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Xairu Blue Crane Route


Features

   Accommodation

Below is a list of accommodation establishments along this route. Bookings and enquiries can be made directly with the establishment.

Aan De Kanal Oppie Hoek B&B and Coffee Shop
"Your place of rest after a long and tiring journey." The Aan de Kanal Oppie Hoek B&B and Coffee Shop is situated,...

Barry's Holiday Accommodation
At Barry's, all houses are fully equipped for self-catering and linen and bath towels are supplied. They offer...

Lismore Farm and Cottages
Lismore Farm has been in the Barry family since 1844, before which it was used as a horse-breeding farm for the Dutch Ea...

Skeiding Guest Farm
There is a farm in Africa… Skeiding… Close to the N2 and half way between Cape Town and Knysna Skeiding is...

Suurbraak VGK Backpackers Lodge
This backpackers centre (that is run by the church) has accommodation for 40 people, a fully equipped kitchen and a conf...

Willowtree Cottage
Willowtree Cottage is over 100 years old and was renovated during the latter part of 2002 to give it a home from home at...

Waterkloof Guesthouse
This guesthouse offers bed and breakfast facilities plus dinners. There are four bedrooms, with en-suite bathrooms. A vi...

Honeywood Farm
Honeywood Farm is located alongside Grootvadersbos Nature Reserve in the foothills of the Langeberg Mountains. The farm...

   Activities

Below is a list of arts and crafts outlets and projects on this route. Booking and enquiries can be made directly with the business.

Boosman Ventures
Boosmans Ventures offers day tours of the area (Overberg), e.g. Tradouw Pass, De Hoop Nature Reserve, Grootvadersbosch N...

Goliath W. Davids Theatre Group
Goliath W Davids Theatre Group, is a group of talented local actors that produce theatre productions.

Dasjesdrift Teaterhuis
The Dasjesdrift farm theatre is a beautiful restored manor house on a farm between Heidelberg and Witsand. The architect...

   Arts & Crafts

Below is a list of arts and crafts outlets and projects on this route. Enquiries can be made directly with the business.

Artist - Ann van der Walt
Ann van der Walt is an artist resident in Heidelberg. Visit her home to view or buy paintings in oils and watercolour. L...

Suurbraak Carpentry Co-op
For many years the Suurbraak Chair Bodgers have been carving out an existence as a co-operative worker-owned business. T...

Star Nation Art Studio
Louise explains their business in her own words: “Star Nation Art Studio is my husband and my business. We are bo...

Needlecraft and wool shop
This shop stocks a wide range of material, wool and haberdashery beads are also available. Anette explains: “We...

   Environment

Below is a list of environmental attractions on this route. Booking and enquiries can be made directly with the business.

Grootvadersbos and Boosmansbos Nature Reserve
Grootvadersbosch (near Heidelberg) is one of the province's lesser-known reserves, which, for those who know it and keep...

   Food & Drink

Below is a list of restaurants and other food and beverage outlets on this route. Bookings and enquiries can be made directly with the establishment.

Blue Crane Farm Shop
Blue Crane Farm Shop is a must visit for those passing through the area or for those staying a little longer. The farmst...

Die Ou Wawiel Restaurant
Die Ou Wawiel (which means ‘the old wagon wheel’ - and referring to the old form of transport in the ar...

727 Supermarket
This supermarket sells a variety for groceries needs, and also stocks fresh baked bread and rolls daily. Cellphone airti...

   Services

Below is a list of services on this route. Enquiries can be made directly with the business.

Heidelberg Info
Heidelberg Info is a one-stop-shop for visitors wanting more information about the area, accommodation bookings or a qui...

Suurbraak Tourism Bureau
Suurbraak was a mission station enfolded by the Langeberg Mountains. The village is well worth a visit as many of the or...

Heidelberg SAPS
The police station in Suurbraak is working with the community to make tourism to Suurbraak a safe and pleasant experienc...

JD Auto-lec
JD Auto-lec is an auto electrical business that offers alarms, central locking systems, electrical car accessories, alte...

Spar Heidelberg
Spar is a supermarket with a variety in home essentials. Spar is a service provider for the tourism industry.

Van Der Walt Attorneys
Van Der Walt Attorneys is a general attorneys business, based in a beautiful old building.

 

Overview
History
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The Xairu Blue Crane Route is one of four blue crane routes in the Western Cape. It is located in and around the town of Heidelberg, which is about 276km east of Cape Town on the N2 national road. Heidelberg is fondly known as the 'gateway to the garden route'.

“Xairu” (pronounced with the 'x' as a click sound made by flattening the tongue on the roof of the mouth and then removing it) means “paradise” in the old language of the San people who used to inhabit the area – and it is deserving of its name.

The route covers an area stretching from the impressive Langeberg Mountains, through rolling hills to the coastal dunes. It is, however, mostly farmland, mostly comprising wheat and canola fields – artificial habitat that has become the home of South Africa’s national bird, the blue crane. By simply driving along the roads in the area, one is likely to see flocks of blue cranes – quite often happily amongst flocks of ostriches (ostrich farming is also one of the main income generators in the area).

Reasons to visit

The route has a variety of attractions besides blue cranes. This is the land of charming country farmstalls, restaurants and coffee shops. It is also an area where one has a choice of staying in country hotels, in small B&Bs, on farms or camping in the local nature reserve.

Adventurous activities on the route include hiking, mountain biking, horse riding through the fynbos, and quad biking over the coastal dunes. A stroll through the delightful village of Suurbraak is a must – as here one can see beautiful historical buildings, visit crafters, and have fun at the local farmyard. At Honeywood Farm, learn about bee-keeping and perhaps watch honey being processed. A trip to Heidelberg’s bentonite mine can also be accomplished through prior arrangements. 

Closer to the coast, visitors can experience the only hand-powered pont in the country at Malgas. And of course, a trip to the coast would be made even more special by timing it between June and November to coincide with the whale-breeding season.

A moderate climate, plentiful water, clean air, rural tranquillity, friendly people and numerous activities make the Xairu Blue Crane Route area well deserving of a visit of at least a few days.

Overberg Blue Crane Group

The Overberg Blue Crane Group is an initiative of the local farming community and Western Cape Nature Conservation Board, and is “Committed to conserving our endangered national bird in its last stronghold" – the Western Cape. 

What is exciting about the farming in the area is the fact that many of the farmers have joined together to form what is known as the Grootvadersbosch Conservancy – an amalgamation of farmers working towards a greater conservation ethic.

The Grootvadersbosch Conservancy is made up of 12 farms, the Grootvadersbos Nature Reserve (250ha) and the Boosmansbos Wilderness Area (14200ha). Together, this conservancy is helping to preserve some of the last remaining indigenous forest in the country, as well as protecting areas of mountain fynbos, themeda and renosterveld. Visitors have a wide selection of activities and accommodation to choose from in the conservancy.

Besides Heidelberg, the route also covers the villages of Suurbraak and Slangrivier and stretches to the coast near the village of Witsand.

Natural history

Bentonite is mineral clay derived from the in situ erosion of volcanic ash. It consists mainly of colloidal clay with the ability to swell out enormously when it comes into contact with water.  The clay is mined through an open cast method and is an extremely versatile material. It is used, among other things, in steel and iron foundries, in the production of paints, stock feeds, building materials and as a lubricant for oil rigs.

Some 20-million years ago volcanic eruptions occurred in the Heidelberg vicinity, causing a fault in the Earth’s crust. Through the ages the volcanic residue was exposed to water and the atmosphere and gradually changed into bentonite.

Heidelberg

Heidelberg in the Western Cape (not to be confused with the Heidelberg located southeast of Johannesburg in Gauteng Province) was established in 1885 along the banks of the Duivenhoks River on the farm Doornboom, bought from Louis Fourie because of the need for a church between Riversdale and Swellendam. The town was named after its namesake in Germany where the Heidelberg Catechism was formulated. Part of that city’s municipal coat of arms is included in the Heidelberg town crest.

Heidelberg harbours a treasure of beautiful old buildings, telling tales of generations of inhabitants spanning almost two centuries ago.

Suurbraak

The original inhabitants of this area were known as the Attaqua Tribe of the Quena people. The town was developed as a mission station in 1812 by the London Missionary Society and was later taken over by the Algemene Sending mission of the Dutch Reformed Church. Community involvement in the church remains strong to this day.

Inhabitants of the village are still using horse-and-donkey-drawn ploughs, and almost every household has a cow for milk. Although there is electricity in the village, most people still use their wooden stoves, and fetch wood to fuel them in the forest alongside the river. A few households still have dung floors. Most people in the village own their own piece of land.

 

 

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South Africa - Western Cape

South Africa - Western Cape

The Xairu Blue Crane Route is one of four blue crane routes in the Western Cape. It is located in and around the town of Heidelberg, which is about 276km east of Cape Town on the N2 national road. Heidelberg is fondly known as the “gateway to the garden route”.

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Key Contacts

Name:
Louise Kluyts

Telephone: Click here
Mobile: Click here
Website: Click here

Tags

birding mountains arts-and-craft food escape

 

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