Bushmans Kloof

Useful Information

Location: Clanwilliam 8135.
Bushmans Kloof.
(-32.116347, 19.107553)
Open: All year daily.
Fee: Cave visits free for hotel guests.
Classification: ArchaeologyAbri
Light: n/a.
Guided tours:  
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Bushmans Kloof Lodge, P O Box 267, Clanwilliam 8135, Western Cape, Tel: +27-27-482-8200, Fax: +27-27-482-1011. E-mail: contact
Reservations, Tel: +27-87-743-2399. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.



The Bushmans Kloof Lodge is a wilderness reserve and wellness retreat. The hotel is located in a remote valley which once was home to seven farms. In 1991 Bill and Mark McAdam purchased all seven farms and created a nature reserve. Farming was stopped, foreign animals and plants removed, and the natural bushland called fynbos got time to recover. One farm with a manor house was restored and transformed into an eco lodge. It has been voted as one of the Top 25 Eco Lodges in the world by the US Travel and Leisure magazine in 2004. And it received numerous other awards since then.

One of the activities which are offered to hotel guests is a guided walk to the caves on the ground. Shelters or abris, which were used by the San or bushman tribes to create artworks. Those small, nomadic people lived here before the white settlers arrived. And on the grounds of Bushmans Kloof they left a heritage of 130 rock art sites, which makes it one of the most densely painted rock art areas in South Africa.

At Bleeding Nose Shelter the paintings were made using blue and red colours, and they have a good contrast against the white sandstone. So the paintings are easy to see. They show eland, small antelope, birds, and humans. Pictures of birds are rare, so the birds here are rather extraordinary. The humans are shown standing, dancing and shooting with bows. The site was named after a painting of a man with blood pouring from his nose. The figure is connected to other figures with lines. It is interpreted as a shaman in trance who is connected to his companions by mystical lines of power. The whole site is interpreted as a ceremonial site.

Fallen Rock Shelter is a tectonic cave, a huge rock slab which fell and thus formed a huge shelter. The paintings here are one of the largest collections of images known in the entire Pakhuis region. The paintings are also well-preserved. The cave sediment in the cave is not excavated, but some accidental discoveries suggest that there are remains of Bushman occupants like ash and grass. Most likely this was a dwelling site, a place were the tribes lived for some time on their travels.

Sonya's Cave was created by wind erosion which formed ledges of sandstone. There are numerous tall, elongated, male figures painted red. Giraffes and antelopes are depicted nearby using black colour.

The lodge has its own museum called the Bushmans Kloof Heritage Centre which was created by the celebrated anthropologist, Jalmar Rudner (*1917-✝2003). Jalmar Rudner, born in Sweden, was a town planner by profession. His true passion was anthropology and ethnography, though. He spent over five decades of research and fieldwork together with his wife Ione, all over southern Africa, to study and record the rock art. The museum is actually his personal collection, the artifacts and documentation he collected in his life. Its collections include original San jewellery, hunting equipment, dancing sticks and musical instruments. The exhibits are completed by photographs and informative texts. The curator and rock art guide is available to guide guests through the Centre.

Visits to the cave art sites are offered daily, guests are accompanied by trained guides. The guides explain the pictures, the culture of the San, how the colours were created using natural pigments like ochre, animal blood and plant juices. So while the caves are not exactly what one would call a cave, they definitely accomplish the definition of a show cave. There is no possibility to go there and see the caves though, it always requires an overnight stay at the lodge, as the museum and the caves are open only to guests. This is actually not a true restriction, the visit takes a day and the location is quite remote, so actually two overnight stays are quite the minimum.