptation.

We need to keep our Scimitar Oryx separate from the generic Karoo Gemsbok to prevent interbreeding, so have them roaming Vlei Camp, which covers approximately 3000 hectares of Karoo Veld.

We #LoveOurKaroo – and all that we protect within this biosphere!

Bokkie the Baby White Springbok

This is a White Springbok, indigenous in South Africa. White Springbok are not albino’s, but a different color phase to the normal Springbok, with a recessive gene.

3 days after rescuing Bokkie, he began to feed easily; had lost his sucking reflex due to the trauma, so needed much persuasion initially.

Amazing to see his instincts kicking in; identified one spot in the garden where he immediately gravitates to, must have an excellent inbuilt GPS!

rain at last

Rain at last

Category : Karoo Life , Uncategorised

Drought has been Broken!

We’re thankful to report that after our worst drought in living memory, we’ve had excellent rains, and all farm dams are full. 133 mm since the beginning of 2017!

Having studied Weather Reports for months, always in hope of rain which the Karoo desperately needed, we were overjoyed last week; first a downpouring, then soft patter rain to embed itself into the parched Karoo earth.

Warm sunny weather after good rains is critical – to enable grass and veld to shoot, and grow.  Rains come during Autumn or Winter aren’t much help to the Karoo Veld.

rain at last

The dam alongside the road to BloemhofKaroo –
fuller than we’ve ever seen it.

Christmas in the Karoo

Always a reminder of how the year has flown by when once again we cut a tall Aloe flower that has already begun to dry……and that becomes our Karoo Christmas Tree.

This ritual provides us with so much joy, and our Chapel takes on the Spirit of Christmas.

Never cease to be amazed by the diversity of the Karoo, and the ingenuity of the local people.

Aloe Christmas Tree

Martha is busy every spare minute Preparing, Preserving and Bottling!….. she’s turning out the most delicious Apple Chutney, delicious with Christmas ham; Apricot Jam; various Marmalades, and much else.

All of these items available from our farm Gift Shop – gorgeous Christmas and Holiday Gifts!

Bloemhof Karoo chutney