A last-minute decision for a weekend break to Sutherland over the Easter Weekend and the hunt was on to find available accommodation that suited our trip and type of experience we wanted to have. As it was Easter, we had limited choices in town and we were fortunate enough to find our happy place at Blesfontein.
Blesfontein is a working guest farm about 28 km south west of Sutherland on the Bo-Visrivier road. It is more or less a 40-minute drive from Sutherland to the farm and with the little Jimny it even took us a bit longer as we spotted some game and flowers along the road. You do not need a 4×4 to reach the farm, but we will recommend a vehicle with a good ground clearance as it is gravel all to the way.
At Blesfontein you experience the Karoo lifestyle and rhythm. This is the ideal place to get unplugged from all modern technology and realize once again that there are a gazillion stars out there in the night sky. And this is precisely what we came to experience in Sutherland – starry Karoo nights, fresh air, and perfect sunsets to compliment the slow life on the farm! Remember this is an extremely low rainfall area with regular droughts so please take care of the vegetation when walking in the veld and use water wisely.
The farm lies on the escarpment of the Tankwa Karoo where the temperatures from June to October plunges considerably and it gets to cold and wet for the livestock. This is the time of the year that the livestock are moved to De Hoop (a farm below the escarpment in the Tankwa) where temperatures are at least 10° C warmer and the stock can survive. A visit to the escarpment is an absolutely must do activity in the late afternoon. We packed our Stanley flask, scarves and beanies and drove the 5 km down to the viewpoint, where we were rewarded with one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. After dark, after all the other guests already left, we attempted our first star trail picture and, man, were we impressed with the outcome!
Of course being children of Africa, we did some animal spotting on our way back to the chalet and spotted many bat eared foxes, steenbokkies, zebra, rabbits and many more eyes blinking in the headlights of the Jimny that we could not recognize immediately.
For the kids there are horseback and pony rides – weather permitting of course – feeding the koi fish in the cement dam, interact with the alpacas and just ride their bicycles (bring your own) on the wide open spaces of the farm until they are tired and hungry. To sum it up – they can just enjoy farm life!
When staying on the farm there is no need to drive to town for some star gazing at the planetarium as the farm has its own private amateur observatory where Nicol shares his knowledgeable and passion. This is a free service provided to farm guests, but to enable him to keep his telescope serviced donations are accepted as a gesture of appreciation. Again, put on your beanie, take a mug of coffee and a jacket as it can get chilly at the planetarium boma. This is a must do when on Blesfontein!
On our first night we arrived a bit late (and rattled to the bone) so we ordered a delicious lamb curry from Marina, which was delivered with her broad smile at our unit. lamb chops and chips are also available on the menu
Our mission for 2021 is when we are travelling and exploring, to support local farmers as much as possible as they are hard hit by the ongoing drought, and has to make ends meet in other ways.
NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
Where: 32°28’04.2 S and 20°6’10.8 E (Sutherland, Northern Cape)
Tourism Grading Council: 2 stars
Firewood: available on site
Mobile phone reception: no Vodacom and Cell C, MTN only at the private farmhouse
Meals: bring your own – there is not a supermarket on the farm
Shopping: only a curio shop selling alpaca products like scarves, socks, beanies, etcetera
The best view: unit 6 – The Hay Stable