New Holme Karoo by Clive Prior
Cassia picked up on a 3 night package being offered by PC Ferreira’s New Holme Guest Farm in the Karoo Gariep Nature Reserve near Hanover in the Karoo as a great opportunity to kick off an early celebration of Rob Kemp’s 80th birthday. The party consisted of Rob & Margs, Deon & Gill, Jean, Cassia and I. Rob and Margs had been in Johannesburg and would meet us there on the way back to Cape Town. The rest of the party left Cape Town at 6 a.m. on Thursday the 13th of June in 2 separate vehicles and met up in Matjiesfontein Hotel for a breakfast break.
We then headed off up the N1 highway for New Holme Guest Farm, arriving mid-afternoon to meet up with the Kemps who had just arrived and to be greeted by PC Ferreira. We then checked in to our rooms and some of us took a quick stroll though the homestead grounds to do a bit of birding.
Then late afternoon we piled into the open game viewing vehicle for the Sundowner birding and game viewing drive down to Hippo Pool on the Seekoei River. The highlight on the drive was a distant Aardwolf seen at 5 pm! We had drinks and snacks on the hippo viewing jetty on the river and took in the sunset while PC gave us an update on his hippo reintroduction story.
Then it was back to the homestead and a superb dinner prepared by the Ferreira family, in front of a warming fire in a huge hearth, accompanied by some fine wines of course. After dinner we set off in the freezing cold in the open viewing vehicle, huddled in blankets, for the night drive. Amongst other things we had our first sighting of an Ardvark, moving quite fast, a hundred or so meters away and a lovely pair of Blue Korhaans close to the vehicle.
The next morning after coffee and rusks, it was back into the open vehicle and out into the cold veld on a slow drive, with stops, for a few hours to do some birding before brunch.
After a wonderful champagne brunch back at the homestead followed by a rest period and a birding stroll around the homestead we headed off down to the dam to have a sunset braai.
After the braai, we headed back to the homestead for a warm by the fire and and desert (malva pudding with custard or ice-cream, or both!) before heading out again for the night drive. This drive produced the find of the trip – a close Aardvark moving parallel to the road and then crossing the road right in front of us! On the way home, we picked up a lovely Spotted Eagle-Owl on a post. It was even colder the next morning – I checked my car temperature after breakfast before we boarded the open vehicle for the morning drive – minus 4 degrees C! That before we even got into the wind chill factor driving out there on the open veld.
Then back to the homestead for another amazing champagne brunch and great fire!
On our final afternoon drive of the stay at New Holme, we headed out about 20 kms to a lovely grassy and rocky site with small koppies overlooking the Seekoei River, where there were some old Khoi etchings and artifacts as well as some Anglo-Boer war artifacts.
Then it was time to head back to a hill on PC’s property that has a wonderful 360 degree view of the wonderful Karoo landscape for our final sundowers and snacks of the trip.
We stayed on top of the hill until the last possible moment and darkness was descending before we clambered down to the vehicle carrying all the sundowner bits and pieces, before the drive back to the homestead for the final delicious dinner of our stay at New Holme. Many thanks to PC, Mariska and family, they were such tremendous hosts – we’ll be back!
On the way home, we had decided to break the journey with a stopover at the Karoo National Park for the night. After yet another lovely breakfast at New Holme, we bad farewell to PC, Mariska and family and set off just before 10 am with the car outside reading temperature still at minus 2 degrees C! We all arrived at the Bulkraal picnic spot in the Karoo NP in time for a picnic lunch before check-in to the Camp.