Talking Touwsberg: Owner Dr Freddie la Grange tells us what you need to know
Touwsberg Nature Reserve has been receiving a lot of press since it’s big decision to sell property to nature lovers. What gets us excited as travelers, are the possibilities. As a destination, Touws ticks off all the right tick boxes for a memorable adventure – and it’s untouched.
The future looks exciting and it’s a place we wouldn’t mind sending our guests to. Question is what are Touwsberg’s plans exactly? I sat down for a coffee moment with Ladismith born and head of Touwsberg, Doctor Freddie la Grange, to ask him more.
Hello Freddie, welcome to Safari365. Let’s talk Touws. How’s the spring weather treating the reserve it must be beautiful at the moment?
The reserve is looking at its personal best this time of the year. We had a superb rainfall during 2015, the vegetation is lush and the wild flowers are very wide spread. The temperatures are also moderate and it’s getting a tad warmer. It’s a pleasure to go for a walk, bike ride or a drive. The animals roam and graze with anticipation amongst the green shrubbery, grass and beautiful flower beds.
You come from a very interesting background. What is the history of Touwsberg and when did you decide to open your gates to the public?
I grew up on a farm in this area. Years later I had the fortune of owning some land around here. My wife, Ingrid and I decided at the end of my academic career to return to my hinterland and share a dream of turning it into a paradise where people can enjoy nature, rest and recuperate, de-stress and experience a prototype of the Garden of Eden.
Touwsberg is perfectly located on the meandering Route 62. Do you think that Little Karoo is set to be the next big SA attraction?
The Karoo is being called the honey pot of the property market. The Little Karoo region has been identified as one of the worlds "hottest" spots of biodiversity and that is something to be proud of…
In comparison to Kruger, the Karoo has a bit more cult status than world fame. What are your personal Route 62 favorites?
The best attraction is the people that live here, colorful and rich in character – true salt of the earth. When exploring I enjoy Oudtshoorn, home to the Cango Caves, some amazing ostrich farms and the annual art festival known as the KKNK; Seweweekspoort near Ladismith; the spas at Warmwaterberg, Calitzdorp and Montague; the breathtaking Tradouw pass and of course Touwsberg Private Game and Nature Reserve. .
Touwsberg is a Botanists dream with all the fynbos on offer. Do you have any endemic species of fynbos in Touwsberg?
This area is not called the Succulent Karoo for nothing and it has one of the richest concentrations of succulent plants in the world. The unique biodiversity of the Fynbos and Succulent Karoo Biomes that support ecological pattern and process is our pride.
And on that note, Touws is also a proud member of the Cape Floral Kingdom – the smallest yet most diverse in the world. What are your favorite fynbos species in Touwsberg?
By far the Protea Venustra – this particular species is found up high in the Swartberg Mountains and it takes some effort to get a hold of it.
Could you tell us more about the Ganna bush, it seems to dominate the reserve.
[Renowned botanists] Doctors Jan and Annelize Vlok explained that the best characteristic of the Ganna bush is its patience. They literally prepare themselves for the adverse dry conditions and grow in ditches where they wait for the storm water to pass.
The 7000 ha land boast a variety of wild. Do you have any bee hives on the reserve?
Bees stay in natural holes on the reserve. We don’t keep them in artificial hives.
Personally we’re very happy to know that you’re a green minded man. Your website mention’s Touwsberg is eco-friendly. What exact efforts have been put in place?
The whole point of an eco environment is to bring into balance the preservation and conservation of nature’s resources whilst still being able to enjoy fully what our surroundings have to offer. The residents of Touwsberg Reserve make use of solar power and wind turbines to generate electricity, and have built their houses in styles that complement their surroundings. And like the like the Ganna bush, water is treated as a special commodity. We don’t waste.
Starting up a nature reserve comes with trials and tribulations. What is the biggest challenge?
The preservation of biodiversity of the variety of beautiful and interesting species nature offers us, and the stability of our ecosystem which is an environmental challenge – then matching resources with expectations which is the economical challenge. The toughest is to keep putting this dream into practise and getting people and stake holders behind your idea.
We are so excited about Touwsberg’s decision to sell private property to nature lovers. What influenced your decision to do this?
The Karoo captivates one’s heart to such a degree that it is hard to break away from it once you’ve spent time here and I found that it was not only natives to the Karoo who felt this way. People from all over have a yearning to either own land or be in a space where they could experience the harmony between man and beast without fear of interruption or having the physical responsibility to take care of it on a day to day basis. So at the end of 2006 my wife, Ingrid, and I decided to start Touwsberg as a vehicle to make these dreams true.
Doctor Freddie, what an honor it has been. To close off, what can travel lovers and Touws fans look forward to in 2016?
At Touwsberg we are constantly improving on giving better and better service to our shareholders and visitors and we hope to make it a space where people just want to come back for more all the time.