The history of Balie’s Gat starts when a surveyor by the name of Byley came across the deep and remote valley in the southern Cederberg in 1885. Over time the Afrikaans speaking families that settled on this patchwork of fertile farms referred to it as Balie’s Gat. After the Hanekom family originally owned the land, it was divided into two farms in 1915, one for Piet Esterhuysen and the other for Carel Nieuwoudt.
Around this time, one of Carel Nieuwoudt daughters married a Bothma, four generations later his great grandson Marius Bothma still farms here. The farmers have crops and fruit trees that keep them busy throughout the year. In the summer there are the oranges as well as peaches and pears, most of which are dried using traditional methods to retain their sweetness. Various pumpkins and squash are regularly planted, and a flock of dorper sheep roam in the fields.
The road to the valley runs through the farm Tandfontein on the plains of the Koue Bokkeveld and then precariously winds its way down to the valley floor. A track was originally built for ox-wagon in 1945. It took the farmers seven winters to build the road with pick and shovel until they had use of a drilling machine and dynamite. After it was widened, Johannes Kershoff was the first person to drive the road down in December 1950, and in 1951 it was opened for the public and named The Piet Esterhuysen Road.
Tourists are slowly discovering this epic road and the valley. Marius first started working on the campsite in 2002, and it was used by friends until finally in 2014 he opened it to the public. It is continually being upgraded and the next addition are two small log cabins that will be completed in late 2016. Next to a stream, and under some bluegum trees and in between large rocks, you are intimate with pristine nature.
There are spectacular walks up the many kloofs which few people have ever seen. You can enjoy homemade products made in the valley with passion and love by his mother. A visit to this valley will restore song in your heart and you’ll drive the long bumpy road out the valley with peace in your mind.