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BARTHOLOMEUS KLIP, HERMON

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Bartholomeus Klip is a small hotel situated on a large wheat and sheep farm in the Riebeek Valley. It has a well-known 4 000 hectare nature reserve which conserves two rare types of fynbos and renosterveld, both lowland and mountain, thus making it an important habitat for birds as well as herds of buck such as eland, springbok and bontebok. There is an extensive seasonal wetland in the reserve, and many different birds frequent the large dam, where bird watching can be done in comfort from the terrace of the Deck House overlooking the water.

The farmhouse has four bedrooms and there is a separate suite, all decorated to a high standard, as well as several sitting rooms and a coffee lounge. The food is outstanding, with gourmet four-course dinners, a substantial brunch and a spectacular high tea. Included in the rates are all meals and activities, including twice-daily nature drives through the reserve and visits to the farming operations, as requested. A short distance away, Wild Olive House is a self-catering option for groups of family or friends of up to eight with a separate cottage and its own garden and swimming pool. Meals can be taken at the farmhouse by request.The historic towns of Tulbagh and Wellington are nearby, and activities on the farm include twice-daily guided nature drives through the reserve, mountain biking, windsurfing on the extensive dam, swimming, hiking, and bird-watching.



Bartholomeus Klip has developed a reputation as being one of the top bird-watching destinations in the Cape Winelands region. Visitors can enjoy birding around the farmhouse where the well-wooded gardens host a variety of species associated with thickets. Examples here include Bar-throated Apalis, Acacia Pied Barbet, Southern Boubou, Cape Batis, Karoo Prinia, Cape White-eye and all three mousebirds. The farm is further of the best areas in the region where birds associated with wheatbelts can be found in relatively close proximity to Cape Town. This is Blue Crane country and both species of flamingo move through the area nomadically. Also expect to find Denham’s Bustard, as well as Steppe Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel and Yellow-billed Kite in summer. Other summer migrants recorded include European Bee-eater, Spotted Flycatcher, African Paradise-Flycatcher and most of the visiting martins, swallows and swifts found in the Western Cape. There are still choice patches of remnant renosterveld habitat remaining on the property and it is certainly not uncommon to find threatened species such as the Black Harrier, Southern Black Korhaan and Secretarybird. The fynbos further host ever popular endemics such as Cape Grassbird, Cape Siskin, Cape Sugarbird and Orange-breasted Sunbird.



This is also a good area to practice one’s identification skills on so-called 'Little Brown Jobs'. Try to spot Cape Clapper Lark, Karoo, Large-billed and Red-capped Larks, Cape Longclaw, African Stonechat and Capped Wheatear. Most of the region’s cisticolas, larks and pipits can be found on the farm. A medley of waterfowl is available at the dam and visitors should be especially vigilant for the African Fish-Eagle, Giant and Malachite Kingfishers and Western Osprey. Most of the region's ducks are also on display and here White-faced Duck, Southern Pochard and South African Shelduck, as well as all three teals should be taken note of. Great Crested and Little Grebes are also popular sightings. The Elandskloof Mountains brings a different suite of birds into play and the Jackal Buzzard, Booted and Verreaux's Eagles, Grey-winged Francolin, Rock Kestrel and Cape Rock-Thrush are recorded fairly regularly. Sightings of the endemic Ground Woodpecker are also on record. To crown it all the farm's checklist features other special bird of prey such as Martial Eagle, Lanner and Peregrine Falcons, African Harrier-Hawk, African Marsh-Harrier and Black Sparrowhawk. Also expect to hear the calls of Spotted Eagle-Owl, Fiery-necked Nightjar, Barn Owl and both Spotted and Water Thick-knees at night. The accompanying photo gallery illustrates some of the top and often endemic species to be found on the farm. Most excitingly a handy information and species booklet that explores all the natural wonders of farm is available. Several staff members are also adequately trained to enhance the visitor's experience.



Bartholomeus Klip can further be used as an ideal base from which to explore some of the top birding destinations of the region and here Voëlvlei Dam, the Waterval Nature Reserve and the Nuwekloof and Bainskloof Passes come to mind. The Bainskloof Pass needs particular attention in this regard. Linger by the alien trees at the summit of the pass as the Cape Canary, Southern Boubou, Cape Bulbul, Fiscal Flycatcher, Neddicky and Cape Siskin feature commonly. The Olive Woodpecker is recorded occasionally. The rocky slopes and ridges deserve particular attention as the Cape Bunting, Familiar Chat Cape Rock-jumper and Ground Woodpecker are recorded fairly regularly. The fynbos habitats along the pass support the Cape Grassbird, Cape Sugarbird, Southern Double-collared, Malachite and Orange-breasted Sunbirds, with the Protea Seedeater being found sporadically in mature stands of protea, particularly those featuring 'wabome' (Protea Nitida). Thriving vegetation along the streams also bear the immensely popular Victorin's Warbler. The Cinnamon-breasted Bunting has only been described here relatively recently. 



Finally Bartholomeus Klip is also a practical stop-over point for bird-watchers traveling to and from destinations such as the Tankwa-Karoo National Park, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and Namibia.



(There are many photographs available in the PHOTO GALLERY above).