The lovetostay team is passionate about travel, exploring beautiful South Africa and protecting the environment for all. We recently packed the old faithful hi-techs and embarked on a spontaneous roadtrip to the Mossel Bay area, and more specifically, to visit one of our eco-friendly members, Gondwana Game Reserve.
Prior to this trip the word “Gondwana” would make me think of the geological supercontinent. Post our stay, hearing the word conjures recollections of a regal rhino within a sea of bright yellow fynbos flowers and baby elephants frolicking in the long grass.
As we drove through Gondwana’s gates we spotted a herd of zebra and marveled at the sight of them in this breathtaking landscape. This was just the start of our unforgettable experience.
A FEW OF OUR FAVOURITE THINGS AT GONDWANA GAME RESERVE
Even if there was no game on the reserve it would still be worth a visit, the landscape is that magnificent. Inhale the fresh air and revel in the sheer beauty of rolling hills, lush valleys, green grasses and a fynbos wonderland with thousands of vibrant pincushion proteas in full bloom. Add the ever-present Outeniqua and Langeberg Mountain ranges in the distance and you have a picture-perfect reserve.
As locals and nature lovers we have been fortunate to spend a fair amount of time in the bush, enjoying many big 5 encounters. It is striking how Gondwana`s landscape differs from the grassland and savanna biomes that we are accustomed to seeing herds of elephant and plains game graze in. This fynbos-rich setting is completely captivating.
Service at Gondwana was outstanding, from the moment we arrived until exiting the main gate on departure. The gracious hostess extended a warm welcome and went out of her way to ensure we had everything we needed for the duration of our stay. Our appointed ranger was gregarious and knowledgeable, the waitrons were hospitable and attentive, and all staff extended the utmost cordiality. The whole operation has achieved a great balance between professionalism and friendliness, which made us feel pampered and comfortable.
Kwena Lodge is simply incredible. The “huts” were inspired by traditional Khoi-San architecture and crafted in an eco-friendly way, with a modern twist and luxurious finish. The suites are spacious, private and gorgeous! We especially enjoyed the skylight at the crown of the thatched dome roof directly above the king size bed, which made for lovely stargazing at 2am! We also loved the clay firepot, the walk-in shower, the eco-friendly amenities and the natural elegance of the space.
Relaxing on the verandah one can take in the views of the lodge, the inviting infinity pool, two waterholes across the valley and the majestic Outeniqua and Langeberg Mountains. To add to the thrills, there are no fences at Kwena Lodge. Gondwana’s wildlife are free to roam, which they do, as we noted some elephant dung just outside our suite. Not to worry though, a friendly staff member is always nearby to escort you between the suites and the lodge.
It is a remarkable and exhilarating experience to quietly observe wild animals; Gondwana Game Reserve gave us plenty opportunities to do this. During our short stay we got to see 3 of the big 5: Rhinoceros, Elephant and Buffalo; the cats eluded us this time. We also saw Giraffe, Zebra, Eland, Kudu, Red Hartebeest, Wildebeest, Waterbuck, Impala, Blue Crane, Cape Sugar Bird, Cape Buzzard and many other birds. Simply spectacular!
The freshness of the day embraced us in the open-air game viewing vehicle as it traversed across the roads and through the bush. Behind the wheel, with his trained eyes scanning the terrain, Felix, our good humored and experienced ranger gave us and our new friends from Bavaria and Holland a tremendous game drive experience. Among other things he taught us the difference between the Cape Mountain Zebra and the common Plains Zebra, and how to identify and use the Soap Dogwood Tree (Noltea Africana).
The Gondwana Conservation Foundation has been established to contribute to the conservation of South Africa’s threatened and endangered wildlife and vegetation relevant to the Southern Cape through active management, training and skills development of the local people. Gondwana is involved in many important aspects of conservation from Rhino Anti Poaching to land rehabilitation.
During our game drive we saw evidence of all of the terrific work the reserve is doing in terms of removing invasive alien species in order to rehabilitate the land and promote biodiversity within this eco system. There is still so much water guzzling wattle for them to tackle together with the government`s Working for Water teams, but extremely encouraging to know that they are actively working to eradicate it.
“At Kwena we will not allow any guest to go hungry” was the cheerful response when I told the waiter that I had overindulged in their elaborate spread. An absolutely accurate statement, but what it fails to convey is the excellence of their tantalizing fare. From the freshly baked biscuits with coffee before the 6am game drive and moreish sweet & savory high tea, to a delectable 3 course dinner in the elegant dinning room – we enjoyed every aspect from presentation to pallet.
TAKE THE TIME, IT`S WORTH IT
Our time came to an end too soon and in retrospect we should have stayed another day. Still on the list of things to do was a revitalising Africology Spa treatment and a guided nature walk (always so much fun to see the little guys like the Agama Lizard and Cape Lappet Moth Caterpillar we met on the stairs). However, when we visit Gondwana again we`d opt to participate in the 6 day, authentic conservation experience at their new Tented Eco Camp.
The natural beauty of this environment is astounding. We are completely taken with Gondwana Game Reserve, the elegant Kwena Lodge and the genuine warm South African hospitality. It was wonderful to see so many foreign visitors supporting an ethical and responsible wildlife encounter in South Africa, contributing to the growth of sustainable tourism. Gondwana truly is “Nature`s perfect playground”.
Recycling, Use of local and organic produce, Responsible body products, Green Cleaning, Sustainable Energy Acumen, Eco Architecture, Water Wise practices, Community Upliftment Projects, Land Rehabilitation & Conservation. Click here for more accommodation details and information on their Green Acts for Sustainable Tourism in South Africa.