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Break Free from the Treadmill - Farm 215 Nature Reserve and Retreat 
A bustling city life filled with errands, meetings and activities keeps you swooped up in the realms of the rat race, running the treadmill to keep abreast of your daily calendar. Every now and then it is imperative to allow your mind and soul to unwind, relax and take a breathe of fresh air before you run yourself down with exhaustion and stress. There is a nature retreat I can recommend to you that offers the tranquillity, peace and natural beauty that will revive your soul.


Farm 215 Fynbos Reserve and Nature Retreat

Situated in the sleepy southern Overberg near a one-horse town called Baardskeerdersbos, two and half hours drive out of Cape Town and off the beaten track, Farm 215 Fynbos Reserve and Nature Retreat offers a unique experience. The three beautifully appointed spacious suites with large glass sliding doors opening onto their own private wooden decks look out over the valley below. A sense of space and tranquillity is almost over-whelming. I struggled to put my finger on why I felt so different here as apposed to other nature retreats I had been to. This place grew on me. The more time I spent here the more I felt its grasp.


Farm 215 Fynbos Reserve and Nature Retreat - Swimming pool

The interesting personalities of Maarten and Henkie who own and run the farm exude a relaxed comfortable friendly manner that may have something to do with it. Your suite is your space and nobody interjects with that. The time spent on the farm is your time to do as you please. The 800-hectare reserve offers hikes into the mountains. I disappeared for a 2-hour hike in the late afternoon and was accompanied by a low lying mist and the sounds of hundreds of little frogs, a sure sign of the approaching rain. Various fynbos species were flowering and I was engrossed in their beauty. The peace and solitude prevailed.


Farm 215 Fynbos Reserve and Nature Retreat - suites

Our Cape Fynbos has become very special to me. Funny enough I remember when I first moved to Cape Town from Wilderness on the Garden Route many years ago, my impression of the fynbos vegetation was that it was rough, rugged and unattractive (I was brought up on a farm surrounded by beautiful green indigenous forest). This of course was until I took a closer look and realised its uniqueness. Did you know that the flora of the Cape Region of South Africa is so unusual that it is regarded as one of the world's six floral kingdoms? In an area of just 90 000 km2 there are an estimated 9000 species of plants. Of these an amazing 69% are found nowhere else on earth. Can you imagine that? Lets put this into perspective, the British Isles, three and a half times larger, have only 1500 plants, fewer than 20 of which are endemic.


Farm 215 Fynbos Reserve and Nature Retreat - Iridaceae Gladiolus

The Southern Overberg, home of Farm 215 Fynbos Reserve and Nature Retreat, has a flora of an estimated number of 2500 species, of which 300 are endemic. Over 700 species are represented on Farm 215 Fynbos Reserve and Nature Retreat! Both Maarten and Henkie have an incredible knowledge of the fauna and flora of their reserve. I grabbed some time with them over a delicious dinner prepared by Henkie and some cold Millers Draughts to delve into the intricacies of Farm 215 and the southern Overberg.


Farm 215 Fynbos Reserve and Nature Retreat - Common sugarbush

There is another aspect of Farm 215, which I found very attractive. Besides the rehabilitation of natural plant species taking place on the reserve, the suites are solar powered to provide hot water and electricity, wasted water is filtered through sand banks and directed back to the streams, no damaging chemicals are used in cleaning products and all waste is separated. Glass, plastic, paper products and cans are recycled and biodegradable matter is recycled by the poultry. Theses are commendable efforts towards sustainable tourism, a conscious effort towards having the lowest possible impact on the environment. Both Maarten and Henkie are very keen nature lovers and this shows in many aspects on the reserve. Farm 215 has won two Imvelo Awards for Responsible Tourism, one for Best Overall Environmental Management System and the other for Best Single Resource Management Program for Water.

All in all, a worthwhile experience I would recommend to anyone looking for a peaceful retreat.

Happy travels

Ciao
Claire

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