Landscape photography in the Klein Karoo

On our way to Oudtshoorn from Cape Town, we stayed one night in Wildehondekloof Private Game Reserve. We had never been to the Klein Karoo (only the Greater Karoo), and the drive is already an adventure. Roads are in good conditions and as we meandered past Worcester, crossed the Langeberg at Montegu, the traffic got less, and the space between towns got larger. It is quite a long drive, but an easy one if you can change driver every now and then. The landscape is mostly dry as one would expect in this part of South Africa, and over the past years it got dryer and dryer.

At the foot of the Swartberg mountains

Wildehondekloof is just south of the Swartberg mountain range, and although arid there is a lot more vegetation and a little stream that passes next to the lodge. Wildehondekloof means literally ‘gorge of the wild dogs’. There are no wild dogs in this area currently, but maybe there were in a distant past. The lodge has 12 rooms and a restaurant for its guests and there are often nyala walking (and nibbling) on the lawn.

The main building of the Wildehondekloof lodge with the restaurant and part of the rooms
Nyala female on the lawn of the lodge. The green grass is too big a temptation to ignore

Landscapes in the reserve

We had an afternoon game drive and we were fortunate enough to be the only ones. This gave me the opportunity to ask the ranger to stop frequently whenever I wanted to take a photo. There are quite a few antelopes on the reserve, but they stay quite far from the roads and move further away still. Not ideally for wildlife photography, but these animals are beautiful just to look at without taking photos.

The reserve was part of an ostrich farm in the past before it was abandoned and eventually converted in a game reserve. There are still some alien trees like willow and oleander. These trees will slowly be removed, but that’s easier said than done.

The willow is not an indigenous tree, but the antelopes love eating its leafs. You can exactly see how high they can reach

To my surprise the landscapes in this reserve are stunning. It is comprised of hills and rocks and from many places you can see the Swartberg range in the distance. There were many places where we stopped for some photos. The hills make for beautiful compositions, especially with the low light at the end of the afternoon. Some parts were damaged by wildfire, but the new vegetation was already trying to repair the damage. This is all part of a natural cycle.

This shrub grew straight from the rocks. The mountains in the background are the Swartberg

In many places you can see the layers in the rocks, which create amazing patterns. There has been a lot of twisting and turning in this part of the earth and the layers in these rocks show that even rock can bend. There is a very peaceful energy here and when the motor of the 4×4 is turned off, you can only hear the wind.

Look at the layers in the rocks. I can’t imagine the energy and time it has taken to turn these layers vertical as they are now

Once the sun dropped behind the mountains it turns even more silent and the sky turned an orange/pink colour. There are many huge aloe plants growing here and they provide a beautiful focal point.

This aloe was taller than me (and I’m close to 2 meters tall) The ‘smoke’ is the dust settling after we had stopped the vehicle.

Hidden gem

As you can see there is so much to see and photograph in the Klein Karoo. This area of South Africa is really beautiful and if you’re looking for silence and dark skies, this is the right place. It can get very hot in summer and quite cold in winter. This is an area of extremes, but with such beautiful landscapes! And meerkats of which we told you here. We will be back, and if you would like to visit and photograph this area with us, drop us a line. This could be an extension to your tour in Cape Town. We are happy to organize something with you.

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