Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM lens at 32mm.

ISO 100. 1/320 sec at f/8. Aperture priority exposure mode.

We had been looking to get away for a few days for a complete breakaway from the harsh times of the national Covid-19 lockdown. After searching the Perfect Hideaways® website we discovered the farm guesthouse called 22° East. This superb establishment is just one and a half hours from our hometown of George. It is situated near the community of Klaarstroom in the area at the northern exit of Meiringspoort in the foothills of the Swartberg mountains. What a delightful place it turned out to be. The house is a perfectly restored old original farmhouse with all the modern conveniences. What made it so special was that the owner-architect had preserved much of the original characteristics of an Old Karoo farmhouse.

Canon EOS R5 with an RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM lens at 17mm

ISO 100. 1/200 sec at f/8. Aperture priority exposure mode. EC = -1EV.

This is not a travel blog but rather a photographic one, but I must say how comfortable the house was and also how helpful the manager, Pieter, was. The farm did provide some great photographic opportunities with an excellent  4×4 drive up to the top of the mountains, some really good spots for astrophotography, dramatic scenery and a pond in front of the house that was teeming with weavers and bishops in the reeds. We also saw Blue Cranes and many other notable species of birds.

Canon EOS 1DX Mark II with Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens + 1.4x converter

ISO 800. 1/1250 sec at f/5.6. Manual exposure

Canon EOS 1DX Mark II with a Canon 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens + 1.4x converter

ISO 800. 1/320 sec at f/5.6. Manual exposure.

We had an adventurous trip up to the top of the mountain on the northern side of the farmhouse. It was a steep climb that was easily handled in  4WD. The views from there were spectacular on all sides, particularly the Swartberg range on the southern side with its characteristic fold formations of Table Mountain sandstone as seen in the featured image at the top of the page.  It was interesting to walk around up there and see the abundant  flora and also the micro detail of the rock formations.

The image above shows the detail within the rock formations. You can begin to understand how rocks over the millenia slowly break up and erode due to temperature variations and wind and rain erosion.

The image on the left was just one of the wild flowers in bloom. The real exotic flora was the very small flowers and plants emerging out of the rocky terrain. I did not have a macro lens with me to capture the detail of these very pretty flowers.

22° East is a working farm and it was interesting to see the sheep and the harvesting of the fodder. There seemed to be a fair amount of water in what looks like a very arid region. 

 There were also springbok and gemsbok grazing near the farmhouse. In the evenings they would come nearer to the homestead to graze at a feeding trough and drink water. It all just added to the atmosphere whilst sipping sundowners.

During one afternoon, after having driven up the mountain in the morning, a very strong wind started to blow and some rain clouds built up some 5 kms to the west resulting in an unusual phenomenon. Looking east as the sun was getting lower in the western sky a rainbow appeared against an absolutely clear blue sky. What seemed to have happened is that moisture from the rain clouds had been blown from the west to the east by the very fierce wind – creating a stunning rainbow. It just looked weird to be looking at a rainbow with no visible clouds or rain. In spite of the very strong wind, I ventured outdoors and captured the image shown below.



The location provided a very good opportunity to capture the starry sky during the night. During the day I had looked for an easily accessible place away from any lights from the farmhouse or neighbouring farms. I would  have preferred to have driven up the mountain to  some of the places I had seen when we were up there. However, the best time to capture the Milky Way was at about 03:00 am. Was not that keen to go up the mountain on my own, either in the late evening and then spend the hours up there until 03:00 am or drive up the steep rocky gradient later in the dark. Unfortunately it was also not a good time to photograph the core area of the Milky Way as it was just rising at about 04:00 am and the sunrise was shortly after that. I do want to go back in the winter months when the Milky Way is in a much better position in the sky – it will be very cold though!

Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM lens at 15mm. ISO 3200. 20 sec at f/2.8. Exposure set manually.

There were certainly dark skies and in both images the core of the Milky Way is just appearing 0n the south eastern horizon. The Large and Small Magellanic clouds can be clearly seen.These two images were taken at 03:55am and at 04:01 am at different locations on consecutive  nights.


Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM lens at 15mm. ISO 3200. 20 sec at f/2.8. Exposure set manually.