Buchu Plant along a Horse About Trail
The magical and aromatic Buchu was officially listed as a medicine in the British Pharmacopoeia in 1821! The medicinal benefits of the shrub were known for years by the Khoi pastoralists.
This evergreen aromatic shrub can grow up to 2m high, with oval leaves 10 – 20 mm long, and white to pink flowers. Fruits are five-segmented capsules which split open when dry to release the small black seeds.
Buchu is a highly valued commodity and a license is required to harvest the bushes, but sadly in many areas over harvesting has lead to a reduction in naturally occurring Buchu.
Buchu grows along of our fynbos routes, on the higher slopes, it's strong scent is released when brushed by the horses leaves. In fact the genus name "Agathosma" means "good fragrance".
For more information on the wonderful properties of this plant, read more
Special requests are well... Special!!. Be it for a birthday celebration or any special event.. so it was with much excitement that we received a recent request to arrange a "romantic ride ending somewhere I can propose to my girlfriend". And what more romantic than a horseback ride at full moon ending at a table set for two on the dam wall?
Having had some unexpected and unusual cloudy weather a few nights before full moon, we were all relieved when the day turned out to be a beautiful summers day. Our guests arrived just after sunset and headed out for a breathtaking ride through the darkening forest up to the top of the farm with the rays of the moon just starting to light the valley below.
I was anxiously waiting with the table, picnic and MCC on ice watching the rays get ever brighter as the rugged tops of the Witzenberg mountains silhouette got ever brighter.. after all we needed them to be seated, alone at the table when the moon rose!
Setting up the table and lighting candles on the dam wall raised the curiosity of the horses grazing nearby and they all wandered over to see what this late night fuss was all about.. finding no carrots available they went back to the serious task of mowing grass!
Hard to imagine anything more peaceful than sitting on the along the waters edge with a herd of horses grazing peacefully under the light of the moon oh and of course accompanied by the song of frogs!
John's timing was perfect and we had the very nervous man and love of his life seated (alone) with MCC in hand before the moon crested over the mountains.
And she said YES!! :-)
So next time you are thinking of a special event or unique way to propose, contact us and let us arrange a very special outing!
Cape Sugar bird
Our Witzenberg Trail travels high up into the foothills of the Witzenberg mountains with a bird’s eye view of the Tulbagh, Wolseley and Breede River Valleys below us. And speaking of birds, these protea “forests” are home to the Cape Sugarbird. During the drier summer months the flowering proteas are found at higher altitudes and the birds are not so commonly seen, but as the weather cools and the proteas start to flower, the sugar birds return. Their long claws enable them to cling onto the blooms even in howling gales, although the males long tails are a little more inelegant in strong winds.
Unlike many other birds, breeding season is during the winter months, coinciding with the peak protea flowering season.
The Cape Sugarbird (Promerops cafer) is endemic to the fynbos biome of the Western Cape and is highly dependant on proteas for nectar and nesting. As they feed predominantly on the nectar of proteas and fynbos, the sugar birds are also essential pollinator for these species.
The Witzenberg Valley is home to a wide variety of birds and is the ideal location for anyone interested in Bird Watching. The varied terrains and habitats from waterways to mountains are home to many identified species. Ask your hosts for more information.
Laughing Donki by Sally Ings
Laws are made to protect people generally and animals too of course, but one has to wonder at need for some of these laws, obviously the "crimes" have been tried or does some bored bureaucrat simply sit there and imagine all the possibilities???
These are a few laws relating to horses that still appear in the legislation of of some towns in the USA...
But the all time classic must be "Horses may not be kept in bathtubs." now go figure that one....
"But you live in the Karoo" is the frequent forlorn cry from capetonian friends when informing them that a visit is long over due.. Once the offers of fresh country air, great cape wines and lazy days twists those arms into packing for the expedition to Tulbagh, we are then usually met with "wow that was much quicker than we thought..."
Gauteng friends and guests all insist that Capetonians are simply lazy and that a drive from the deep south to the CBD is an considered an expedition in itself - but we have to agree that Cape Town is the most beautiful city and with mountains and beaches on your doorstep who can blame you for staying put...especially when you are frequently trading one set of traffic for another when visiting many of the well known country, winelands destinations.
That is what makes the Witzenberg Valley special - this valley is still very much a hidden gem. Traffic and crowds are rare while the views, country hospitality, award winning wines and great food are legendary. Do your children believe that milk is made in machines and eggs grow in boxes - then you might like to experience a visit to a working farm. If you cant quite deal with sleeping without street lights and like to have restaurants and other amenities close at hand, then you can may prefer one of the guest houses or 4 star lodgings in town..
The Witzenberg Valley is home to Tulbagh, Wolseley and Ceres and an easy day trip from Cape Town!
And for those spontaneous folk who wake up to a sunshiny morning and decide it is time to escape the confines of the city, why not try the route less travelled - and you don't need to leave before sunrise to enjoy this day out!
Head out on the N1 and take the Stellenbosch/ Klapmuts/ Wellington turn-off. Take a left onto the R44. Follow this road into Wellington main street (Champagne Road).
At the T-Junction turn let into Piet Retief Road. Heading down the hill at the traffic light turn right into Kerk Straat / Church Street. At this traffic light you will see the church on your left. Once turning right into Kerk Straat / Church Street, follow this road through the town, it will take you up the mountain into the Bainskloof Pass - don't rush, there are plenty of photo opportunities and hikes along the route. In summer you can swim in the rock pools.
Come out of the pass and stay on the R301/R303 until you reach the Winterberg Mountain Inn highly recommended for a stop over be it a delectable coffee break or fabulous country lunch (booking recommended) from Winterberg join the R46 and turn left towards Tulbagh.
For the active adrenalin seekers you will want to take a right and drive through the Michell's Pass to the Zipslide! for a scenic exhilarating outing through the mountains.
Back towards Tulbagh - worthwhile stops to look out for are Waverley Hills and The Farmyard Honey Factory continuing towards Tulbagh your next stop is the Kimilli Cheese Farm (call before to confirm visit) then onto horseAbout (of course) for a breathtaking horse ride through vineyards and forests.
And before heading back towards the city pop into Tulbagh for a meander down the historic Church Street, enjoy a meal or relaxed coffee break at one of the many restaurants.
The easiest route home (if you havent decided to stay over for the night) is Via the Nuwekloof Pass, at Hermon you can turn off to Riebeek Kasteel and back to Cape Town via Malmesbury, or you can simply stay on the R44 towards Wellington and back to the N1..
Read what others have said about the Witzenberg Valley
Getaway Blog, Travel Start Blog or Nightjar Travel
Dear John and Jo,
I thoroughly enjoyed the horse ride and your company. Thanks so much for a wonderful evening with great food, lovely horses and beautiful scenery. I definitely want to take my horse riding to the next level – so thanks for inspiring me here.
Claudia - Getaway Magazine, February 2013
We are very excited that our spekboom hedge line is growing spectacularly. Spekboom is frequently referred to as “the Tree of Life” or the miracle plant, due its ability to capture carbon and assist in restoring natural ecosystems. Also known as “olifantskos” (elephant food), spekboom’s other beneficial qualities include improving soil quality, reducing erosion and stimulating the return of biodiversity in an area thanks to it’s soil binding and shading nature. Bees are also shown to be very productive honey makers when the spekboom is in flower.
Spekboom has the unique ability to switch its photosynthetic mechanism from that of a rainforest plant in wet conditions to that of a desert cactus in semi-arid conditions, making it highly efficient for its environment.
Spekboom is also considered a valuable feed for livestock and horses, but according to an 1896 journal farming industries in the Cape Colonies “Where animals are well fed and pampered, they sometimes lose taste for this excellent natural food”.. far it would seem our equestrians are in the well fed & pampered category, we will have to wait and see if Donki takes to sampling.
We have a very exciting new project as part of our volunteer program this year. Some of the residents from the Institute for the Blind of Worcester will be joining us on a regular basis for Equine Therapy. What an incredible experience to introduce this friendly and interested group to our horses. It is a wonderful learning curve for us as well as the residents and as usual Bob and Thunder stole the show as being the most interactive with the new visitors. Although some of the participants had taken part in riding activities previously, this was the first time they learnt about horses, catching, grooming and even leading them! We hope to have them riding soon, but we still need to build a suitable ramp to allow the residents to safely mount and dismount and we are also currently looking for more volunteers to assist during the sessions. For more information on the benefits of riding therapy for the visually impaired or if you would like to assist in any way, please contact Stephne Botha at the Worcester Blind Institute
On our first moonlight rides of the season we were treated to a magical sight. A memory of magic from our childhood - fireflies!!
Did you know?
Glow-Worms & Fireflies. Also known as Lightning bugs and 510Watt worms, Glow-worms and fireflies are in fact neither worms nor flies, but beetles.
Fireflies have dedicated light organs located under their abdomens. The insects take in oxygen and, inside special cells, combine it with a substance called luciferin to produce light with almost no heat. Firefly light is usually intermittent, and flashes in patterns that are unique to each species. Each blinking pattern is an optical signal that helps fireflies find potential mates. The adults of glow-worms and fireflies do not feed, but their larvae prey on snails.
Did you know that fireflies are disappearing all around the world? Human encroachment and pesticides appear to be the main causes. Considering the expanse of forest and damp terrain in our forest, we hope that “our” colony of fireflies will continue to light our way on night rides!
We regularly take novice guests on our rides, many have never ridden a horse, while others are simply terrified of these large creatures. So many people have been told that "horses sense your fear " - this only serves to increase anxiety levels for most people.
Yes horses are very perceptive animals and do sense fear and anxiety, but most horses are kind animals and are not going to react adversely to your nervousness, particularly if the horses are with a leader they trust, be in human or equine.
our guests often giggle or look at us oddly when we remind them to BREATHE! Usually as soon as we say this they exhale deeply and normal colour starts returning..
Why do we say this? Well it is best explained in a few words from the wise man, Monty Roberts - "Breathing is critically important to successfully maintaining low adrenaline levels"
It is very difficult to remain tense if you focus on your breathing for just a short while - and when you are relaxed you will enjoy yourself more.
Horses don't "smell fear" they react to your fearful reactions - your body gets tense, you hold the reins too tightly and most likely you cant focus on what the coach or horse are trying to tell you. So if you find yourself getting tense in any "scary" situation, focus on your breathing - and you'll be surprised how quickly everything changes!
Happy and Safe Riding!
from the Horse About team
My family and I went for a wonderful full moon ride with Jo and John from www.horseabout.co.za on Monday evening to experience the full moon. What we saw was so much more. Whilst riding through the dark and magical forest just before the moon came rose illuminate our way, we were treated to a display of fireflies in the veld. What a magical way to enjoy the full moon.
Sadly at 2pm the next morning we were woken by a veld fire accross the valley from us that had been started at White Bridge and can only have been started by a thoughtless smoker. Please think carefully before you throw a but out the window.
For some of these special experiences in the Witzenberg valley, book into White Bridge Farm Accommodation and enjoy a ride with horse about or a zipline adventure or any of the many wonderful things to do or resturants to experience, wine to drink etc. We live in a magic place
Whitebridge Farm Accommodation, Wolseley
Thank you so much for the excellent ride Sunday morning....we really enjoyed our self. The ride through the forest and scenery was just awesome and Thunder was such a gentle horse even with me that didn’t really know what I was doing. Haha
We will definitely come back for that sunset, breakfast of even that moonlight ride.
Thanks again and a special thank to John.
Emile & Janet
I just want to thank you for the wonderful experience yesterday!
We truly enjoyed it and this was the best ride we have done so far! The woods were breathtaking, John was teaching us constantly with kind words and it was overall extraordinary!
Thanks again - you will see us again!
Thanks Emile and Janet for the great feedback - we loved having you and hope to see you back soon! John, Jo and the Equines!
The spirit of the horse, is a magnificent teacher to humanity. In both their physical, as well as their archetypal form, horses help to bring us back to something wild and unrestrained, reminding us of a sense of freedom that many of us have forgotten. They teach us about honesty and authenticity, because they know no other way of being. They teach us about collaboration over dominance. And they teach us to respect and honor the unknown, rather than fear it and try to destroy it. ~ Tony Stromberg
John & Jo
We are the owners of horseAbout Trails & Adventures in the Western Cape.
“We left the premises with heart full of joy, love for these amazing horses and admiration for the lifestyle of John and his family.”