Saturday, August 16, 2003

Our friends trip to Bukela Lodge in the Amakhala Game Reserve in Eastern Cape

Des and I had the wonderful experience of staying at Bukela Lodge in the Amakhala Reserve a 5 star Eastern Cape Game Lodge last weekend.

We arrived at Bukela Lodge about 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoon and were welcomed by Steve, Kerry and Sandra.   We were taken through to the lounge where a welcome drink was waiting.    Sandra then went through the programme at the lodge and we signed the indemnity form – you can definitely see why this needs to be signed when you meet some of the guests who want to experience Africa.

Our room was everything that we had expected and more.    Each room is positioned so that it is completely private.    The rooms are large with a fire place, underfloor heating, air conditioning, jet spa bath, indoor and outdoor shower.    There is also a fridge in the entrance area plus a kettle and a large selection of tea and coffee. Each room has its own private patio – lovely to sit and relax and listen to the birds singing.

At 2.30 p.m. we went up to the main area where a scrumptious high tea was waiting.   Saturday was very hot with the temperature up to 30°C, so it almost seemed silly to be taking thick jackets, gloves and wearing denims at this stage, but the one thing I have learned is that Game Drives can get very cold, especially once the sun has gone down.

We set off on our game drive at 3 p.m. and drove towards a large plain where a cheetah with 5 babies had been seen in the morning.    We did not see the Cheetahs, but we did see lots of buck and Zebra.    We had been driving for a while when we came across the Buffalo who all seemed very happy.    There was 1 baby in the herd which was very cute.    The interesting thing I learned that day was that the baby buffalo goes through the mother’s back legs to drink – also for protection.   This section of the Amakhala Reserve did not have lions so the animals were pretty safe from predators as most of them were too big for the Cheetahs or any other predators.

We came across an area where the elephants had been earlier and followed their trail until we came across the elephants.   Steve decided this would be a good time to have our sundowners and watch the elephants.    Sundowners are always welcome – and that afternoon we had biltong and dried wors plus whatever drink you had ordered earlier.

The sun was going down as we followed the elephants for a while, amazing how quickly these enormous animals can walk.    The one elephant seemed a bit too interested in our vehicle – walked right up to it.  

On our way back to the camp we came across a snake in the road, Steve jumped down and showed it to us.    The reason the snake was around was that it had been so hot that day.

We got back to the lodge and were welcomed with a glass of sherry and then went to relax and clean up before dinner.

Dinner consisted of a starter of Camembert Cheese baked in pastry with Cranberry Sauce, butternut soup and a choice of a beef fillet or chicken plus a variety of vegetables.    The pudding was just the right end to the great meal.

We were extremely lucky with our fellow guests – a family of 5 from England and a couple from Durban.    Meals are eaten together and it lends to the whole experience, sharing what you have seen and finding out more about each other.

Wake up on Sunday morning was 6.30 a.m.    The amazing thing is that when I am in a game reserve, 6.30 is a good time to wake up, but when I am at home that seems very early.

The start of the day was cereals, toast, rusks, and biscuits with coffee, tea and orange juice and then we were off on the game drive.    We went in another direction and saw Hlosi Game Lodge.    We were looking for Rhino and Giraffes.   It did not take us long to find about 6 giraffes, mainly male with a couple of youngsters with them. We then drove around – the great thing about a good ranger is that they explain so much about the area you are in, picking up droppings to show you interesting things about it.   We found a lot of Rhino droppings and after our coffee break found a family of Rhinos, mother, father and baby.     These are such weird looking animals and when you look at them happily grazing you wander how anyone can injure or kill them for their horns.    We were close to a waterhole and watched them saunter across to drink water – watched by about 6 giraffes.   On our way back to the lodge we saw a lot of zebra and some wildebeest with of course a good number of buck.

Brunch is served soon after you arrive back at the lodge – fresh fruit and yoghourt followed by a cooked breakfast which will definitely mean that you do not feel hungry for many hours. After brunch it is time to relax until 2.30 p.m. and high tea.    

Sunday afternoon was very cold – the wind had arrived and a definite cold front was on its way through.    We now met the new guests, a couple from Hungary.    Perhaps this is the time to point out that although you are in a reserve with rangers who know their way around, the animals are wild and they do not have collars with radios in them, so the rangers have to find the animals on their own.    The other important thing to realize is that you have to listen to your Ranger – he is there to protect you and keep you safe, so if you do not listen to him, you put not only yourself in danger but the Ranger as well.

We were driving along the main road and just turning the way we had gone the day before when we saw the Cheetah and her cubs crossing the road ahead.    What a sight, mother and 5 babies.   We all agreed that this mother has got the obedience thing down to a fine art – those babies did exactly what they were supposed to do, no questions asked.    We spent a lot of time watching and looking for her and were really lucky to see the mother hunting an Impala (unfortunately for her, she did not manage to do it).    We spent a lot of time with the Hartebees and other buck and saw a really beautiful herd of Impala and Zebra.    It was really cold and Steve took us to a waterhole which was sheltered from the wind for our sundowners.

We all voted to go back to the lodge as the weather was really miserable and we were all very cold.    Steve took us up to an area where we looked over the plains surrounding the Bushman’s River (unfortunately very low due to the drought at the moment).    

Sunday night’s dinner was once against something to tempt your taste buds and ensure that you would not be hungry.     

On Monday morning we went to the other section of the Amakhala Game Reserve where the lions are.    In this section there is also Black Rhino and lots of buck.

We found the lions quite quickly and were really lucky as they decided to change their positions – I think they were cold and looking for sun.    We had a great view of the 2 lions walking and the male is really a magnificent animal.  

We got back to Bukela quite late that morning and by the time we had brunch it was time to say good-bye and get ready to face reality.

I would recommend Bukela to anyone – the service is absolutely amazing and from the moment you arrive you are made to feel extremely important and that nothing could be too much trouble to ensure your happiness. For more information on where to stay and places to see in South Africa visit where2stay-southafrica
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Sunday, August 3, 2003

Summer Picnic Concerts in the Cape Winelands

Summer picnic concerts take place right across the Cape Winelands region of South Africa. These wonderful events are a great opportunity to get together with friends and family and to sit and relax and enjoy a mixture of classical, jazz and swing music. One such event is the Nederberg Picnic Concerts which take place at the lovely Nederberg Wine Estate. This years final annual picnic concert event takes place on the 27th November 2003 at 1700 at the glorious Nederberg Wine Estate. In a change to previous years this years event will be taking place on the Saturday afternoon and is called "Swing, Classic, Cabaret and all that Jazz" so there is something for every musical taste.

This concert itself starts at 1700 but you will be able to get in from 1500 on the day. This enables you the opportunity to arrive early and to claim your piece of lawn to have your picnic on. If you like you can even pre-order a Nederberg Picnic Platter at a cost of R030 per person or you can bring your own. Guests are politely requested to not bring any wine as Nederberg wines will be available. Tickets for this event cost R80 per person with children under 12 going free. 

Find out more about whats going on in South Africa and where to stay at
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Saturday, August 2, 2003

Jeffreys Bay the surf capital of South Africa

The Jeffreys Bay region is renowned for its gorgeous beaches, endless summers, plentiful shells and is best known as “the Surf Mecca of the World”. The beautiful beaches are safe for bathing and provide endless excitement for water sport enthusiasts. Nestled in the Eastern Cape Province, Jeffreys Bay is located just 90km from Port Elizabeth Airport and is a short stop off the famous Garden Route, a place like no other in the world in terms of beauty, natural attractions and unique flora and fauna.

Jeffreys Bay is also home to the only World Championship Surfing Tour event in South Africa. The Billabong Pro J-Bay is the biggest and richest surfing event in Africa attracting the top 45 surfers in the world to challenge for over $400,000 in prize money. The event in Jeffreys Bay in July each year attracts 30,000 daily visitors. The crowds really get into the event with lots of cheering and of course those famous vuvuzelas.

Jeffreys Bay was also the recent location for the sequel to the movie Blue Crush II. The perfect conditions and superb beaches brought the cast over from the USA to film this during 2003. Cast members included Sasha Jackson from One Tree Hill, Sharna Vinson from Step Up 3D and Ben Millikin. We were especially pleased to hear that one of our clients "On the Beach Guest House" had the pleasure of hosting the film's director and cast members as well as the Vice President of Universal Studios. The film is due for release in 2014. This fabulous Guest House is located right on the beach with views to die for.

Jeffreys Bay is a very popular destination in the December Festive season attracting local and international visitors who come to enjoy the golden beaches and sunshine along with the many festive activities.  For other accommodation ideas for South Africa visit .
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