At the end of a very long drive, about 25 kilometers South of Richmond we turned off the N1 and proceeded down a narrow dirt road. It felt like we were going straight out into the vast nowhere that this part of the Karoo is. After a few minutes I had to get out of the car to open a gate, a little wary I must admit, stared down by a herd of cattle. A few minutes later the homestead came into view, nestled on a slope and surrounded by trees and green-blue aloes.
The beautiful house was bathed in the warm late afternoon sunshine, and we were greeted with a refreshing drink on the large stoep that wrapped around two sides of the house. Eager to make the most out of the last rays of sunshine, we immediately set off on a little walk around the farm together with the owner, Jenny. We made acquaintance with many of the farm’s residents, both four and two-legged. Like Paul Adolf, with his wide smile and (to me) incomprehensive Karoo Afrikaans. This didn’t stop him though, as he spent a good few minutes explaining to me what I can only assume was something interesting about the lambs. Perhaps he was telling me that he was going to put bells on the little ones, to keep them safe from the jackals (I learned about this later, from Jenny). In any case, it was one of the nicest conversations I have had without understanding any of what was being said! Paul Adolf came to Bloemhof from a neighboring farm less than 2 years ago, and in his short time here he has taken full charge of the management of the farm, and completed his Code 10 driver’s license. “Giving him these responsibilities and skills has made him grow in confidence so much” Jenny gushed. It is clear that Jenny loves not only the farm, but also everyone that lives and works here.
The house, which once belonged to Dr Christiaan Barnard but then sadly fell into disrepair and abandonment, has been lovingly restored. “I want people to feel like they are staying in someone’s home” Jenny said to me. Honestly, as a tourism marketing professional I have heard that term more times than I care to remember. But having spent a little bit of time here, I must conclude that this is exactly what the team have managed to do! Bloemhof is just like I have always imagined a homestead of times gone by, with its creaking floorboards, crackling fires and hunting trophies adorning the walls. We had dinner in the dining room, which is connected to the farm kitchen through a service hatch. Dining on traditional Karoo fare, served on beautiful old china, while hearing the cook rustling around in the kitchen was like being transformed back in time to what life in the Karoo was once like. The house is expertly managed by Paul Adolf’s wife Martha, and their daughter Myre so it really is a family affair!
Martha had made a wonderful pumpkin soup, and for main course we feasted on the best lamb pie I have ever had. Tender meat, with lots of gravy and the kind of crust that only a seasoned farm cook can achieve: soft on the inside and crumbly on the outside. The dessert, a smooth and velvety passionfruit pannacotta, was enjoyed with a glass of brandy in front of the fire. Totally stuffed, and wonderfully relaxed (had we been driving for hours on end on the terrible N1 just earlier that day?), we climbed into our bed, nice and warm from the electric blanked and with the most luxurious of sheets and bedding. Needless to say, we slept like babies that night.
The next morning, I woke up early to catch the sunrise. It was a freezing morning, but wrapped in several layers and a nice wooly hat I braved the cold. For this bravery, I was rewarded handsomely. While the ducks were doing their morning patrol and the two rescue donkeys, Grumpy and Cheerful, were grazing on the front lawn, the sun slowly changed the sky from black to the faintest of pink before breaking the horizon in a riot of orange.
We still had an hour before breakfast, so I climbed into bed again as I came back. A few minutes later, there was a knock on the door and Myre brought a tray of steaming coffee and homemade rusks that we indulgently enjoyed in bed. A while later we were feasting on a full farm breakfast, complete with homebaked bread and eggs from the farm.
Needless to say, we didn’t want to leave. Although Bloemhof is located as a perfect stop-over for the long drive between Joburg and Cape Town, it is also a destination in its own right. It’s a place to enjoy warm hospitality, hearty food and a comfortable bed after a long drive, but also a place to stay for a few days, go for long walks on the farm and just wind down. There is so much more to tell about this place, especially about the people that work there, and about Jenny’s commitment to working in harmony with nature and uplifting the local community, so expect a few more stories from this amazing place!
My stay was courtesy of Bloemhof Karoo but, as always, I maintain full editorial control of the content published on this site.