A leopard and its camping spots

Words Mark Samuel photography Mark Samuel, Meghan Spilsbury and courtesy of Leopard Trail


Leopard Trail campsite and 4×4 trail

In search of a little piece of heaven that feels far from civilisation, but won’t have you spending hours behind the steering wheel getting there? We’ve found just the place!

The location for our Metalian Mini off-road trailer review (page 44) was the rustic mountain setting of the Leopard Trail, near Bonnievale in the Western Cape.

Set on a working fruit and cattle farm, the Leopard Trail provides a self-catering guesthouse boasting six bedrooms and four bathrooms (sleeps 24). There’s also a barn-style cottage that can accommodate six people in three bedrooms. However, we made use of the bush camp right at the foot of the mountains and a short walk from a picturesque dam, where there’s lots of space for rustic camping. The bush camp’s facilities include abundant firewood (which you chop yourself), flushing toilets, hot showers, a lapa, a boma, braai facilities and delicious mountain water on tap. There is no electricity at the stands, however, so come fully prepared.

If lazing about a campsite all day isn’t your idea of a holiday, you can try your hand at bass fishing, go mountain climbing, swim in the dams, take a nature walk, paddle the canoes on the water, or choose from three scenic 4×4 routes. The routes are challenging yet manageable, with plenty of obstacles to keep you on the edge of your seat.

If you’re an animal lover, keep your eyes peeled for a variety of bird and animal life. We were treated to an afterdark sighting of a genet, as he scurried about through the trees near our camp. Stepping out of our rooftop tent in the morning, we encountered one of nature’s smaller critters, a scorpion, so we’d suggest you double-check your shoes and socks before putting them on.

The drive up to the bush camp takes you on a winding path through the orchards and passes grazing cattle, which sets the scene for a true farm experience. The short drive from Cape Town (just two hours) makes the Leopard Trail an easy destination after work on a Friday, for one of those last-minute weekend getaways, but we’d highly recommend a longer stay to truly appreciate all that’s available.

Farm owners Johan and Lizette Kriel are passionate about their piece of heaven, and can always be found in or around the entrance to the farmstead if you need assistance or advice.

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