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Fair Trade Tourism: Soekershof Walkabout in Klaas Voogds West

Fair Trade accreditation of off-beat destination

Robertson (Western Cape, South Africa) Soekershof Walkabout became the 15th tourism destination in SA with the trademark of the Fair Trade in Tourism.

For broad-minded personalities always in search of the unusual, there is Soekershof Walkabout in Klaas Voogds West between Robertson and Ashton. 'Weird but Passionate' hosts; great stories; a wealth of plantlife; the worlds' largest hedge-maze; time-travel with Albert Einstein; a stone-age cinema; the New South African Handshake; philosophers garden and, of course, the highly acclaimed succulent gardens with more than 2400 different species from all over the world in the unprotected open air. Visitors can earn a memorable reward by fullfilling a quest in the Klaas Voogds Maze.

A plethora of fantastic South African history, artistic creativity and botanical delights await the adventuresome traveler at Soekershof Walkabout.

In 2000 the Dutch couple Yvonne de Wit & Herman van Bon acquired the farm Soekershof in the historic Klaas Voogds region between Robertson and Ashton. The farm had been neglected for 24 years. The initial intent was to clean and restore the premises but fate had other ideas. The Soekershof concept came about during a week of happy discoveries and fascinating local folklore.

The historical, weed-overgrown, succulent garden was created in 1965 by Marthinus Malherbe (pioneer of the South African cactustrade and founder of the cactus nursery next-door) and reviewed as "the most beautiful succulent garden in the Southern Hemisphere" (Royal British Horticultural Society, 1971).

Soekershof is Afrikaans for "Seekers Court" and it seemed logical to create a landscape of mazes.

The 13870 m2 Klaas Voogds Maze incorporates a 260 m classical 5-circuit Cacti-Labyrinth.

The Klaas Voogds Maze is not a Maze in the traditional perception. This Maze is as life; you walk from one story into another. The objects towering above the hedges serve as orientating points and as a reliquary of amusing local history and fables. You are invited to fulfill a quest and earn a memorable reward.

Other Mazes on the farm include the Butterfly Maze and the unique indigenous Langeberg Maze, which is still under construction.

The original succulent garden has been restored and extended. It now consists of over 2400 different succulents including cacti and other exotics that are kept in the unprotected open air, unlike nurseries with most of their collection under a roof or a shade-net. In 2005 the American Horticultural society recognised the garden as one of the finest collections of specimen plants worldwide. Visitors may have a peep into the wonderful world of camouflage, self defense mechanisms and survival strategies. Follow the trail and discover plants like horse's teeth, baba-boudjies, elephant's feet and lots more.

The Visitors Centre contains exclusive handcrafted gifts by local artists. In this tatched cottage there is also a photo-and video-presentation of the developments from April 2000 onwards.

"Our little nursery" sells waterwise plants with landscaping and consultancy available.

Other options include a Full Moon Walk and Corporate Teambuilding (for pre-booked groups of at least 10 participants). Group visits can be customized.

To experience Soekershof in full: take your time and relax!!!

On request light homemade meals are served (only for visitors). Visitors are invited to bring their own picnic.

The website http://soekershof.com contains a wealth of information including various accommodation details, information on other local activities and numerous links to Maze/Labyrinth and succulent related websites.

A visit to Soekershof is hard to describe for it is a very personal experience as can be found out in the 'love-letter' section of the Soekershof website (http://soekershof.com). See also the chapter 'The CIA and other media-exposures'.

In short: The place where Klaas Voogds, James Bond and Albert Einstein meet...

And: everything you always wanted to know about sex... between plants but never dared to ask.

A visit takes at least 1.5 to 2 hrs. Real visitors stay at least 3 to 4 hours!

Visit our website at http://soekershof.com for directions and 'What visitors can expect'.


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