Deep in the Sneeuberg mountains, less than 10km from the village of Nieu-Bethesda, is a classic Karoo farmstay called Ganora.
“Give us one day and we will give you 250-million years” is their slogan, and owners JP and Hester Steynberg really mean it. Ganora lies in the middle of pre-dinosaur fossil country. The Wilge River flows through the farm, and it is on the flanks of this river that one finds the fossil-rich mudstone.
Take a stroll through the farm museum, where pride of place is taken up by Kompasia delaharpi, the only complete fossil fish of this kind in the world.
There is fine detail in the scales – in fact, nature has preserved it so well in rock that it resembles something fine and edible, like, say, a smoked Dullstroom trout.
JP Steynberg, when he’s not farming, takes visitors on walks around the veld to view various fossil spots he’s identified over the years. Hester, on the other hand, will also set aside farmstead work and guide her guests across to cave overhangs sporting some of the most well-preserved San Bushman rock art in the district.
What I really dig about Ganora is waking up in comfort, safety and a degree of escapist bliss in one of their rooms. Karoo farmstays are becoming all the rage these days, because urban dwellers and foreign visitors are looking for wide open spaces, peace and the rhythm of a farming family adding to the national food grid.
Their children experience a working Karoo farm, which has many elements they simply would not find anywhere else – especially back home in the city.
Their parents can hive away and have time to themselves. And, importantly, there are no shopping malls or other distractions that make a family holiday a very expensive outing.
Ganora, like most Karoo farms, has a “junkyard” full of interesting old agri-remnants. The farmer will tell you his junkyard is “the spares department”. Photographers love to play here.
Equally photogenic are the local landscapes, loomed over by the pre-eminent Compassberg, a Matterhorn-shaped mountain in the distance.
Another great thing about Ganora, besides the wonderful farm food and warmth of your hosts, is that a day trip to Nieu-Bethesda is within spitting distance. But more on that in another Karoo blog….
Telephone: +27 (0) 49 841 1302 or +27 (0) 82 698 0029; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org