Location, Location, Location
If you are a white buffalo calf, where would you ideally like to be?
When you are a truly outstanding individual, as our Snowflake certainly is, you have to strike a fine balance of being seen and not being seen. As we have seen in our last report, if your being carries some significant meaning for other earth dwellers, it is quite important that they get to spot you from time to time. Conversely, if you are also a bright signifier of food to predators from a distance, then you learn to hang out in the tall grass. Snowflake loves the tall grass.
For all these reasons, Khaya Hanci’s new Horse and Game Ranch is ideal. It’s a large parcel of land that allows for free and easy rumination, but also no lions. Good start. The ranch has some hilly bits and some flat bits. Uphill for pics, downhill for privacy. Then, being located where it is, it is just far enough off the beaten track to be immersed in nature, and yet not completely lost in the bush. All this in a bushveld-beautiful landscape that is also rich in historical legends.
The main geographical feature of the Leydsdorp/Gravelotte area is the Murchison range, a series of rolling ridges with sugarloaf-like peaks in places. The jut of the ridge provides access to a number of minerals, most prized of which is gold. Leydsdorp started off as a mining camp in the late 1800s, but fizzled out with the Witwatersrand gold rush of 1884. at which point it became a base for die-hard big game hunters, such as the erstwhile President of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republic (ZAR), Paul Kruger. The constitution dictated that the President could only sign official documents if within a city, and so Leydsdorp was declared as such in 1890, despite it not being one, nor ever becoming one.
Yet, the hotel has been trading on and off for more than a century, What remains constant is the area’s oldest living inhabitant, a near-2000 year old baobab tree, that has also once featured a bar (as one does), and the Leydsdorp cemetery. The cemetery, with its Victorian era tombstones is now a part of the ranch, and has been Uli’s quiet place for writing and reflection for years. In it are the silent records in stone of lives lived in the dimming past. In contrast to the silence of the cemetery, it is the hotel that is rumoured to be rambunctiously haunted (which partially explains its record of abandonment). There is no irony in this - considering the usual cast of a prospectors’ camp and the succeeding generation of derring-do big game hunters, it is to be expected that while the ghosts rest at the former - at the hotel they come alive.
So is this ideal for Snowflake? Beyond the serendipity of being born on a ranch that is protected by a couple of true nature and animal lovers (and some hardy ghosts), Nature has chosen a relatively safe landscape and a weirdly interesting place to make her appearance. Leydsdorp is far, but not “gone”. Hospitals and airports are less than an hour away, as are quality shopping and dining. The ranch is ideally located for Kruger day trips with easy access to two gates. Perfect to welcome visitors from near and far.
With its rich natural setting, the ranch is also perfect to just spend some time to reconnect with Nature. There are the few quirky distractions, such as the massive baobab and the antiquated “gold rush” vibe that will totally pop on your Instafeed - but nothing that will feel like an “itinerary”. Nothing that supersedes the “flow”. Snowflake’s home, Khaya Hanci Horse and Game Ranch, is exactly the kind of place where you really just want to be out on a horse or game vehicle, with an eye out for a white buffalo calf in the tall, tall grass.