There’s nothing like an African Safari.
One where a qualified ranger takes you across vast green plains and over rolling hills in search of game. Not quite knowing what you will meet as you round the next bend. The anticipation heightened by the reality that the game is wild and free, that you are working to earn the privilege of a glimpse of them.
Often the gift of time in the bush comes with a long drive or flight, yet last weekend I was invited by Robyn Leigh Elford of Nicky Arthur PR to join Natalie Roos of a Tails of a Mermaid and Kayli Vee Levitan of Food Blog CT to spend the weekend at Gondwana Game Reserve. Only a four hours drive from Cape Town.
We have visionary conservationists Mark and Wendy Rutherfoord to thank for this 15000 ha reserve just inland of Mossel Bay, which they have helped transform into a free roaming Big 5 wonderland. Taking years to regenerate the land from farm use back to natural indigenous fynbos, the team steadily introduced over 20 species of game including hippo, cheetah, kudu, eland, elephant, red hartebeest, lion, giraffe and the rare and endangered black and white rhino.
These were the first black rhino in the Western Cape for over a century and they joined the grey Rhebok, bush buck and smaller animals like aardvark, bush pig, African wild cat, caracal, and greysbok already resident on the property.
The reintroduced game was allowed time to acclimatise whilst lodges were built on carved shelves of land overlooking endless views across the hills.
Kwena Lodge is very impressive. On arrival you are met with a view across the infinity pool and boma which overlook the watering holes. The public areas comprise of large comfortable lounges, dining rooms and a reception area with free wi-fi. To the side perfectly spaced, 14 open plan suites with beds placed under skylights for stargazing. Private bathrooms, private decks, a fireplace, mini bar and dressing room. See in more detail more here.
We stayed a little way off at one of the Bush Villas. A four bedroom en-suite with spacious living area and a fireplace that we kept going while the rain fell outside. A fully equipped kitchen, dining room, wooden deck and spectacular views.
These villas are family friendly, fully serviced and have a game ranger appointed for reserve activities. You have the option of ordering meals or self-catering and can add a meal to your stay with some prior notice, even after you’ve arrived.
Taking in some afternoon sun with Natalie Roos.
Beautiful food throughout, from lunch to high tea and dinner, with my request for vegetarian carefully catered for. We even had a picnic basket brimming with delicious treats delivered to us on the Saturday afternoon, so that we didn’t have to leave the Villa.
Our game drives rewarded one of the best rhino sighting I’ve experienced, zebra, eland, impala and elephant in the rain. Amongst other things.
Like a painted canvas, we found these these elephant against the fynbos in the rain. Well worth getting caught out and soon warmed up with hot chocolate.
This is the look of four very happy Girls on Safari as our guide James pointed out all there was to see and appreciate. Bringing the bush and fynbos landscape to life.
Sundowners, one of the highlights of an evening game drive.
Its in the detail. Very magical to see game in the fynbos.
Love this pic of Natalie taking in the morning rays.
Gondwana Game Reserve took me into the bush for a weekend of true African safari and is probably the most authentic game viewing experience the Western Cape has to offer. All this whilst my every need was being carefully tended to by charming staff in the very heart of luxury. They are constantly monitoring their game management and are looking at stocking additional plains game in the months to come.
Oh, and the sunrise and sunsets are unbeatable!
I loved every moment there and hope to get back. Also – I had the very best company! Love this pic of below by Kalyi.
A few more reasons Gondwana Game Reserve is a good place to safari.
– Only four hours from Cape Town, Gondwana is also easily slotted into a Garden Route tour as the perfect place to spend a couple of nights between Cape Town and Knysna or Plettenberg Bay.
– Their various accommodation options and packages give you the ability to match an option to suite your budget. Whichever you choose, the game viewing will be the same!
– George Airport is only a 45-minute drive away and transfers are provided.
– Malaria free!