The Karkloof has a long and rich history. Having once been on the main wagon trail linking Natal and the old Transvaal it is named for an overturned ox-wagon that became a landmark along the route in the mid-1800’s.
In modern times, local farmers, foresters and other landowners have joined hands to manage this beautiful piece of land in harmony with nature, establishing the Karkloof Conservancy in 1998.The conservancy covers an area of 40,000 hectares and protects wetlands, grasslands and natural forests and all manner of associated wildlife, including all three of South Africa’s endangered crane species, among a patchwork of scenic farmlands and plantations.
The farmers here pride themselves on their environmentally friendly farming practices and, realising the need for and value in greater public awareness of the work of the Karkloof Conservancy, a centre dedicated to the message of conservation, education and tourism was created and officially opened in October 2007. The Karkloof Conservation Centre is located at the entrance to Gartmore Farm, 15km to the north of Howick in the Natal Midlands. Gartmore and neighbouring Loskop are working dairy farms and here, among the beautiful green pastures, two bird-viewing hides overlook natural wetlands frequented by over 180 bird species (including the blue, crowned and wattled cranes) and a variety of naturally occurring small game animals. A small picnic site is available at the entrance, from where it is a short walk along a tree-lined path to the two hides.
Even a short visit to the Karkloof Conservation Centre will have you excited in the realisation that humans and nature can co-exist to the benefit of both, and perhaps you will be lucky, as we have, to get a glimpse of some of South Africa’s rarest birds as a bonus.