Freelance writer M. Timothy O'Keefe toured South Africa after
attending the Indaba trade show in Durban. His report on the Kagga
Kamma Game Reserve follows:
KAGGA KAMMA GAME RESERVE, South Africa -- This 1,240-acre
private game reserve high in the Ceder Bergen Mountains of the West
Cape is the only place in South Africa where the indigenous Bushmen
(known as San people) remain.
The Bushmen, who still use traditional bows and poisoned arrows,
are allowed their pick of the reserve's game herd, which includes
hundreds of small antelope, especially springbok.
Visits with the
Bushmen as well as game drives are two of the daily excursions
offered at Kagga Kamma, located at the edge of the Great Karroo
about 170 miles northeast of Cape Town, a region filled with large,
weathered sandstone formations in many unusual shapes.
Kagga Kamma comprises two camps. The Rest Camp contains eight
thatch-roofed chalets, each with three bedrooms and up to two
baths. At the nearby Bushman Lodge, which is adjacent to a
restaurant and bar, five luxury Bushman-style huts and 10 luxury
"cave" rooms are built at the base of a towering sandstone cliff.
From a distance, the caves appear to be built into the side of the
cliff, but they are individually constructed, freestanding
structures. Breakfast and lunch are served in the restaurant;
dinner, weather permitting, is served under the stars.
Kagga Kamma's game reserve, which can be explored freely in a
sport-utility vehicle, is home to five endangered species:
white-tail gnu, bontebok, leopard, black eagle and southern
speckled padloper tortoise.
One of the reserve's excursions showcases the remarkable
drawings embedded in the porous sandstone, while another lets
visitors enjoy a cocktail at the edge of the 1,640-foot-deep
The main attraction is Kagga Kamma's family of 27 Bushmen, South
Africa's only representatives of the nomadic San people,
hunter-gatherers who have existed in the region for almost 30,000
years. The Bushmen left the country to move farther north after
Boer farmers and their fences made a nomadic lifestyle impossible.
But even in their new homes, in Botswana and Namibia, the Bushmen,
whose culture is sometimes described as Stone Age, had difficulty
adapting to modern constraints.
When the survival of one Bushman family living in the Kalahari
was highlighted on a South African television show, Kagga Kamma
managing director Pieter de Waal said that one statement in the
program, titled "If Only We Could Hunt Again," prompted him to
contact the Bushmen about the possibility of moving to his game
reserve. De Waal said that when he met with the Bushmen, "They were
immediately interested and said [moving to Kagga Kamma] could not
be worse than their present situation in the Kalahari."
Kagga Kamma built a school for the children, and regular medical
attention was made available to all the Bushmen. The arrangement
appears to have worked well for both sides, de Waal said. "The
Bushmen are an attraction at Kagga Kamma, so we benefit. They make
a living here by selling their handicrafts to tourists, so they
benefit," he said.
To help ensure that the Bushmen do not lose touch with their
traditional ways, about 27 of them live at Kagga Kamma for a
six-month period, then rotate with family members who still live in
the Kalahari. While at Kagga Kamma, the Bushmen retain their
privacy by meeting visitors for only two hours each morning at a
small hut settlement they built when they arrived first in 1991.
The rest of the day, the Bushmen do as they please, and their
settlement is off-limits to visitors.
From December to May, South Africa's summer, bookings for Kagga
Kamma should be made well in advance. From Nov. 1, the package rate
for day visitors, which includes two guided excursions and a buffet
lunch, is approximately $70 per person, with reduced rates for
children. An overnight stay, which includes three meals and two
excursions, will cost about $105 per person in the Rest Camp
chalets and $155 per person for either the Bushmen huts or cave
rooms of the Bushmen Lodge.
Agents earn 10% commission but pay rises to 20% if the package
is mentioned in tour operator brochures.
Fly-in and drive-in transfers from Cape Town can be arranged.
Driving time from Cape Town is about three-and-a-half hours, with
the last part of the trip over mountainous dirt roads.
Kagga Kamma, e-mail: [email protected]