5 reasons to take baby to… Bartolomeus Klip, South Africa

Lake, Bartolomeus Klip

The scenery around Bartolomeus Klip is stunning; flat paths make for easy evening walks in the sun with baby and the lake is good for a dip.

To all new parents out there, I am about to give you the best advice I can; and it has nothing to do with nappies or crying or burping or feeding. No. If time and money allow, and I appreciate these are big ‘ifs’, waste no time in going to this place. The intriguingly-named Bartolomeus Klip (BK from now on, as it’s too long to keep typing) lies an hours’ drive outside Cape Town. We found it on i-escape and booked for 3 nights as part of a two-week trip round South Africa in late January 2009.

As I have said elsewhere, South Africa is a fantastic destination to go with your baby: no jet lag; overnight flights; good value, high quality accommodation; and lots of ‘adult’ things you wouldn’t dream of doing with a hyperactive toddler (winery visits, long lunches, mountain hikes, long beach walks…). And BK was possibly the highlight of a trip packed with highlights, to be described in another post (at the time, Leo was 10 months old and not walking).. So what made this place so good?

Wild Olive House

The spacious interior of Wild Olive House – you won’t want for a place to put your suitcase

1. You get your own house. The main farmhouse where the bedrooms are does not accept children; but that’s no problem, as those of us with offspring in tow get to stay in the fabulous Wild Olive House. This cute ‘cottage’ is anything but cottagey. What you get is a 3-bedroom, 2 bathroom bungalow with huge, shady terrace and a small, private swimming pool, great for splashing about in with baby. What’s nice is that you have at hand all the comforts and conveniences of a very stylish home (full kitchen, separate bedroom for the baby if you so wish), but none of the paranoia of disturbing other guests, nor chores of cleaning and washing up (daily maid service is standard). Which brings me on to…

Afternoon tea at Bartolmeus Klip

Afternoon tea, for 2+baby. We never managed to finish it, despite trying our best everyday

2. …the food. Oh my, the food. This is not a place to lose weight or even contemplate restraint. Although Wild Olive House is let on a self-catering basis, don’t even think about not paying the extra £35 (per person, per day) to get brunch, afternoon tea and a 3-course dinner delivered to your home. The spreads are incredible, but afternoon tea is stand-out: pastries, cakes, sandwiches, wraps, scones…all homemade in the kitchen that morning. Routinely, we stuffed the fridge with what we couldn’t eat but we never caught up with ourselves. By the time we even contemplated having a pick, the next meal would be delivered. If you fancy a change of scene, you can eat up in the restaurant at the main farmhouse one evening, which we enjoyed – a nanny (one of the trusted staff at BK) will look after baby for just a few rand.

Quagga, not zebra

The game reserve gives you the chance to spot Quagga, a horsey relation to the Zebra and bred specially at Bartolemeus Klip

Breakfast at Bartolmeus Klip

Breakfast is delivered to your house after the morning game drive. It’s an incredible spread.

3. The game. Included in your stay at Bartolomeus Klip are morning game drives. Before you get too excited, we’re not talking the Big 5 here. But it’s very cool, nonetheless. Do you know what a Quagga is? Neither did I until we went on our game drive; turns out it is a horse/Zebra hybrid and a very attractive thing. Quaggas aside, you’ll see bontebok, ostriches, wildebeest and rare geometric tortoises. And in season, it’s a twitchers paradise. The drives start around 7am (fairly civilised compared to these Masai Mara things) and last a couple of hours. You don’t need to worry about baby as a nanny can be arranged to get them breakfast and entertain them whilst you’re out. And best of all, as soon as you get in, you are delivered a mouth-watering spread – full fry up, breads, cakes, yoghurts, fruits. Oh hold on, I’m talking about food again. Wasn’t that reason 2…?

BIkes at Bartolmeus Klip

Leo went for his first ever bike ride at Bartolmeus Klip: bikes with baby seats are included

4. The serenity. You don’t come here for the nightlife. But let’s face it, with a baby, the only nightlife you’re getting is the 2am feed… The long, dusty track from the main road gives you a clue that this place is going to be quiet. The best way to explore the estate is by bike – they are free with your rental and baby seats are available. Be warned though, if you travel in high summer like we did, it gets hot – you need to be done with your cycling by mid-morning and retreat back to the house for some cooling off. I also remember ending up with a mouthful of flies which wasn’t particularly pleasant… but hate to complain! You could use BK as a base to explore the winelands, it’s about 30 mins drive from the main areas, but we never left the estate – with just 3 days there, we had no need to. Could we have spent longer? Yes, probably. We would have simply soaked up…

5. …the great outdoors. BK is a beautiful place to just to ‘be’. The mountains provide a stunning backdrop, but the estate itself is flat, making for easy walking with baby on your back. They provide you with circuits – a lovely one goes round the lake (which is good for a refreshing dip if you tire of the pool). Be warned though: the sense of isolation could be a little overwhelming for some urbanites! You won’t see another soul and the wind rustling through the trees can be almost eerie…

So there you have it. Happy baby but even happier mums and dads. Could you go with older children to BK? I would. I love it there and need no excuse to go back. (I actually recommended it to a friend looking for a wedding venue – they took my advice, booked it and have remained indebted to me ever since). It is worth saying though that for those of you with toddlers and older children, there probably isn’t a lot for them to do here and the simple pleasures of roaming about and swimming in the pool will begin to wane after a while. But as a restorative first stop after the long flight south, it can’t be beat.

Drive to Bartolomeus Klip

A long, dusty track leads down to Bartolomeus Klip, adding to the seclusion

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