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Located 7km from Botrivier, on the Van Der Stel Pass; is a farm so well hidden that not even Google is aware of it’s existence. However, the farm can be found on Google Maps by searching “Union Pictures, Botrivier”.

Cornell Skop is a 140 hectare working farm with a diverse collection of animals, from sheep to lions and exotic snakes. Farm owner, Luke Cornell, is a well-known animal trainer and has been in the industry for some 30 years. The farm houses a studio, used for shooting commercials and movie scenes. Union Pictures is one of the leading animal training companies in South Africa and trains wild, exotic and farm animals for the film and television industry.

The farm offers green meadows with sheep, goats, zebra, ostrich as well as monkeys, baboons and buck. Located in a rocky mountainous area with a river and lovely hiking routes, makes this farm the perfect getaway from the city life.
Tours can be arranged with their office at a cost, which includes a guided tour with petting of the farm animals as well visiting the monkeys and baboons. The guide will then take visitors to the studio which is located on a hill behind the farm, surrounded with electric fencing.

The compound amazingly has lions, cheetah and lynx. Each of these animals can be viewed from up-close (behind a fence obviously) as the guide explains the background of how the animals ended up on the farm and which movies/commercials they have been featured in. If you’re lucky, one of the trainers or even the owner will give you the opportunity to take photos with the cheetahs.

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This has to be one of the most terrifying moments I have ever experienced. Standing next to a cheetah, hearing the loud “purr” sound as you prepare to take a photo with this beautiful animal. The splendor that they emit is relatively overwhelming. These “cats”, including the lions, has been trained and used in various films. Only Mr Cornell handles the lions and hyenas as he personally trained them.

If you still feel brave (after visiting the cats), you can also visit the exotic snakes and capuchin monkey that is kept near the main farmhouse. Other animals on the farm include: fallow deer, meerkats, storks, a rock monitor (leguaan), eland, springbok as well as peacocks, turkeys, donkeys, mules, roosters, horses and pigs to name but a few.

Experience a working farm from the moment you wake up. The farm also offers self-catering accommodation in the form of 1 & 2 bedroom cottages. These fully equipped cottages can accommodate 2 or 4 persons and are a mere 50m away from the lion camps so expects to hear roars from your terrace. Guests are encouraged to take walks on the farm and even find that perfect photo opportunity with the animals as they are all trained and “friendly to visitors”.

Botrivier is a small town of only 3.23km2 in the Overberg region of the Western Cape of South Africa. Visitors can stop over at the Botrivier Hotel for lunch on the terrace while soaking up sun, go horse-riding at Klein Paradys Equestrian Centre or visit the many surrounding wine farms in the area. Hermanus, famed for whale watching, is a mere 30 minutes away.

If you were looking for that perfect getaway; add this to your bucket list.

Cornell Skop Farm/Union Pictures | Van der Stell Pass, Botrivier

Location: Google Maps 

Cottage Bookings: SafariNow 

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