Cupped in the palm of the majestic Sneeuberg Mountain Range in South Africa’s Great Karoo region, Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve will commemorate its 10th year of welcoming guests in September with a series of new developments, including new flights.
Privately owned and operated by a South African family, the 14 000-hectare pristine reserve started out as a holiday destination in 1995 with the purchase of Mount Pleasant farm by the late Logie Buchanan. “Mount Camdeboo is the story of family”, says Iain Buchanan, Logie’s son and director of the reserve. “For a number of years, it was the family holiday spot; from there it grew into a vision of developing the property for conservation and eco-tourism that evolved after each trip”.
After the tragic passing of Logie in 2000, instead of selling the land, the family decided to rediscover the true value that lay there and to implement the vision of restoring it back into the natural state it would have been 200 years ago. In the process 350km of internal fencing was removed and wildlife such as eland, gemsbok, rhino, cheetah, red hartebeest, cape buffalo and giraffe were reintroduced for eco-tourism. The reserve’s 3 luxurious homesteads were renovated and in 2007 opened to their first guests.
To improve access to the Graaff-Reinet area for international visitors in particular, Mount Camdeboo has recently spearheaded the launch of a new 6-day weekly scheduled flight from Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route to the Graaff-Reinet airstrip, in partnership with PlettAirSafaris. This new flight route will reduce travelling time to the area and makes an ideal Cape Town – Plettenberg Bay (with Cemair) – Graaff-Reinet (with PlettAirSafaris) flight route for those who don’t have the time or inclination to drive.
In addition, guests staying at Mount Camdeboo can now discover some of the most spectacular spots on the reserve’s mountain tops for an unforgettable sundowner with scenic helicopter flights, in partnership with Fly Karoo. Additional flight options include scenic flights over the historic town of Graaff-Reinet, Spandau Kop and the Valley of Desolation, with ground tours available as an add-on.
With staff at the heart of the business and core to its successful growth, celebration plans include the construction of a new ‘rec room’, a space in which they can unwind and relax when not on duty. A celebration bash in the month of September will also commemorate those who have been there for 10 years or longer.
Additional developments include the Milk River Gardens coming to life, which incorporates a large fenced area around two of the manor houses and safari tents through which the Milk River meanders. Guests are currently able to explore this area on foot, however plans include creating a demarcated 1,6km circular walking/ running trail for those wanting to get more active. A Milk River Map will indicate points of interest, including an educational flora and bird walk, with markers along the trail naming different species of flora to be found.
In addition, Mount Camdeboo is planning the launch of its very own ‘Craft’ range, consisting of deli products, handmade crafts and jewellery, as well as the production of a Mount Camdeboo 10 year vintage in conjunction with a leading South African vintner.
The reserve’s lifetime conservation envisions linking the area between the region’s three national parks, namely the Mountain Zebra -, the Camdeboo - and the Addo National Parks, through the establishment and evolution of the Mountain Zebra Camdeboo Protected Environment initiative. The intention within this initiative is to encourage land owners to find the value in converting in part or full to wildlife and flora conservation and ecotourism-based enterprises, and in so doing see an increased value to both land and profits. If this combined vision is realised it would see hundreds of thousands of hectares of this spectacular and diverse environment rich in flora and fauna being protected and preserved which will be enjoyed by future generations.
“It has been an incredible journey that we have started on and one we hope will continue for many generations - one of self-discovery, of understanding the actual value of what we are sitting on here and building an incredible team that has been with us from the start and continue to put in way too many hours!” says Iain. “I consider ourselves incredibly lucky to be custodians of this environment for a slither of its existence. Hopefully the decisions we make in our lifetime can affect its future positively.”