Arranged Tours and Activities

THE SWARTBERG CIRCLE ROUTE AND STARGAZING

(Must be booked separately before arrival)

Swartberg Mountain & Prince Albert Eco- and Khoi Cultural Tour (Full Day)

(UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Swartberg circular route via Prince Albert & Meiringspoort

From the Guesthouse we travel north towards the majestic Swartberg Mountains. From the Southern foothills, we start our ascend of nearly 900 meters up the Swartberg Mountains via the world-renowned Swartberg Pass. The Swartberg Pass, a National monument, has a gravel surface and was constructed by renowned road engineer, Thomas Bain over a 4-year period and opened on 10 January 1888. The dry-stone technique used to construct the pass required extreme manual labour and is as solid as it was when constructed 128 years ago.

08h00 - 08h30: Breakfast at LANDRANI®.
08h30 - 09h00: Transit from LANDRANI® to the Swartberg Mountains.
09h00 - 11h00: Guided Tour up the Swartberg Pass.
11h00 - 12h15: Optional leisure walk.
12h15 - 13h30: Descend the Swartberg Pass en-route to Prince Albert
13h30 - 14h30: Enjoy a light lunch.
14h30 - 15h15: Travel via the Northern foothills of the Swartberg Mountains en-route to Meiringspoort.
15h15 - 16h15: Visit the 60 m Waterfall at Meiringspoort
16h15 - 17h00: Return to LANDRANI® via the Klein-Karoo Town – "De Rust"

Get close to nature and explore the spectacular Sandstone formations dating back more than 300 million years. Feast your eyes on the full splendour of diverse “fynbos” species ranging from various Protea species as well as “cone bush” and “pin cushions”. You may even spot a soaring Verreaux Eagle or Jackal Buzzard while the agility of the “Klipspringer” (small antelope) over the rugged sandstone formations will astound you. At the summit (“Die Top”) of the Swartberg Pass, we enjoy a panoramic view over the Great-and-Klein Karoo.

You will also be able to enjoy an optional leisure walk before we descend the Swartberg Pass en-route to Prince Albert where we are treated to a light lunch. Departing from Prince Albert, you will be introduced to the arid Great Karoo landscape and its diverse succulents and karroid bush by skirting the northern slopes of the Swartberg Mountains, en- route to Meiringspoort. Time is spent at the 60-meter high waterfall in Meiringspoort, before snaking through the rest of the poort to the peaceful Little Karoo “Dorpie” – De Rust. From here we return to the Hotel / Guesthouse.

Introduction into the Attequa Khoi Culture

The H.O.P.E Foundation has also partnered with “Die Potskerf Indigenous and Heritage Research Centre” which was established in 2014 as the cultural-educational arm of the Attaqua Khoi Tribe within the Oudtshoorn and Kannaland area.

Oudtshoorn and Kannaland apart for being referred to as the Klein Karoo or the “small region of thirst,” is the ancient geographical tribal area of the Attaqua Khoi Tribe. There are a number of explanations for the term Kannaland which even includes a humoristic reference to the influx of the Jewish population during the boom period of the Ostrich Feather industry. An indigenous perspective on Kannaland refers to the succulent Sceletium plant – known as “Kanna” or “Ganna“. Certain parts of the plant were chewed for different ailments and then referred to as “kougoed”.

The Attaqua Khoi was one of the bigger tribes within the Cape and occupied the hunting plains between the Swartberg in the North, Outeniqua as the southern border and the Kammanasie-Tsjitsikamma in the East with the Langeberg as its Western borders. The nomadic lifestyle of the group connected it to the southern cape coast at places like George and Mossel Bay. Mission stations were established with names of Pacaltsdorp, Dysselsdorp, Zoar and Matjiesrivier. These places were established at kraals which were stock outposts of the Attaqua and Outeniqua tribes within the area of Kannaland.

The first colonists entering the Attaqua region were Isaac Schriver1686 and the adventures of the 1701 expedition. The first permanent stock farmers received loan farms from the colonial government during 1738 within the Cango Valley. The competition for the natural resources of Kannaland destroyed the indigenous people to such extent that there were no signs of any khoi kraals in 1838. Your guide will also share with you the medicinal attributes of the various Fynbos herbs which were orally transferred from generation to generation by the Khoi tribe.

Swartberg Mountain Eco-Tour & Lunch (Half-Day)

(UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Swartberg Eco- Excursion

From LANDRANI® we travel North to the Southern foothills of the Swartberg Mountains. From here we commence our 900-meter scenic eco-tour up the world-renowned Swartberg Pass. At the summit of the Swartberg Pass (1 580 meters above sea level), you will enjoy a scenic walk on this National monument.

09h00 - 09h45: Travel North towards the Swartberg Mountains from where we will commence our scenic eco-tour up the world renowned Swartberg Pass.
09h45 - 12h30: Scenic drive up the Swartberg Pass to the "Top" of the Pass before we enjoy an optional leisure hike on a Swartberg Mountain hiking trail.
09h00 - 11h00: Guided Tour up the Swartberg Pass.
13h00 - 14h00: Enjoy a light lunch.
14h00: Return to LANDRANI®.

The Pass has a gravel surface and was constructed by renowned road engineer, Thomas Bain over a 4-year period and opened on 10 January 1888. From the “top” of the Swartberg Pass, you will enjoy picture-perfect panoramic views over the Klein- and Great Karoo. The dry-stone technique used to construct the pass required extreme manual labour and is as solid as it was when constructed 127 years ago.

A qualified eco guide will accompany you on the optional scenic walk and introduce you to the spectacular Sandstone formations dating back more than 300 million years. Feasting your eyes on the full splendour of diverse “fynbos” species ranging from various protea species as well as “cone bush” and “pin cushions” will accentuate the need for conservation of our natural resources and habitats.

You may even spot a soaring Verreaux Eagle, Jackal Buzzard or any of the many species of Sunbirds feasting on the nectar of the proteas. The agility of the “Klipspringer” (small antelope) over the rugged sandstone formations will astound you.

The tranquillity and serenity of this unique experience reflects the essence of a bygone era where wagons and riders on horseback was a familiar sight.

At the summit (“Die Top”) of the Swartberg Pass, we descent down the Swartberg Pass towards the offices of the H.O.P.E. Foundation. Here we learn about the Social and conservation initiatives pioneered by the members of the H.O.P.E. Foundation. From you can enjoy a leisure scenic hike on a Swartberg Hiking trail enjoying the diverse fynbos and bird species endemic to this protected vegetational biome. The trails are of moderate-intensity and no formal hiking gear, apart from proper shoes, is required. At 1 350m above mean sea level, you will be treated to panoramic vistas over the northern slopes of the Swartberg Mountains (a UNESCO World Heritage Site).

After your hike we enjoy a light lunch before returning to your Hotel / Guest House in Oudtshoorn.

Stargazing : Explore the “High 5”

In the hands of skilled guides, with specialized telescopes, you will experience a life-changing and spell-bound one-hour “tour” through the Southern Hemisphere’s celestial “High 5”.

INTRODUCTION

City of Stars

It was once said that the only thing we know for sure about the universe is that there is an inside, nobody knows if there is an outside. Our cosmos is said to be approximately 15 000 – 20 000 million years old. Earth came into existence approximately 4 600 million years ago and underwent major changes since then. What observers and we can see today has evolved over many millions of years and is still changing by the minute. Our galaxy is commonly known as the Milky Way and is one of hundreds of millions of other galaxies that have been discovered over many years. Galaxies “normally” tend to group together and the Milky Way is one of a group of 30 galaxies.

The Milky Way has two satellite galaxies that can be seen with the naked eye from the Southern Hemisphere, known as the Large and the Small Magellan Clouds. The small cloud is 205 000 and the large cloud 170 000 light-years away. They each accommodate approximately 2 000 million and 10 000 million stars respectively. When conditions are very favourable another massive galaxy can be observed in the Northern Hemisphere. This galaxy is known as M31 or Andromeda and is 2 300 000 light-years away. This is also the furthest object to be seen anywhere with the naked eye. M31 is twice the size of the Milky Way and has twice as many stars, therefore M31 is considered the largest galaxy in the group of 30.

Our Galaxy and Solar System

Photo by: Craig Fouche Photography

The sun and its planets, also referred to as our solar system, lies near the edge the Milky Way. Our solar system consists of the sun and its eight classic planets that orbit the sun, with Mercury being the closest at 58 million km’s and Pluto the furthest at 5 900 million km from the sun. Planet earth – 150 million km’s from the sun – and its moon falls within the eight planets. The Milky Way that we are part of, can be clearly seen from the Little Karoo on a clear evening. Our galaxy is “flat” and has the shape of a disc with a hub in the middle from where spiral fingers stretch out to the edges. This is known as a spiral galaxy. To cross our galaxy from side to side will take you 100 000 light-years and at its hub, to travel from top to bottom a mere 20 000 light-years. The Sun and we are a mere 33 000 light-years from the hub. Our galaxy rotates around its hub once every 225 million years at a speed of 300km/second, this is known as a cosmic year, Earth rotates around the sun once every 365.25 days at a speed of 30 km/second. Earth “spins” at a speed of 1500 km/h around its own axis.

Einstein and light years

Einstein determined that nothing can travel at any speed greater than the speed of light. Light travels at 299 792 km/second. The distance that a light ray will travel through an air cavity in a year is known as a light-year. In a year light will travel 9 460 563 614 000km. while it takes a sunray only 8 minutes to reach earth and moonlight only 1 second. To put this into context we can imagine a trip to Alpha Centauri, our 2nd closest star neighbour at 4.23 light-years away. If we could travel at the speed of light, a trip to this star will take us approximately 10 years there and back. But the reality is that we cannot travel at such speeds, therefore, it will currently take us 23 000 years to reach Alpha Centauri….46 000 years return trip!

1. CONSTELLATIONS

Southern Cross

The Southern Cross is always visible at night in Southern Africa. It is the most prominent of the constellations to be seen. It always points to the south celestial pole and is used to determine south. Four stars are named after the Greek alphabet.

Orion

This constellation is also known as the “Hunter” and the “Red Giant” Betelgeuse is part of this constellation. It is one of the most prominent constellations and also visible in the Northern Hemisphere.

2. STARS

Sun

The Sun is by far the most important star, as well as our closest star neighbour. Without it life as we know it will not be possible. It outshines the brightest star we see at night by 10 000 million times because of its closeness. It has a diameter 100 x greater than that of the earth and it’s 300 000 x greater in mass. Its surface temperature is 6000ºC and at its core, the temperature is estimated to be some 15 million degrees Celsius.

Alpha Centauri

This star is our closest neighbouring solar system and is 4.23 light-years away. It’s a binary star with a third star – Alpha Proxima – two light months away and it takes them 80 years to orbit each other. Used as the “pointer stars” when determining south using the Southern Cross. 3rd brightest star visible.

Sirius

It is second to the Sun the brightest star that we can see and is 8.5 light-years away.

3. PLANETS

Earth

The earth is the only known planet to sustain life, in order for it to do so, it has enough liquid water and is not too far or to close to the Sun that is as important for life as we know it.

Venus

Venus is the brightest of all the planets with an extremely dense atmosphere. It has a surface temperature of 500°C due to its close proximity to the Sun. Is visible as both the “morning and evening star”.

Jupiter

It is described by some as “a star that didn’t make it”. It generated a great deal of heat inside and radiates much more heat than it receives. Its diameter is 11 x that of the earth and it is 300 x more massive.

Mercury

This planet is the smallest of the 8 main planets in our solar system. A day and a night on this planet will last for 6 of our calendar months.

Mars

This planet is on average as bright as Jupiter and also known as the “Red Planet”. It has two moons that are not visible because of their size. Its surface gravity is extremely low and it has a conical volcano – Montes Olympus – that is 3 x the height of Everest with a 500km base across.

4. GLOBULAR CLUSTERS

Omega Centauri

It is also referred to as the “King of Globular Clusters” and looks like a star. It is 18 000 light-years away, forms part of the Centaurus star group and contains approximately 1 million stars.

5. GALAXIES

Milky Way

Our galaxy looks like a flattened disc and is known as a spiral galaxy. It’s a 100 000 light-years wide and 20 000 light-years from top to bottom at the hub and it contains billions and billions of stars.

Magellanic Cloud

Large Magellanic Cloud – This “cloud” is 170 000 light-years away and 22 000 light-years wide and contains 10 000 million stars.

Small Magellanic Cloud – This “cloud” is 205 000 light-years away and 10 000 light-years wide and contains 2 000 million stars.

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