World Environment Day takes place on Wednesday 5 June, encouraging a global commitment to maintaining a green environment. This year’s theme is a call to promote clean air, and if you’re wanting to support the cause, start by filling your lungs with some of the country’s purest O² at Fancourt Estate.
Aside from the sheer serenity, what really stands out at this landmark property is just how pure the air is. And it’s no wonder. Located in leafy George, and featuring three pristine golf courses — most notably, The Links, voted as the best course in South Africa — this is as green as you can get.
It’s all about the greens
Chris Gomersall, Grounds and Gardens Manager at Fancourt, attributes the clean air quality to the area’s prevailing southeast and southwesterly winds, which come off the ocean. In truth, one could argue it’s because this expert horticulturist and his team take such great care of Fancourt’s most important residents— the plants and trees.
“We have a huge variety of plant species, which, in my opinion, is botanical-garden status. We have old exotic trees and a plant collection dating back to the 1800s, newly planted local indigenous trees and fynbos on the course,” he adds.
Gomersall has been instrumental in a project to plant indigenous trees on the estate and spearheads a successful alien invader species removal project.
“We have been mindful about encouraging indigenous plants and appropriate exotics suitable to the George area to save on water and grow with ease and little attention,” he says. “At the same time, we have an invasive alien clearing and rehabilitation clearing plan in place which is returning our river systems to local riverine vegetation biomes.”
He has also assisted The Links at Fancourt to achieve global standards of environmental best practice that have seen it certified by the world-renowned Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary programme. Being just one of only two golf courses in South Africa and 905 in the world to achieve this benchmark of sustainability.
As Gomersall further explains, generally, the estate “does not use insecticides, or fungicides in our gardens,” but rather “only compost and organic fertilizers, as well as growing fresh herbs in our gardens for our hotel outlets.” He also confirms that the grounds team is currently busy establishing a 2,4km botanical walk.
Exploring the estate’s ecosystem
While Fancourt’s greenery works to clean the air, absorb CO² and filter pollutants, it has also attracted a wide range of small mammals who have safely made a home for themselves on the estate.
The current list includes caracal (lynx), African clawless otters, grysbok, common duiker, bushbuck, vervet monkeys, large grey mongoose, three tortoise species, snakes and bats. Cape and spotted eagle owls can be seen in the evenings and early mornings when the air is most crisp, while long-crested eagles, lanner falcons, forest buzzards, jackal buzzards, pale chanting goshawks and black-shouldered kites prove lucky sightings on the grounds and along Fancourt’s walking trails.
These well-marked routes of 2.5, 5 and 10km, are worth a mention for those looking to move with the pace of nature on World Environment Day. If you’re up for a peddle, head off on a bike from Fancourt’s Leisure Centre and you’ll soon find yourself meandering through groves of trees, green fairways and leafy lanes while feeling very much connected to the estate’s ecosystem.
Gomersall admits that it’s difficult for him to name his favourite foliage for guests to experience at Fancourt, but pinpoints the full-leafed local George/Knysna forest trees and indigenous bulbs as topping his list.
“Indigenous bulbs (lilies) as they go dormant and disappear, can be easily forgotten about, but then, one day, at a specific time of year, they pop up, almost from out nowhere… much like your paintbrush lilies, March lily, and Watsonias. It’s a true wonder to witness.”
Along with World Environment Day, Fancourt is also celebrating another important milestone in 2019 – its 25th birthday. As part of these celebrations, South Africans can take advantage of the Bucket List Anniversary offer from only R1,620 per night per person, based on a minimum of three nights stay.
It also includes a full English breakfast daily, two rounds of golf on either Outeniqua or Montagu, and one additional round on The Links.
Physical address: Fancourt Estate, Montagu Street, Blanco, George, South Africa, 6530