Set in the Western Cape region of South Africa, 30 minutes’ drive from Mossel Bay is a game reserve bought in 1996 by a veterinarian. What began as a small family affair with his son and wife doing game drives from their farm house has grown over the years to becoming a successful private game reserve with a few thousand animals.
What makes this reserve unique was the start of successfully breeding the black impala which was very poorly understood at the time. Black impala are very rarely seen in the wild, they lack camouflage and sufficient ways of cooling themselves down, therefore easily falling to predators. Dr Dirk Neethling started to try breed the recessive gene, at first it was very unsuccessful, but later on the first baby black impala was born, due to the rarity selling them on the market earned millions.
When I visited we stayed in the tented camps with a package deal of 2 nights, bed and breakfast, one game drive and a horse safari, we were impressed from the start. We were greeted at the gate, luggage taken to our room and the car parked for us. At check in we were given a glass of sparkling wine and homemade biltong paté with tortilla chips. The room was done to a very high standard, everything had its place and all added its own wow factor. My favorite were the large wooden framed doors, once you open it you had a spectacular view, the other door open up to an outside stone shower, also opening up a large bath to enjoy the outside.
Breakfast and Dinner every day were delicious, each buffet style but a little different every day. Breakfast had every item you could think of, besides the usual cereals, pastries and hot breakfasts a few unusual aspects were interesting fruits, Non-alcoholic fruit juice shots and sparkling wine. Dinner had many African rooted meals including a variety of game meats, potjie and sides available to choose from for the main meal. Soup, starters, palate cleanser and desert had option on the set menu to choose from. The meals you could enjoy as much or a little as you wanted with the waitresses and waiters being very professional and helpful. At the end of the evening staff even played the djembe drums attempting to teach us too.
The game drive was well informed with a professional guide, the sightings good with relaxed animals that have grown accustomed to high activity making for great viewing, although you miss the wild nature like in national parks. They have four of the big five, with other animals including hippos, giraffe and many antelope species, with the lion and elephants being in a separate section from the lodges and game. There is a very rich bird life here and I was excited to see Knysna Lorie and African fish eagle. At the end of the game drive we were greeted with hot towels and a choice of juice or sherry.
As an optional activity there was canoeing, this was fun and relaxing, with the stretch of river not being too big we pottered around for an hour sometimes just stopping and taking in the scenery and hoping a hippo might just say hi. Enjoy the sunshine and quiet was lovely and we even saw some weavers hard at work building new nest for the upcoming spring as we drifted by.
The horse safari was great, with amazing stables for the horses. The horses were well trained and the guide was very knowledgeable with a real passion for working with them. We went tailing up the mountains and down steep hills and finishing off going through the river. A fascinating bit of nature the guide pointed out was a pair of Dikkops (spotted thick knees) nesting in a dry river showing off their threat display and slowly settling back down once we stayed still. There are many activities we did not do including bush walks, experienced horse safaris, tennis, bird hide and spa; I heard great comments about the spa from other visitors.
Truly great weekend, recommended to anyone who feels like a pampered treat away.