Charene & Renate's Educational along the Garden Route (August 2007)
We have recently gone on a 5 day educational along the scenic "Garden route" in South Africa.
22 August 2007
Our first stop was Augusta De Mist Guest House, a building dating back to the 1800's and is situated in the historic heart of Swellendam. It is a lovely cosy house with fantastic gardens and a plunge pool. Augusta De Mist is perfect for a one night stop over.
23 August 2007
The next day we drove to Idwala Game Lodge in the Eastern Cape, a place where you will get the distinctive feeling of being in Africa. The lodge is beautifully decorated and after the long drive from Swellendam we just relaxed in the lodge for the afternoon.
24 August 2007
At the crack of dawn we met in the dining area for muffins & coffee before we headed off into the reserve on a game drive. After having spotted abundant wild animals our guide, Mark, stopped off at Kichaka Lodge. Kichaka is lovely with an African contemporary design throughout. The main deck overlooks a waterhole, where there are frequent sightings of game. Upstairs there is a guest library. The rooms are stunning and spacious with under-floor heating, private decks and heated plunge pools.
Our game drive was a great success! We were fortunate to spot a pride of lions and cubs feeding, as well as Rhino and warthog. With such friendly staff, and superb meals, Idwala Game Lodge was a memorable experience.
We left Idwala in the afternoon and headed for Long Lee Manor a short drive away. It is an elegant colonial style establishment in the heart of Shamwari Game Reserve. Shortly after arriving, we were on a game drive with our selected ranger, Morne', where we spotted numerous wildlife. During the drive we stopped at Bushman’s River Lodge for a sight inspection. Bushman’s River Lodge is a beautifully restored Victorian homestead surrounded by African wilderness. The home-away-from-home atmosphere is a welcoming reminder of true South African hospitality. It is beautifully decorated in an artistic ethnic theme.
We had one more stop on the way back to our lodge for the night. At Riverdene Lodge the attention is on elegance in the wilderness. The rooms are superbly decorated with a colonial African design, with en-suite bathrooms. Another great advantage of Riverdene is that they are "wheel chair friendly".
25 August 2007
The next morning we had a busy schedule of lodge inspections. We headed to Bayethe Tented Lodge. Nestled along the banks of the river are the camouflaged luxury tents which allow ample privacy. Each tent has its own private viewing deck and plunge pool. A real must for honeymooners!
Our next stop was a few kilometres away, at Lobengula Lodge. A traditional African experience tucked deep in the valley bushveld. With all the rooms ethnically decorated, Lobengula offers a tranquil, luxurious and exclusive get-away.
Our thrird stop was at Eagles Crag Lodge, a place where ultimate luxury is personified and where eagles soar over you! Nestled in a valley, Eagles Crag provides the ultimate luxury for the discerning traveller. Decorated in light contemporary colours, with wall-to-wall glass doors on two sides, the suites provide stunning views of the surrounding cliffs. And with the luxury spa on the property, what more could you ask for.
After the Shamwari lodge inspections, we said our goodbyes and headed towards Knysna, a 3 hour drive away. Stayed over at Tonquani Lodge & Spa, a beautiful and magical place, giving you the feeling of living in a forest. All the log cabin chalets are individually decorated with beautiful furnishings throughout and have their own private patios.
26 August 2007
Our first stop the next morning was at Bosavern Guest House, a stylish, upmarket guesthouse on the cliffs of Knysna. We were welcomed by Vivienne and Gerald, the owners. All the bedrooms have patios opening up onto the pool area, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the bay and golf course.
Our next stop took us to The Plettenberg Hotel in Plettenberg Bay. This is a five star hotel, built on a rocky headland with breathtaking views of the sea, mountain and miles of golden sand. We then went across the road to one of thier other room types, the Lookout Villa. This African contemporary house, enjoys views of the magical sunrise, whales breaching in the winter months, and dolphins all year round. Gentle sandy and ocean colours filter through the house, with a mixture of textures and lighting creating a warm and relaxed atmosphere. We then headed to the Ocean Song Guest House. This beach house has a modern and airy living space. The bedrooms are spacious, but guests need to ensure they book en-suite bedrooms, as not all bedrooms are en-suite.
Nestled against the coastal hillside of the beautiful Plettenberg Bay is the Ocean Watch Guest House. We received a very warm welcome, by wonderful owners Judy and Glen, who took us on a tour of their quaint guest house. At Ocean Watch, the emphasis on relaxed, elegant and open-air feel aims to make your stay as memorable and comfortable as possible. All the rooms are tastefully decorated in natural sand and sea tones and have magnificent views. If you want impeccable hospitality and a great time while you relax, then Ocean Watch Guest House is definitely the place to be. A special mention goes to for Glen & Judy, who run a lovely guesthouse. Our final stop in Plettenberg Bay was Southern Cross Beach House - a colonial style home, tastefully decorated in the colours of the sand, sea and sky.
We headed back towards Knysna to the Knysna Elephant Park, where we got up close and personal with the resident elephants. Accomodation is offered in a boma where you overlook the elephnats sleeping at night. It was an amazing experience that was thoroughly enjoyed. An ideal place for elephant lovers and backpackers passing through.
Our Last stop for the day was Monkeyland. A unique sanctuary that caters for several species of primate, and you get to see them roaming free and in harmony. On our guided walk we were fortunate enough to have seen the Black and White Ruffed Lemur, Ringtail Lemur, Black-handed Spider Monkey, Squirrel Monkey and Vervet Monkeys. The object to the experience is to search for the primates and then see them roaming free in their own environment.
After a very busy day, we headed back to Tonquani and had a relaxing evening.
27 August 2007
We woke up the next morning once again feeling refreshed. Before heading back to Cape Town we popped in to a few lodges in Knysna. Knysna Hollow is a beautifully establishment set on a secluded old country estate near Knysna's famous lagoon and set amongst timeless oaks and pecan trees. The gracious old manor house forms the focal point of the lodge. All the rooms are decorated with a Knysna forest feel. They all open onto a sparkling pool. Our final stop was Phantom Forest. Nestled in the Afromontane Forest, with endless views, shared only with Fish Eagles, the large and elevated luxury 'Tree Suites' are an African celebration of natural textures. The Chutzpah is a sparkling Moroccan-style dining and leisure space, where you can relax while sipping on a colourful cocktail. There are two types of accommodation, luxurious Tree Suites (where you will experience African textures) and the Moroccan suites. With sensuous touches of silks and velvets, you can relax in the bath surrounded by big panes of clear glass windows overlooking the forest – giving the impression of bathing in the forest. Alternatively, one can relax in the Spa, also enjoying views of the forest. One piece of advice though, you need to be fairly fit to walk up and down the stairs to the various sections of Phantom Forest!
I never realised just how beautiful the Eastern Cape and Garden Route were. I now see the attraction and can highly recommend it!