Activities in the area
Anything from whale watching to wine tasting.
Farm 215- Private Nature Reserve is a sustainable destination in Uilkraal Valley, 20km from Gansbaai on the road to Cape Agulhas, Africa's Southern most point.
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Farm 215 – Private Nature Reserve is a sustainable destination in the Uilkraal Valley, 20 km from Gansbaai on the road to Cape Agulhas, Africa’s southernmost point. The retreat is accessed via a wobbly farm road which has a varying level of smoothness, but is always suitable for all normal cars.
A PLACE TO TREAD LIGHTLY
Far removed from the daily grind of life, farm 215 is a private, intimate and secluded retreat where you can enjoy spacious accommodation, tranquility, an overpowering sense of space and the unique nature of the Cape Floral Kingdom, the richest floral biome in the world. The retreat lies at the foot of “fynbos”-covered mountains in the middle of a pristine private nature reserve of 800 hectares and enjoys undisturbed views over the Agulhas Plains towards the ocean. The reserve is a Protected Area and a sanctuary for hundreds of rare, endemic and common fynbos plants of the threatened Cape Floral Kingdom, known for its weird and wonderful shapes and flowers.
The retreat of farm 215 is clearly off the beaten track in a very natural area and its buildings are in an isolated position. Nature rules supreme. Where all attention is given to the comfort and quality of the accommodation and its amenities, farm 215 is not a resort, but a place where people can retire in rural and natural surroundings in a down-to-earth and relaxed guesthouse.
The water that comes out of the tap is sourced from high up in the reserve and has the typical yellow-golden color of water from fynbos catchments, caused by tannins. The water source is in a pristine natural area and the water is not affected by any non-natural bodies. It is fully safe to drink and tastes fresh and delicious but there is always bottled (white) water in the room for those with a fear for natural water.
Farm 215 has been set up and is managed as a sustainable operation and is a Protected Area (PA) under the National Environmental Management Protected Areas Act. We place the integrity of the natural ecosystem around us in the first place and aim to keep the footprint of both ourselves and our guests as low as possible. Farm 215´s partner, the African Horse Company has its base station on farm 215 and the reserve is the first reforestation site of the Trees for Tourism program of the South African Reforestation Trust. Since 2017 farm 215 is in partnership with Fauna and Flora International.
Farm 215 offers two types of accommodation: three spacious rooms in the old farmstead and three freestanding fynbos suites, spaced out along a meandering path and surrounded by pristine vegetation. The restaurant and bar is connected with a wooden boardwalk to a lap pool of 25m All rooms and suites have en suite bathrooms with bath and separate shower, lounge-chairs, a writing desk, covered deck or balcony, and a woodstove. And all of them have sweeping views over an undisturbed landscape. There is no television, neither in the rooms, nor in any of the lounges. Farm 215 is not a place for televisions. There is, however, a large book-collection on many subjects, but with a certain bias to nature and conservation.
The fynbos suites are large and modern freestanding and offer pure seclusion and privacy. The views sweep un-interrupted over the unspoilt Agulhas Plains towards the ocean and down towards the lake of Kraaiboschdam and surrounding vineyards of our neighbours, Lomond Wine Estate. Three big glass sliding doors open up to the covered wooden deck stretched out over the whole front of the suite. They exists out of three interconnected spaces: lounge, bed- and bath-area. The shower and toilet are accessed by the only inside-door in the suite, but the bath stands rather shamelessly in front of a large window.
Electricity-wise each suite is totally independent and powered solely by its own solar-panels cum invertor. This fact has no influence on the level of comfort; not even in winter. There is however one compromise to be made as a result of the use of solar-power: hair-dryers swallow too much current and cannot be used.
There are two guest-rooms on the first floor of the homestead and one on the ground floor. The upstairs rooms have wooden floors and are spacious and light and enjoy endless views from the bed over this unspoiled part of the Overberg through large sash-windows. Both have a balcony. The downstairs room is the largest and the coolest in summer and has a covered terrace and a private garden filled with chattering birds in the morning.
Each room has comfortable chairs or a couch and ample packing-space. Though these rooms clearly have modern elements, they have a more traditional feel than the fynbos suites.
THE RESERVE OF FARM 215
The 800 hectare reserve is a rare sanctuary for hundreds of plant species, an important local catchment area and an essential meeting place of different fynbos vegetation types, including the ultra-endemic “Elim fynbos” with several endangered plant species. The reserve of 800 hectares runs from close to sea-level at its lowest to 492m at its highest peak: “Perdekop”. Farm 215 is part of the Walkerbay Fynbos Conservancy, creating a natural corridor from farm 215 in the east to the shores of the Hermanus Lagoon in the West. The mountain slopes of the reserve are covered with rich and unspoiled so called “Overberg Mountain Fynbos”, a vegetation type adapted to the near-desert situation of the Western Cape summers and its wet winters. The valleys and “kloofs” (canyons) that -right in front of your feet- suddenly and surprisingly cut deep into the land of farm 215, however harbour a totally different natural world. Down there, water always flows abundantly. Next to the streams, natural ponds and waterfalls, reed-beds, indigenous forest and thicket provide shelter for different species of antelope, resting place for baboons and hunting grounds for the cape clawless otter. Farm 215 has an extensive infrastructure of hiking trails and farm roads of more than 20 kilometers.The ‘Klipspringer’ mountain bike trail runs through the reserve of farm 215. The trail is a 30km circular route traversing five private properties within the Walker Bay Fynbos Conservancy.
FAUNA AND FLORA
An estimated 800 plant species are represented on farm 215, including 34 species of the Protea family, over 30 Erica species, more than 20 Orchid species, 16 moraeas, 15 Gladiolus species and 50 “red data species” (species listed on the IUCN red data list to reflect that their continued survival in the wild is threatened). Peak flowering times are spring and autumn, but there are always many species flowering all year round. Due to the different habitats animals and birds are abundant in the reserve. A large tribe of baboons spends the night at the foot of the waterfall. Six different “bokkies” (antelope species) are resident or regular visitors. Bat-eared fox, genet, honey badger, cape clawless otter, caracal, porcupine and mongoose regularly leave visible traces and the movements of leopards in the Walker Bay Fynbos Conservancy is monitored. The rare Cape eagle owl and Black harrier both have raised chicks in the reserve for several consecutive years. The Black eagle keeps our hyrax population in check and a plethora of sunbirds and sugarbirds hop from Protea to Erica. Of the reptiles, you cannot fail to see the Rock agama, present in huge numbers between the rocks. When you are lucky, you may spot a snake (there are over 10 snake species in the reserve).
SUSTAINABILITY THE DIFFERENCE
Farm 215 is one of the pioneers in sustainable hospitality in South Africa. The guesthouse infrastructure has been designed to be compatible with the surrounding nature and to serve the primary purpose of farm 215: the conservation of a unique piece of the Cape Floral Kingdom on the basis of a small-scale sustainable operation. Guesthouse operations are done in accordance with strict “green” guidelines including use of solar energy, water recycling, use of biodegradable products land and fire management and rehabilitation. Farm 215 is under Stewardship of Cape Nature. The reserve of farm 215 is part of the Walkerbay Fynbos Conservancy.
Water is sourced from the mountain catchment in the reserve. Surplus water is routed back into the stream and wetland after being routed through sandbanks. There is zero downstream effect as a result of the water-use in the guesthouse. No chemicals are used for the filtration of the water and it maintains its golden-brown colour, typical of fynbos catchment areas when it comes out of the tap.
When the reserve of farm 215 was established in 2002, step one was the restoration of the natural integrity of the land. The area where the fynbos suites are now proudly surrounded by pristine fynbos suites was a forest of alien invasive pines and large tracts of the land were disturbed and/or covered with alien invasive vegetation. Years of hard work have cleared streams, poisoned by the litter of invasive blue gum-trees, have rehabilitated wetlands, drained to serve unsustainable agricultural practice of the past and have brought eroded hills back to pristine fynbos covered slopes.
Limited wild flower harvesting (an essential local source of employment) of selected species is undertaken by the Flower Valley Conservation Trust on the basis of sustainable harvesting techniques as developed by ABI (Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative) and all organic material not required for the final product is cleared and left in the field.
The income from the Guesthouse is by far the main source of funding for the reserve and for the extra costs involved with the sustainable and responsible management techniques and infrastructure. Without tourism a place like farm 215 could not function.
REFORESTATION TREES FOR TOURISM
Farm 215 is the first reforestation site of the Trees for Tourism program of the South African Forest Trust. An area, cleared from alien invasive vegetation is re-forested with indigenous tree-species. To date 14’000 trees have been planted out in the reserve of farm 215. These trees are on their way to create South Africa’s youngest indigenous forest. The benefit is already showing through an increase in birdlife and wildlife, declined erosion and increased water-retention of the streambanks.
Farm 215 caters for all meals of the day for the guests. All produce is sourced locally and as far as possible the ingredients are organic. Practically all the vegetables, herbs, eggs and some fruit are produced on the farm itself. Most of the meat comes from a neighbouring cattle and sheep farm. The chef decides what will be on the menu. That is what chefs are for. Yet if there are any food allergies, if you are a vegetarian etc, we kindly need to know in advance. If you would like to have dinner on your night of arrival, it is helpful if you make a reservation in advance
The retreat is in the middle of the Cape Agulhas wine-region, the newest wine-region of South Africa between Gansbaai and Cape Agulhas, and all our wines (which include all main grape cultivars) come from four local estates: for example Hermanuspietersfontein situated in the mountains behind farm 215 and Stanford Hills, just outside of Stanford. Hermanuspietersfontein is member of the Biodiversity Wine Initiative (BWI) The goals of the BWI are to minimise the further loss of threatened natural habitat, and to contribute to sustainable wine production, through the adoption of biodiversity guidelines by the South African wine industry.
The restaurant has folding doors which open over the whole length of the building to the wooden terrace in front. The dining area has panoramic views over the lake of Kraaiboschdam, surrounding vineyards and Overberg mountains that keep rolling on as far as your eyes can see. In between meals you can help yourself in the dining area to whatever you want to drink. Perfect coffee and a wide selection of tea are of course available. If you wish, you can take lunch with you in a picnic basket on your day-trip.
The dining area, as all new buildings in the reserve, is powered by solar electricity. A fire-place and two woodstoves make the dining area a very comfortable place to be during the chilly season.
The 25m lap-pool, filled with mountain water, is reached via a winding wooden boardwalk from the deck in front of the restaurant.
Whale watching, shark diving, beaches, swimming, bird-watching and the rest of the plethora of things to do and to see is extensively described and pictured in other sections of this website. Below we will shortly list the specifics of the reserve of farm 215 and the valley which is farm 215’s home: the Uilkraal Valley.
The reserve of farm 215 has over 20 km of marked and unmarked trails which meander over hills and through valleys. Whatever the time of the year, there are always numerous plants flowering. Hikes can take up from a short stroll to the better part of the day. A picnic bag-pack can be prepared.
The ‘Klipspringer’ mountain bike trail runs through the reserve of farm 215. It is a 30km circular route traversing five private properties within the Walker Bay Fynbos Conservancy. Guests of farm 215 can start from the guesthouse. The ride is quite challenging and is classified as a black route on the basis of its terrain and difficulty.
Farm 215 is the home station of the African Horse Company, organising outrides and multi-day trails. The horses roam wild in the reserve, are stress free and sure-footed. Horse riding novices can be catered for with bomb proof horses.
The reserve of farm 215 is a perfect place to enjoy the specific birds of the Cape Floral Kingdom such as sunbirds, sunbirds and cape rock jumpers. Several birds of prey and other larger birds such as blue cranes can be seen as well.
A massage in the privacy of your room can be organised by professional masseurs.
BUY A TREE
At the reception of Farm 215 you can buy a tree either for yourself of for someone else to be planted out on the reserve of farm 215, the first reforestation site of Trees for Tourism. Help to create South Africa’s youngest indigenous forest!
WALKS IN PLATBOS FOREST
On the other side of the Uilkraal Valley is Platbos Forest, an ancient remnant, a botanical mystery and Africa’s southernmost indigenous forest. It is a short drive to this jewel with several hiking trails under the canopy of ancient trees.
WINE TASTING AT LOMOND
The restaurant of Farm 215 overlooks the vineyards of Lomond Wines. Its extreme southerly location, proximity to the sea and varied soils with unique terroir, contribute to some very distinctive single-vineyard wines that amply reflect their origins. Foodplatters are available. Open Tuesday to Saturday 10 - 16.
BAARDSKEERDERSBOS ART ROUTE
Farm 215’s eastern neighbour is the hamlet of Baardskeerdersbos. It is small and very rural but is home to several renowned artists. Several times a year all the artists show their work during the Baardskeerdersbos Art Route.
In light of the current water restrictions throughout parts of the Western Cape we feel it is important that our guests and partners in tourism are advised that Farm 215 Private Nature Reserve is not experiencing any water restrictions. Farm 215 has its own approved water source in the reserve and water is plenty. Please note that the downstream effect of the water-use on farm 215 is practically nil since all used water is routed back in to the streams in the reserve.
In general, this part of the Overberg is not experiencing any water issues. In particular the towns/villages of Gansbaai, De Kelders, Franskraal, Kleinbaai (sharks and whales), Stanford and Baardskeerderbos, are not experiencing water restrictions . The Kraaibosdam on the land of our neighbours, Lomond Wine Estate, fed partly from the mountain catchment on farm 215, provides irrigation for Lomond Vineyards, but also water for Franskraal, Kleinbaai, Gansbaai and De Kelders and is still full.
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Anything from whale watching to wine tasting.
Our baboons love having their photo taken especially the babies and juveniles.