Rob with a bee in his bonnet
Activities on Paardeplaats Nature Retreat:
Whether you are looking for peace and quiet, or solitude or “family therapy” in nature, whether you want to indulge in your hobby, albeit photography, birding, bugging or settling into a good book with a glass or two of your favourite red wine, this is the place to be!
A quiet moment alone at Masjienkloof
Lost in the fynbos on Paardeplaats
Hiking & Mountain Biking on Paardeplaats:
Hiking and mountain biking for both the serious and not so serious is a popular pass-time on Paardeplaats.
The Jafrie Walking and Cycling Ramble offers several different routes totaling about 20 kilometers. On all routes, the views are spectacular with an abundance of sub-alpine flowers and plants in summer time, and with wonderful birding and game through all seasons.
Encourage the farm dogs, Shaka, Bono and Dobi and they will show you the way.
Hike at your leisure to the nearby gold mine (10 – 15 minutes), or don your boots and amble down the river to the top of the waterfall (20-30 minutes).
For the more serious hikers, pack a picnic bag with some cold beers and sami’s, take your walking stick, your binoc’s and your bird books and tackle one of the longer routes as a group or family.
Sorry, we don’t allow quads or scramblers on the farm, as the veld is too sensitive, however the “Jafrie Ramble” is ideally suited to mountain biking, which we encourage as a family exercise.
Paardeplaats Full Moon Hike:
A popular group and family activity, particularly in autumn when the weather plays along, is a ‘full moon hike’. Departing at 18h30 just before the moon rises, walking in silence on any of our scenic hiking routes, watching the spectacular moon rising over Mt Anderson,with a strong possibility of seeing some of the nocturnal animals that occur on the farm (leopards, jackals, brown hyenas, aardwolwe, porcupines, servals, civets). Of course, a pair of good infra red binoculars, will enhance the experience no end.
Returning at about 20h30 to the ‘Miners Canteen’ for your well earned braai and your favourite red wine, around a roaring log fire.
See the ‘Full Moon Hike’ page for more details.
“Surrey with a Fringe on Top”
A Surrey Family Picnic
Paardeplaats ‘Family Therapy’ Surrey Picnics:
Create a real “fun day”, while being in pristine nature, on Paardeplaats! We can arrange a “tractor and trailer picnic” for between 6 and 20 people, held at a choice of 4 different picnic spots, all with breathtakingly beautiful, panoramic views. These fun picnics are ideal for families, friends or team building exercises.
Seated in ‘olde worlde’ style, on the Paardeplaats “Surrey with a Fringe on top”, on cumfortable benches, you will experience nature at a slow pace and enjoy the fun, the laughter, the birds, the small game and the views, as you travel along routes, on top of our world, that you will remember for many years to come. All you would need to bring along with you, is your hat, block-out cream, cameras and binoculars and for serious birders a “Roberts” would be very useful.
Either catered or self catered, a picnic usually takes up to 5 or 6 hours – remember we might travel up to 10km and picnic for an hour or three. The food can include good wholesome picnic fare or more sophisticated salads, cheeses, snacks and breads, all prepared by ex “Tonteldoos Bistro’s” Saucy Chef, Brian Whitehorn, and accompanied by your favourite drinks chilled to perfection.
The picnics are of course weather permitting, and bearing in mind that on top of our mountains, at 2000 meters above sea level, we are in a mist belt, with the chance of heavy rain, in summer. However with the assistance of the reasonably accurate weather forecasts, that we have these days, we should be able to plan quite accurately ahead.
For catered picnics, prices start from R180 pp, please refer to our “Saucy Chef” (click here) page for suggested ideas and menus. If you would prefer to do your own catering, the picnic price is R100 pp.
As an added extra we can organise an experienced nature conservationist to accompany you on a guided tour through nature. His fee is R1500 for the day, and he would share his knowledge, pass interesting comment and point out details, that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Please feel free to discuss details with Brian, as the possibilities are endless and could be very exciting, if well planned.
Birding on Paardeplaats Nature Retreat:
The farm is covered by patches of a few different types of protea, mainly the Silver Protea and Common Sugarbush (protea roupellia and protea caffra). The Transvaal Bottle Brush is also quite common in the area, as is the aloe arborescence. Together these are the home and feeding and breading ground for the much sought after Gurney’s Sugarbird, researched by Dawie de Swardt of the National Museum in Bloemfontein. Paardeplaats’ Jesus Hill features on the international birding atlas and is shown on the Mpumalanga Nature Conservation Map, as highly sensitive, because of the sugarbird’s association with these trees. The sugarbirds do not only forage exclusively on the nectar of the flowers, but also use the trees as their main nesting sites.
We opperate a “vulture restaurant” where we regularly feed Cape vultures and other birds of prey on “clean” carcasses. It is quite a spectacle to see 50 vultures on a carcass!
See our bird-list of about 200 bird species which have been recorded in the Paardeplaats area, by Dawie in his 25 years of research on the farm and surrounds. Please let us know, and add to this list, if you make a new discovery! We recently added the Knysna Lourie, which we have spotted at the Lodge, to this list.
The area close to the Anglo Boer War forts, because of its remote situation, is a popular breeding site for Denham’s Bustards in early spring.
Our beloved Elande on the Jafri Hiking Trail
Fauna on Paardeplaats Nature retreat:
There are a host of different types of small game to be found on the farm – grey rhebok, mountain reed buck, klipspringer, oribi, duiker, rooikatte, jackals, porcupines, bush pigs, honey badgers, not to mention the darn baboons and vervet monkeys – We recently discovered two warthogs, whom we have named “Pumba” & “Mufasa” – all these are part of our daily encounters. There is a migrating herd of eland, totaling about 30 and often more, that regularly visit the farm, as well as rare encounters with brown hyena (they are mainly nocturnal) and even leopards. In 2004 there was a mother with two cubs resident in “Masjienkloof”. In July 2013 we caught a young female who had been preying on our neighbors goats. She was sent to Maholoholo for rehab, as she had damaged her claws. She was recently released again. Our farm dog “Umjoji” had a tetatet with a young female on Christmas day 2013, fortunately no one was injured! All these are complimented by our beloved wild horses, who, legend has it, date back to the Anglo Boer War and before (remember the name of the farm which is dated September 1874!).
Flora – Wild Flowers on Paardeplaats:
Plant lovers will appreciate the wealth of “fynbos” and sub-alpine indigenous species – Rothmania Capensis, several different proteas, Aloe arborescence, Transvaal bottlebrush, buddleias, and Erica, Agapanthus inapertus, scyzzostyllis, Nerina filifolia, arum lilies, red hot pokers, Brunsvigia natalensis, and several different species of watsonia and gladioli.
There are many different orchids to be found in the wetter areas, in summer, and are well worthy of interest and research. An orchid, Brownleea Graminicola, is found exclusively on Paardeplaats, under the boulders, on one of the south east facing hills on the farm – very special! If we are present, you would be welcome to borrow our copy of “A Field Guide to the Orchids of South Africa”
Lost? with Umjoji on top of the world
Altitude Training on the Long Tom mountain Pass:
Paardeplaats, at 2000m above sea level, falls within the high altitude training requirements, in perfectly safe and secure surroundings. The annual Longtom Marathon, held in March, runs past our gate on the main road to Sabie. At 12 km from Lydenburg and 43 km from Sabie, this is the ideal destination for Altitude Training.
Easter “Sonrise” service
at the Cross on the Jesuskop
A start to the beautiful night sky
A Saucy Chef Salade Niçoise
Saucy Chefs’ Brian & Marina “cooking up a storm”
Saucy Chefs’ having fun in the
kitchen with host”Ou” Brian
Spiritual Retreat on Paardeplaats Nature Retreat :
We love to offer our facility as a spiritual retreat, with all it has to offer. The tranquility, peace and solitude, lends itself to a perfect venue for up to 8-12 people, or even a church service up at the cross
Star Gazing the Paardeplaats Night Skys:
Enthusiasts will find the clear night skies, on Paardeplaats, especially in the crisp cooler nights of winter, very special and rewarding indeed. One has to take the moon into consideration! Situated in the “mist belt”, we don’t always have clear skies, however when you strike the “jack pot”, it is always well worth the effort, and for those who are well equipped with telescopes etc. the smog free skies are very special and rather spectacular!
ACTIVITIES SITUATED CLOSE TO PAARDEPLAATS:
Craft Beer Tasting:
Only 8 km from the farm. Good food and beer!
Great family fun, in the mountains, only 15km from the farm.
Of the very best river fishing in South Africa. For the purist this is a must. This would need to be arranged before hand, and could be a a special experience for the whole family – packing a picnic basket, leaving at sunrise, experiencing true river fishing, and returning in the late afternoon. Situated 30km from the farm.
Kruger Park Day Trips:
Paardeplaats is situated just one hour from the Pabeni Gate and one and a half hours from the Kruger Gate, driving through some of the most beautiful mountain scenery to get there.
AFRISCAPES PHOTOGRAPHY &
SAUCY CHEF COOKERY COURSES on PAARDEPLAATS NATURE RETREAT:
We host landscape photography adventures and workshops that will not only improve your photography skills but also take you to places that you always wanted to visit. You will have the opportunity to get those special landscape photos while being at some of the most beautiful and iconic locations you always dreamed off, all under the expert guidance of internationally acclaimed photographer, Des Jacobs.
Saucy Chef Cookery Courses:
We also host, weekend and one day, cookery courses on Paardeplaats. Saucy Chef Cookery Courses are aimed at those who enjoy fellowship and share a passion for food – not for food snobs or critics, but for people who derive pleasure and fun from the process of planning, preparing and presenting food, and enjoying the pleasure and ambiance created around the table. Our hands-on workshops are not only demonstrations, but rather an invite to a fun party, and meal, enjoying the process while learning. Participants are taught to handle the “heat in the kitchen”, without burning their fingers, and they receive all the recipes, relating to the course.
The One Day Courses are held on the farm and are normally planned around a luncheon accommodating up to 18 people. This can be made up of individuals, groups of friends, birthday parties, or work colleagues, or even year-end functions or team building functions. Weekend Courses are intended for couples or friends who share a mutual interest in culinary pleasures. They are intended to be fun, and very sociable, based on the fellowship of friends.
See our Saucy Chef page for the details of proposed Weekend Courses for 2018 (Click here for more information)
SAUCY CHEF COOKERY COURSES @ Paardeplaats Nature Retreat
MAIN FARM TELEPHONE: 013 110 0320
Brian Cell: 082 416 1379 Gerda 079 515 7799
Farm Cell: 079 694 9462
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.paardeplaats.co.za