Agritourism is amazing

Venturing into the rural heartland of South Africa

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Tourists are looking for a unique experience in Africa that they have not had elsewhere. We have a story to tell and the world wants to hear it, see it and experience it through agritourism, which allows visitors to have experiential holidays with local farmers and rural communities.

Apart from the indigenous crops which provide tourists with educational food experiences, a tourist can explore the rich diversity of crops, livestock, game and natural agricultural environments that are unique in the world. More important are the people who farm and who live in these rural communities. In Africa there are over 3 000 tribes who speak a variety of dialects on a continent that covers 20% of the land area in the world. There are cultural and historical activities that are uniquely African.

So what type of farm experiences can you as a visitor choose from? There are game breeding farms, fynbos estates, mountain biking accommodation, abalone farms, hiking trails, working with the farmer as he goes about his daily activities, tilapia farming, living with the San, ostrich farming …. the list is endless as the variety of crops –from poultry, maize, indigenous cattle (Nguni), wheat, milk, deciduous fruit, vegetables, citrus, indigenous goats (Kalahari), sub-tropical fruit and indigenous sheep. And that is not even 18% of the variety of crops and animals that are farmed in Africa!

Agritourism on a working farm cannot be separated from the farmer. The farmer is part of the farm’s marketing brand. An example that immediately comes to mind is the Skeiding Guest Farm owned by Neels and Anne-Lize Uys.

Skeiding Farm is near Heidelberg in the Western Cape. Guests are involved as far as possible in the workings of the 1 200 hectare family farm, which include the following animals and crops: ostriches, merino sheep, Nguni cattle, canola, wheat, barley and peas. In other words, a variety of activities.

In their own words, “Neels is the farmer, socialiser, ‘braaier’ and farm tour guide, and Anne-Lize is the baker, jam maker and money taker.” Guests get up early to join Neels in his daily farming activities, then come back to have a farm breakfast cooked by Anne-Lize.

Neels grew up in that area, so he is a walking encyclopaedia of local information. Most of his visitors are from Europe and want to learn about ostriches. There are 15 different activities on the farm, apart from the farm tours and Anne-Lize has coordinated several itineraries for day trips so guests can explore the area. The farm is easy to find with the GPS coordinates and is well sign posted. It is ideal for families with children as they can actively exercise in a safe environment.

Other examples include the biodiversity paradise of Verlorenkloof with its pristine waterfalls on the farm. Educational day trips on farms can include participation in the various Agricultural routes for example, the Cederberg Heritage Route, the Rooibos Route and the Herold Meander Route—all offering unique experiences.

Jacqui Taylor, Founder & Managing Director, Agritourism South Africa

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