7 reasons to visit Gondwana Private Game Reserve

2014-07-08 10:38
It was cold, dark and rainy outside. All I really wanted to do was stay curled up and cozy in the sumptuous folds of my Queen-sized bed.  

But I knew there was just no way. Our ranger, PG, had been very clear about that: come rain, shine, floods or snow, we would be heading out on a game drive to experience the incredible scenery of Gondwana Private Game Reserve at first light.  

So, out of bed it was, straight into about five layers of clothing and finally onto the open game viewing vehicle.  

We hadn’t gone very far before it started spitting down. PG stopped. We held our breaths – would this be reason enough to return to the villa and, ultimately, bed?! Turns out, no.

“Good thing I brought these along,” he said as he handed each of us a huge, waterproof poncho before revving the engine and heading off once more.  

I fought the urge to grumble.

But it was only when we entered a protea forest, dreamily decorated with jewel-like raindrops that all resistance finally crumbled. As the vehicle brushed against the vegetation, releasing a fresh Fynbos fragrance, I suddenly realised this was way better than a second morning nap.    

Here are seven reasons this game reserve is definitely worth a visit.    

1. The location

Situated a mere 30km from the Garden Route gateway town of Mossel Bay, Gondwana has serious potential as a bush and beach destination. With its thatch roof buildings, open safari vehicles and free roaming wildlife, it has all the charm of a bush destination… and guess what… sometimes you even get a faint whiff of the ocean. How cool is that? Oh, and, of course, this also means it’s completely malaria free.  

2. The vistas

Chances are, when you head out on your first game drive, your ranger will take you on the most spectacular route of them all: a breathtaking descent from up high on the plateau, right down into the valley. Yes, the roads are rough and bumpy, and if you suffer from a bad case of acrophobia, you’re probably going to be a bit scared as the vehicle hops along a semi-vertical cliff-edge. But, don’t even think about closing your eyes for a moment! The views are beyond spectacular, especially when the clouds transform the lush vales into soft seas of white.      

3. The Big 5 among Proteas

At first it just didn’t gel. I love Proteas. And I love lions. But loving them together, at the same time just felt a little wrong. However, it’s really amazing how once you’re there it all just makes sense. Like it was always meant to be that way. Interestingly, I guess it was, as lions did actually occur in this part of the Western Cape originally and so did elephants, rhinos, leopards and buffalo.

The property is also home to some of the most gorgeous cheetahs you will ever lay your eyes on, as well as an array of antelope species, zebra, giraffe and two very energetic hippos!

Of all the animals roaming around there, however, it was the herd of Eland that really captured my imagination. Majestic and nomadic, these creatures are the ultimate gentle giants… and here’s the best part – there was one who had lost a horn, and I swear, she’d turned into a proper unicorn!  

4. The affordable self-catering villas

Gondwana recently introduced a self-catering option into their accommodation offering, which definitely won’t break the bank. The beautiful thatched villas offer spacious open plan interiors with expansive outdoor areas and three to four en suite bedrooms. There’s a large living area with a fireplace perfect for chilly winter’s nights and an outside braai area for the quintessential bush meal.  

There are various economical packages from which to choose, with the cheapest being R800 per person for fully self-catering with the option of adding activities and meals of your choosing at an extra cost.

The one we would suggest you opt for, however, is definitely the B&B option including a daily game drive from R1 395 per person.  

Check out the Gondwana website for more details about their accommodation offering. 

5. The peace

With very little cell phone reception, TVs only available for DVD watching and 11 000 ha of pristine nature, you can really just let go of all those little niggly bothers of everyday life.  

6. The helpful staff

From your arrival at the very first gate till your last game drive, you will be treated like absolute royalty… by everyone! If you’re staying in one of the self-catering villas and want to head to the restaurant for supper, there is no option to take a quick stroll as the camp is not fenced and the lions do trek through there on the odd occasion, but your guide will be ready to pick you up whenever you call! Pretty damn amazing!   

7. The roadtrip!

Seeing you’re probably going to have to drive from somewhere to get to the reserve, you may as well make the most of the drive. If you’re heading there from Cape Town, leave nice and early and take it super slow. Stop just outside Swellendam for a legendary breakfast of ‘roosterkoek’ at Oude Post restaurant located at the Buffeljags BP garage.

Drink in the scenery and start relaxing well before your 14:00 check in at Gondwana, so when you get there it's a quick and easy wind-down into an unforgettable weekend.    

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Read more on:    travel  |  travel south africa  |  bush

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