Monday, May 30, 2011

My Recent Tour to the Kruger Park and Mala Mala

I had been in contact with my clients for many months, setting up this tour, and the day had finally arrived to begin what I had hoped was a successful safari. We left Johannesburg en route to the Drakensberg Escarpment in Mpumalanga and from there onto the Kruger National Park. The Panorama Route provided some good scenery as usual – at the Lisbon Falls the waterfalls were flowing strongly, and despite some cloud cover, God’s Window was clear, as were the Three Rondawels. These areas can sometimes be covered in a mist blanket if there is cloud about, but on this afternoon it was clear and we could see for miles.

Kruger Park was Kruger Park – some good days and some bad days, but all in all, very enjoyable. I regard the Kruger Park as my spiritual home, and have spent many hours driving in this great reserve. For me there is no such thing as a “bad” game drive, and even if I travel for hours without seeing many animals, there is always a promise of something exciting around the next corner. The only blemish on the Kruger Park part of this tour was the quality of their food – they just cannot seem to get it right. However, one does not go to the Kruger Park for their culinary delights, one goes there to view nature in this large, game rich chunk of South Africa, truly the flag-ship of the national parks in this country. Food issues aside, game viewing, although not spectacular, was quite good at certain times. I am not going to list all that we saw, but some of the more exceptional finds were a good sighting of a serval, a puff adder on the sunset drive (in the chill of the night nogal!), and the good few hours spent at Lake Panic near Skukuza. Other animals that we saw, in no particular order, were plenty of elephant (which are now almost as common as impala), a very large herd of buffalo (about 1000 plus, maybe more), lion on the road near Skukuza, lots of zebra, giraffe, wildebeest and a myriad of other antelope and bird species, some fairly close and some quite far off the roads.
I had never been to Mala Mala to stay, but had been there quite a few times when picking up or dropping off other clients, and even these little 10 minute stops had whetted my appetite, so I was excited to be here. The Sabi Sands differs vastly from the Kruger Park in that you don’t have any other public vehicles about – and let’s face it, sometimes the public in the Kruger Park can be somewhat inconsiderate. There are also rules and regulations in the Kruger Park which have to be adhered to, (and this is perfectly understandable), but these rules don’t pertain to the private reserves, such as the Sabi Sands, so off-road driving is a normal occurrence here to see the prime animals. We were met by Lucky, who was to be our guide for our two nights stay, and what a nice chap he turned out to be, friendly, knowledgeable, informative, a good driver and a good eye for spotting game. We received a good briefing on what was to happen, an orientation tour of the lodge, its facilities and our rooms, before being invited to lunch. How this differed from our previous three lunches! Breakfasts and lunches at Mala Mala were enjoyed on the deck, and dinners were in the boma. The quality and variety of food was excellent, the levels of service outstanding – what more can one say? And the lodge? All I can say is that it was comfortable, luxurious and with excellent food and service. The rooms? Don’t ask me about the colour of the tiles in the bathrooms, the colour of the curtains, whether the linen was cotton or some other product, whether the furniture was modern and contemporary or Victorian, whether the duvets had Eider down, duck down or plain old Nando’s chicken feathers – I don’t know, it was all good. There was a double bed, with the option of twins, two bathrooms, one with a bath, one with a shower, a writing desk, clothes cupboard, wall safe, telephone and more. I was there for the wildlife, not to do an article for “House and Home”! All I can say was that the game viewing, coupled with the excellent accommodation and lodge set-up, were second to none. They even have wi-fi, a 24-hour free internet service, and for those who have to get the latest up to date rugby scores, a satellite (DSTV) television, library, pub, etc.

I will hereunder go through the more exciting sightings on our game drives, but please bear in mind that many of the animals that we saw are not going to be mentioned – there simply is not space for all of them and it is boring to read the animal names on a list.

On our first afternoon/evening drive we started off by stopping in the middle of a large herd of buffalo, one of whom was to lose his life later that night, but more of this later. Isn’t it strange how one can sit in a Land Rover amongst hundreds of buffalo without any thought of danger and photograph these animals to your heart’s content, which of course is what we did? We then later came across two adult lionesses with four cubs of about eleven months old. This was in the dusk, so I didn’t take too many photos, and those that I did take were not that good. When it was dark, we came upon another two lionesses that were stalking a herd of impala, but their initial attack was unsuccessful. It was by now pitch dark, so we did not stick around to see if they would make any other attempts. Leaving this scene, we chanced upon three male lions, swaggering down one of the roads. We followed these animals all the way to the direction of the herd of buffalo. At one point they had to cross the Sand River, which, due to the unseasonal good rains, was flowing pretty well. It was funny to watch the trepidation with which they crossed the river. The three were in a line, and of course the task fell upon the first lion in line to make the initial crossing. He first tested the waters, as it were, with his paw, dipping it in and then shaking it about. This he did a few times, before taking the plunge, followed immediately by the second male. The third male waited awhile to see if they would make it, and when they were almost out on the other side, he made his move as well. What followed then was much shaking and rolling about on the sand to get rid of the water in their coats. Who says you have to go to Botswana to see lions swim – they do that in South Africa as well? We followed them all the way to the area where we could hear the buffalo, but we were not fortunate (or is that unfortunate?) to see them kill anything. They did however kill an adult bull sometime during the night, as we returned to this spot of the kill the next morning.

En route to the buffalo kill we came upon two lionesses on the airstrip, but as the light was still poor, and we wanted to get to the kill, we did not spend too much time with them. Before we got to the kill, Lucky heard about a leopard that had been found, so we first detoured to this. This was a young male and we had hardly found him when he decided that it was time to rest, so he curled up into a little ball and closed his eyes. We sat there for some time, but there was very little activity from him, so we moved on.

At the buffalo kill were the three male lions, as well as the two lionesses and the four cubs from the previous evening. At this stage only one of the males was feeding, and he was hogging this dead buffalo to himself, telling any cub that ventured too close in no uncertain terms that he was not happy, by snapping and growling at the unfortunate, hungry cub. This male was feeding at the rear of the animal, and two cubs did manage to sneak to the neck area, but their teeth were not developed enough to break the skin and tear into the flesh here, so they satisfied themselves by licking around this neck area and ended up chewing on some of the intestines of the dead animal.

Whilst we were sitting here watching all of this, Lucky heard a leopard call from somewhere near the river, so after a while we went looking for this animal. After some serious off-road driving we had to abandon this task as the leopard had disappeared without being found (leopards have a way of doing this, at will, when they want to). In any event, it was now time for breakfast, and we headed back to camp, but not before making a short detour to have a look at a herd of elephant. One young bull gave us quite a show, with him sloshing water and mud all over himself, before joining the rest of the herd. Then it was back to the lodge for a sumptuous breakfast, some rest, a sumptuous lunch, afternoon tea and again onto the afternoon/evening game drive (and my wife wonders why I am slightly portly around the middle!).

This afternoon’s drive turned out to be a quiet affair. We stopped at the buffalo kill just to see how far the lions had progressed with this mound of meat, saw some rhinos in the gathering dark, also some elephant and searched, unsuccessfully, for this morning’s leopard. Not all game drives can be exciting – there are some, even in the Sabi Sands, where you don’t always see what you want, but hang it, if sightings of lion, elephant and rhino, not to mention the general game, are quiet, then what is an exciting drive?

The following mornings drive, our last, turned out pretty good. As we left the camp Lucky told us that two leopards had been seen not too far away, so off we went. We found one young male up a tree, close to Rattrays on Mala Mala, whilst the second, older male, was hidden in some long grass. What had happened was that the guests at Rattrays were enjoying their morning hot drinks before embarking on their drives, when they heard and then saw the commotion of the older leopard chasing the younger one into the tree, so the word spread, and we were now with both leopards. This was so early that the sun had not yet come up over the horizon, and the leopard in the tree, pretty high up in the tree I may add, was still in shadow. However, he and the older male were having an argument with one another, and every now and then a growl would emit from the one or the other – what a way to wait for the rising sun. Once the sun touched the top of the tree and then eventually the leopard, it was time for some photos. The young male even obliged, when the light was at its best, to turn around in the tree and face our vehicle, so quite a lot of photos were taken.

The older male eventually tired of this and moved off in the shadows and we then followed him for a short while, before leaving him to go and search for cheetah. Unfortunately we did not find any cheetah, but travelled pretty far on Mala Mala’s large exclusive property, right up against the boundary with the Kruger Park – these two parks are separated simply by a dirt track – there are no fences, so animals move freely between these vast areas. What we did find in the open areas were plenty of plains game and one accommodating black-backed jackal, who did not mind posing for a few photos. Alas, this was now getting late and we had to return to camp for our breakfast. At breakfast I took some time, between the cold buffet and the hot breakfast servings, to take my last photos of elephant and bushbuck in the river. What a way to enjoy breakfast! We then, with heavy hearts, checked-out and made our way to Johannesburg where the clients were to be dropped off at the OR Tambo International.

Judy, Joanne, Dan and Mark – if you are reading this, thanks for being such wonderful company and you were a pleasure to be with – I hope to see you one day in the future.

My thoughts on Mala Mala? I have been fortunate in the past to have visited other lodges in this prestigious private reserve and they all are of a high standard and quality. Mala Mala’s lodge where we stayed was not the most luxurious of these lodges (although I suspect that Rattrays on Mala Mala may well compare with the most luxurious) but the level of service, the standard of food and accommodation as well as the quality of game drives stands back for no other lodge – in fact, Mala Mala may well set the bench-mark. There was no rush when at a sighting to make way for any other vehicles who may want to come for a look, and we spent as long as we wanted at any sighting. Our guide was attuned mainly to showing us the “big-5” and I suspect that this is what 99% of all clients want, so this was what he delivered. However, Lucky at all times was quite happy to stop when asked by any of his guests and to look at and discuss any plant, bird or animals that the stop was for. Having said this, there was enough luxury to satisfy even the most discerning of guests, but it was not out of place in the bush.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sabi Sands 2011

There are a number of stunning lodges in the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve which is renowned for having the best Big Five game viewing in South Africa, if not the world. Nowhere in South Africa will one find a wildlife experience quite like the one experienced within the Sabi Sand Reserve. Sharing a 50km unfenced border with the Kruger National Park, this immense (65 000 hectare/ 153 000 acre) and diverse tract of land is home to The Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant), and much, much more. Two perennial rivers supply the game reserve with a valuable water source. The Sand River flows through the reserve for 50km (31 miles) from north-west to south-east whilst the Sabie River flows on the southern boundary. The sustenance of these rivers ensures that this area enjoys one of the highest and most bio-diverse wildlife populations of any area in Africa. Over two hundred different species live in abundance, whilst the ever-changing bird life provides even the most experienced ornithologist with rare finds. Such is the environment that the wildlife, save for the migratory birds, remain in their territories all year round.

Wildlife viewing here is second to none. The Sabi Sand Reserve enjoys good quality viewing of leopard (the most elusive of predators), as well as elephant, lion, rhino, leopard, buffalo, cheetah, giraffe, zebra and a vast variety of antelope and other species. In fact, a checklist of the reserve would yield no fewer than 330+ tree species, 110+ reptile species, 500+ bird species and 145+ mammal species, all occurring in their own natural environment.

Open safari vehicles, seating between 4 and 10 visitors each, head out into the wild under the expert guidance of experienced rangers and insightful trackers. Guests are able to get in close contact with Africa's most exciting wildlife species, and are presented with unparalleled photographic opportunities. Early morning safaris head out as the sun rises and as the bush stirs to life. The ranger and tracker teams search for animals by tracking their spoor, and by listening for the tell-tale signs of activity. The bush has its own language, and it is fascinating to watch those who possess the tools to encode it. Late afternoon safaris commence as the sun burns its way towards the horizon. The animals are now getting more active, many preparing for the great hunt after dark. After sundowners, the drive continues with the aid of powerful spotlights that reveal nocturnal species in another world. On average, approximately 6 hours a day or more are spent out in the bush on safari.

Most of these lodges follow the Wildlife Safari format: arrive for lunch on the first day. Check in and orientation and introduction to the bush. Out on game drive from about 15h30 or 16h00. Sundowners are enjoyed in the bush. Return after a period of night driving where the nocturnal species are searched for by spotlight. These drives are in open Land Rover safari-type vehicles. The driver is an experienced guide who will make the drive more interesting. A tracker sits in front and follows the animals, often off road to secure sightings that are often really close and clear. Early next morning you are awakened at dawn, tea/coffee and rusks are served and out on a game drive again, returning to breakfast. After breakfast there is an opportunity to go on a guided walk in the bush with an armed ranger. This usually focuses on the tracks, insects, birds and the smaller animals. Alternatively relax at the lodge. Many have a lovely outlook into the bush and possibly a water hole at which a variety of animals visit during the day. Lunch and then the cycle repeats itself with the afternoon safari game drive. On your last day there would be the early game drive, followed by breakfast after which you would depart. This is dependent on the time that your flight leaves - if you are traveling with your own transport, its approx 11h00.

The most convenient way to do this safari is to fly directly from the Johannesburg International Airport (now called OR Tambo International) to the lodge of your choice, with the flying time being about 1 - 1½ hours.

The Sabi Sand Reserve boasts a selection of superb lodges that are masters in the field of hospitality - perfecting what has become known as the luxury photographic safari experience. Beautiful accommodations, breathtaking landscapes, fine cuisine, skilled and personable guides and rangers are but a few of the aspects that a visitor may expect to enjoy. Each lodge has something unique to offer and I recommend any of the following lodges:

(Click on links below to make your Booking or Phone / e-mail Far & Wild Safaris on 031 2083684 /

Arathusa Safari Lodge: Between R2300 and R4700 per person sharing per night. Tariffs vary between standard and luxury rooms and seasonal periods.

Cheetah Plains
: Between R3300 and R3600 per person sharing per night. Tariffs vary between standard and luxury rooms and seasonal periods.

Chitwa Chitwa
: R4600 to R6000 per person sharing per night. Tariffs vary between seasonal periods.

Chitwa House
: R26400 to R35000 per night for this lodge which sleeps four persons. Tariffs vary between seasonal periods.

Djuma Galago
: R9500 per night for this self-catering lodge which sleeps a maximum of ten persons.

Djuma Vuyatella
: R4500 per person sharing per night.

Dulini Lodge
: Between R4630 and R6650 per person sharing per night. Tariffs vary between seasonal periods.

Elephant Plains
: Between R1580 and R2680 per person sharing per night. Tariffs vary between rondawel and luxury rooms and seasonal periods.

Exeter River Lodge
: Between R4630 and R6650 per person sharing per night. Tariffs vary between seasonal periods.

: Between R3000 and R3900 per person sharing per night. Tariffs vary between seasonal periods.

: R3300 to R4400 per person sharing per night. Tariffs vary between standard and executive double rooms and seasonal periods.

Kirkmans Kamp
: Between R3780 and R5395 per person sharing per night. Tariffs vary between seasonal periods.

Leadwood Lodge
: Between R5545 and R8290 per person sharing per night. Tariffs vary between seasonal periods.

Leopard Hills
: R7900 per person sharing per night.

Lion Sands Ivory Lodge
: R9500 per person sharing per night.

Lion Sands River Lodge
: Between R5780 and R8920 per person sharing per night. Tariffs vary between standard and luxury suites and seasonal periods.

Lion Sands 1933 Lodge
: Tariffs are between R84850 and R94790. Tariffs vary between seasonal periods for this sole-use lodge.

Londolozi Founders Camp
: Between R5841 and R6950 per person sharing per night. Tariffs vary between standard and luxury rooms and number of nights reserved.

Londolozi Pioneer Camp
: Between R8550 and R9500 per person sharing per night. Tariffs vary between numbers of nights reserved

Londolozi Private Granite Suites
: Between R9450 and R10500 per person sharing per night. Tariffs vary between numbers of nights reserved.

Londolozi Tree Camp
: Between R8550 and R9500 per person sharing per night. Tariffs vary between numbers of nights reserved.

Londolozi Varty Camp
: Between R5900 and R6225 per person sharing per night. Tariffs vary between standard and luxury rooms and number of nights reserved.

Mala Mala Main Camp
: Between USD625 and USD700 per person sharing per night. Tariffs vary between luxury rooms and suites. This USD tariff is converted into ZAR at time of confirmation.

Mala Mala Sable Camp
: USD775 per person sharing per night. This USD tariff is converted into ZAR at time of confirmation.

: Between R2050 and R2485 per person sharing per night. Tariffs vary between seasonal periods.

: Between R2750 and R3350 per person sharing per night. Tariffs vary between seasonal periods.

Rattrays on Mala Mala
: USD925 per person sharing per night. This USD tariff is converted into ZAR at time of confirmation.

Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge
: Between R5300 and R6500 per person sharing per night. Tariffs vary between seasonal periods.

Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge
: R8500 per person sharing per night. Amber Presidential Suite, which includes a private Land Rover, at R16200 per person sharing per night.

Sabi Sabi Little Bush Camp
: Between R4900 and R5500 per person sharing per night. Tariffs vary between seasonal periods.

Sabi Sabi Selati Lodge
: Between R5550 and R6700 per person sharing per night. Tariffs vary between seasonal periods.

These are the current 2011 rates and are subject to change. The variation in rates at some of
the lodges varies from lodges within the one group, or is dependent upon seasonal "high" or "low" tariffs. October / March is generally high season.

At all of the lodges, this rate includes the following:

- Luxurious accommodation - Three delicious meals daily including all teas and coffees

- Two scheduled game-drives daily in an open 4 x 4 safari vehicle, accompanied by an experienced Ranger and Tracker

- Interactive bush walks (one hour) accompanied by experienced armed Trackers

- VAT / Taxes

At many of the lodges, house wines, local brand spirits and beers, soft drinks and bottled water are also included in this rate.

Credit: Far & Wild Safaris

Monday, May 16, 2011

Elephant Rock Lodge, Nambiti Private Game Reserve

I have just returned from a tour to the Nambiti Private Game Reserve, situated close to Ladysmith in KwaZulu Natal, and I must say, I was pretty impressed (and rather chuffed with myself – this will become clearer in the next paragraph).

I had reserved a tour for a couple from Canada to one of our public game reserves in KwaZulu Natal, and this was all done and dusted – paid for, bookings confirmed, etc. About the time that all this was being confirmed, I had occasion to visit this park on another tour and was slightly disappointed on a number of issues, which I will not go into here. So, during one of those long game drives, when game is scarce and the bush is very thick, I got to thinking, “what about an alternative for my Canadian guests?” My colleague had just returned from Nambiti, and he was very enthusiastic about the place. I had never been there, but I know that his opinion can be relied on, so when I returned to the office, I approached my clients and offered them an alternative, this being the Elephant Rock Lodge in Nambiti. When I set out the pro’s and con’s, they were quite happy to switch to Nambiti, so with due haste this new reservation was made and the old one cancelled. We were off to Nambiti!

I was still a bit concerned about whether I had done the right thing, but three days before I was to collect them I again had occasion to visit this public park for a few days, and this visit told me that I had done the right thing. So on Monday it was a three-odd hour drive from Zimbali through Ladysmith to Nambiti. With its waterfalls and diverse landscapes, Nambiti offers endless opportunities and options. Unlike most other game reserves, Nambiti has the carrying capacity of twice that of regions like Botswana, thus being able to carry more game per acre than other reserves. The Nambiti Private Game Reserve was begun in 1999 from what was originally a cattle farming area. These farms were acquired and then the mammoth task of removing internal fencing and old buildings started. After all the unwanted manmade structures were removed, the job of removing all alien vegetation commenced. After some time the reserve was ready for the delicate task of re-introducing wildlife. After many years of management, the reserve has now come full circle. The fauna is flourishing and the fauna has settled down into the slow moving time of Africa. What I experienced on our game drives was that the reserve certainly has plenty of water – all those old cattle farms had farm dams which have now been incorporated into the reserve, so unless there is serious drought in this area, water will be in abundance here.

We arrived at the reserve and parked our “soft” vehicle in the secure car park, where we were collected by our ranger. Steve, our ranger for the duration of our stay, took us to the lodge, where we were shown to our rooms. Superbly sited overlooking a waterhole, Elephant Rock Lodge is a charming boutique safari lodge offering luxury accommodation for up to 10 people. The lodge boasts five well appointed luxurious suites that are well spaced for total privacy and include an en-suite bathroom, private deck and outdoor shower, and all have great views of the waterhole or the indigenous bushveld. Another good thing about this lodge is that it is fenced, so one does not require an armed escort to get around inside the camp after dark! The rooms have ceiling fans, double or twin beds, his and hers basins, outside shower and all other trimmings one can hope for, all in all, very comfortable. The most appreciated by me was the presence of electric blankets, which were sorely needed in these cold nights!

We enjoyed lunch, which was very good. In fact, all our meals were very good. Breakfast has a cold buffet section, and your order is taken for your hot breakfast, which included eggs (done in any which way) mushrooms, bacon, sausages, tomato, toast, etc. Lunches are usually quite light (they have to be after a full breakfast) and consisted of quiche, salads, chicken-bake and similar dishes. It is during lunch that your orders are taken for your dinner preferences, which gives you a choice of starters, mains and dessert – two or three choices each. Coffee, tea, Milo, hot chocolate etc. is available at all times at the lodge.

At Nambiti we enjoyed four game drives - two in the afternoon and into the evening and two in the early morning, into the mid morning. These were done in open safari vehicles with our guide Steve. Just a short word on Steve – an excellent guide, enthusiastic, very knowledgeable and keen, simply a pleasure to be with. On that topic, Inge and her staff at the lodge also did a fine job and well-done to them. What I particularly enjoyed about the early morning drives was the early mist hanging over the dams and into the valleys, before slowly being burned off by the ever rising sun. What I particularly enjoyed was time spent in the open plains, which were dotted with a variety of plains game and great light. Having said this, all areas of this reserve were good, and a variety of wildlife was seen. I will not bore you with which animals were seen on which drives, but I will list hereunder the animals that we did see – I made notes, so as not to forget!

I could not believe the diversity of animals that we had seen – this I have never experienced before in any reserve in South Africa, whether private or public, and as for the “special” sightings, we saw cheetah (twice), serval (twice) and aardwolf once. For any experienced nature guides who may be reading this, you will know that sightings of these animals during the course of four game drives, is very, very rare. We also saw the following animals, not classified by me as “specials” but nonetheless great to see, and in no particular order and in large numbers for the most part; kudu, zebra, mountain reedbuck, common reedbuck, red hartebeest, blue wildebeest, black wildebeest (they are to remove all of them in due course – you cannot have the two types on one property), eland, hippo, elephant, white rhino, waterbuck, impala, giraffe, black-backed jackal, warthog, nyala, spotted hyena and gemsbok (oryx). All that we missed out on was lion and buffalo, but I must say that Steve tried very hard to find these, and as everyone knows, wild animals come and go as they please, there are no guarantees.

Now with all the good things to say about the lodge, surely there must be some negatives? Yes, there is one negative Рthe lodge does not have filter coffee! In this day and age, surely this is not too difficult to serve. It need not be available at all times, but there should be filter coffee available before the morning game drive, at breakfast and lunch Рinstant coffee is not real coffee! All one need is some real coffee beans, a coffee grinder, a percolator or cafeti̬re or any other similar product. Come on, Elephant Rock, it can be done!
PS - The Lodge has done it with good coffee, from a French Press the order of the day now !

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Montusi Mountain Lodge

Montusi Mountain Lodge is a venue in my favourite more scenic northern part of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park that is a really delightful holiday destination. Ten years ago this farm was overgrown with wattle trees – with foresight and a great deal of hard work Anthony Carte and his family have transformed this into a beautiful retreat with lovely indigenous gardens and really comfortable cosy thatched chalets. Each of the 14 individual garden suites has their own patio and panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and more distant Drakensberg Amphitheater. Each unit comfortably appointed with kingsized beds, a comfortable lounge with fireplace, TV, drinks fridge and a tea / coffee station. The bathrooms have both a bath and shower. Consideration for the oft frequent hail storms during summer are covered car-ports at each chalet.

Family run, with willing and most friendly staff we were soon ensconced in our rooms and ready for - a walk on the property - a hike from the Thendele Car Park in the Royal Natal Park to the base of the Tugela Falls - or for the really adventurous and fit , a drive around to Witsieshoek and a climb to the summit of the Amphitheater up the 2 chain ladders to the top. What a view!

There are a lot of activities – hiking on the many trails, (some San Rock Art sites here too) horse riding, fishing, swimming in the rock pools, tennis, mountain biking and adventure activities at the nearby centre where one can go on a canopy tour, bungee jumping or shooting paint balls. We took it easy and relaxed, gentle stroll enjoying the fresh mountain air.

The main lodge has a large comfortable lounge – fireplaces, a library and superb afternoon tea and cake. An intrigueing “painting” – sand glued to the base in varied colours of heavy metals – the ‘sand’ sourced from Richards Bay Minerals – all shimmery when lit is amazing, credit to the artist.

Dinner a splendid affair with a choice of starters, mains and desert , accompanied by a delightful bottle of wine. We returned to our chalets just before the rain came pouring down. What a lovely sound as I drifted off to sleep. With so much to do our time in the mountains was too short – Montusi Mountain Lodge is a place where one could spend a number of days, revitalizing and relaxing in peaceful, comfortable surroundings.