Our story

The Cederkloof Botanical Retreat forms part of a working farm 8km from Citrusdal, a quiet and tranquil space set in a beautiful valley abutting a wilderness area. Part of the landscape is still wild and opens to numerous views with beautiful rock formations from where you can watch stunning moon rises and have the stars put on a show just for you. The retreat is situated in a wide valley between striking mountains, providing an excellent opportunity to explore the mountainside on the 4km hiking trail with its weird rock formations covered in lichen and more than 850 fynbos species that attracts hundreds of bird species.

The farm

Cederkloof Retreat is on a 270ha farm stretching towards the banks of the Elephant River. Sections of the farm are protected wilderness areas – mainly in the rocky hills and along the river banks.

To tell the story of Cederkloof Farm is to tell the story of South Africa and the world at the beginning of the 21st century. It speaks of excess, destruction, hope and redemption. The arable land was first destroyed by conventional wheat farming and then, in 2004, more than 100ha of topsoil was removed to make way for a planned golf course. The ruined land was so scarred – the eroded top soil left no hope for the return of the fynbos, for one – that a completely new future had to be conceived when the farm changed hands.

We, the new owners, have a simple definition of prosperity: ‘To restore the land to life and productivity by way of sound business and biological practices’. Therefore none of the options to utilise the land – different types of agriculture, for example, or building an ‘adventure’ course or selling the land to adjoining commercial citrus farmers (citrus) – were satisfactory.

We opted to take matters into our own hands instead. To increase and restore the fertility of the soil, we decided in 2017 to plant organic rooibos tea, an indigenous and nitrogen-fixing crop, that we can grow without the need for irrigation. Rooibos tea is one of South Africa’s most valuable indigenous crops, and the Cederberg area is the only area in the world where this highly nutritious and medicinal plant is grown. Rooibos tea is venerated worldwide for its remarkable qualities – Chinese and Japanese authors sing its praises, and you can buy it in tea shops the world over (it’s sometimes labelled African Red Tea). Our tea will be available for sale as soon as our crops have reached maturity.

In addition to rooibos, we are also experimenting with organic dry-land legumes and essential oil crops.

 

Here at the farm, we want to tell a comprehensive story, one that intensifies your experience of the Cederkloof retreat space, but that is all-encompassing. It points a way to a collectively envisioned future of functional communities and integral harmony. A place where land ownership, community, nature and development don’t compete with one another for survival.

Our name and logo – from Elephant Leisure to Cederkloof

Elephant Leisure was the name given by its previous owner. The name relates to the Elephant River and its valley. As new owners, we relate more to the mountains, the plants and our commitment to get the Clanwilliam cedar trees re-established.  The Cederberg itself owes its name to the Clanwilliam cedar (Widdringtonia cedarbergensis), which today is on the verge of extinction after decades of ruthless harvesting for its fragrant timber. One of our first projects as new owners of Cederkloof was the restoration of these majestic trees: finding and planting saplings at every opportunity. It was after the first day of planting cedar saplings that the name Cederkloof presented itself.

Our endeavour is to restore the land, to restore its people and to protect the animals that freely roam through the property. Hence the name Cederkloof Botanical Retreat – a place of restoration.

We asked our friend Johan Walters, to develop a logo and visual identity based on our philosophy, and this he did brilliantly. Here’s how he captured the structure of the cedar cone, the fynbos and the kloof above the units in a single, simple and powerful graphic. In Johan’s own words:

The new Cederkloof identity draws inspiration from the the natural beauty of the surrounding area. The simple and honest design is expressive of our values as well as our strong connection with the outdoors. At the heart of our new identity is the carefully crafted Cederkloof symbol. The angular line work resembles the distinct edges found on the leaves of the local fynbos while the diagonals represent the kloof after which the retreat is named. The gentle lower curve of the symbol embodies a flower bud and also the   shape of a cedar cone. Our new typeface is traditional in feeling yet modern in shape, unembellished and truthful in its appearance. We have also introduced a subtle colour palette that echoes the natural hues found in the fynbos, shrubs and trees that grow on the retreat. Our landscape speaks of tranquility, restoration and growth, which are the very principles on which our new identity has been designed. 

We would like to enable each guest to connect to the surrounding landscape. We care deeply that you experience a true sense of discovery and amazement in the face of nature’s exquisite complexity. We want to be a place of restoration: for plants, people, animals and all aspects of this vast ecosystem.

We love simple things made well – like bread and wine. There is always something happening – whether we’re building grey-water systems or tending the gardens. A tractor from our farmer neighbours may pass your cottage as they go further up in the kloof to check water lines. You may meet fellow guests up in the mountain on one of our trails.

All of this is who we are and we invite you along for the journey.