Monday, April 29, 2013

Ukhozi Lodge, Kariega Game Reserve – Eastern Cape – Jeremy Williamson

Now here is a reserve where some really excellent big game sightings may be enjoyed. The Reserve is close to the popular Garden Route, making it an ideal Big 5 safari venue to visit whilst touring the Cape. This malaria-free South African game park has some of the richest biodiversity in southern Africa with the return of most of the wildlife that were so prevalent in the area, before their decimation by the early hunters. And that includes members of the Big 5. Leopard are present in the area but are rather elusive and rarely seen, a legacy of that early persecution? 

Eye to eye with Lana

The reserve is also fortunate to have two rather scenic rivers flowing through it as well, the Kariega and Bushman's . The topography is very interesting , quite varied with steep wooded valleys and open grasslands affording really good diverse game viewing.

There are presently four Lodges on the reserve, with expansion of the reserve and development of another luxury tented camp in the planning stages. Kariega Game Reserve really seems to be a vibrant, forward thinking venue.
The four star Main Camp is quite substantial in size and geared to cater for larger groups and families, with accommodation in 21 log Chalets. All these log chalets are air-conditioned, the bedrooms have en suite bathrooms, whilst the chalets have a fire place, view deck and satellite TV's. The more exclusive uKhozi Lodge which abuts Main Camp, offers separate facilities such as the more intimate central lounging / dining area and pool. Each of the chalets have their own plunge pool at the four star superior uKhozi Lodge. 

The accommodation and setup of the Lodge here at Main and uKhozi  is slightly different to the norm. Firstly, one is able to drive to ones Chalet where there is covered parking making the handling of luggage so easy. Then the Chalets are Swiss log-cabin styled? Spacious and comfortable, and in our suite, with the most enormous double bed, extra length and width King-size!  

 The entire camp area is well fenced making it safe to be able to walk ones-self back to ones room after dinner. I enjoyed that, with the most amazing starry night skies above, tripping over the stones in the path and being caught up in the odd thorn bush as we meandered eyes gazing ever upwards back to slumberland .
But it’s really about the wildlife. The animals are very relaxed here, so much so that on arrival we had to wend our way through and past a herd of blesbok, they just would'nt budge.

We met Alison, our Ranger for the duration of our stay at Kariega, how she managed that massive open game drive vehicle so dexterously impressed me. Fun too as we hurtled over the hills and dales in search of our next sighting. And good sightings we had ! Some really good elephant viewing and they too, were really relaxed around the vehicles. Well all except one little newcomer who tried to see off one of the Safari vehicles. ...

... and another who just had to show us how big he was ! or close he could get !

Whilst others needed to vent their excess of testosterone on one another! Note the dense Albany thicket biome with the Cape candelabra euphorbia

 Then the lion, well what could one expect ?  Totally relaxed! Or was it that they were just bored?

Just pawsing

Then the buffalo, these are particularly valuable as they are all certified  “disease fee” so no foot and mouth or corridor disease here. The main road to Kenton-on-sea cuts directly through Kariega Game Reserve, this dividing fence has one advantage, the buffalo can easily be separated from the lion, to roam freely in a substantial sector of the reserve, safe from predation.

The herbivores  are not so fortunate and occur in both sectors of the Kariega Game Reserve, I wonder if they are given the chance to draw straws as to where they will reside?. This public road is hardly intrusive, what with the rather efficient electric gate ‘locks’ – each point with dual gates, which would obviate any cunning animal from sneaking through – meanwhile allowing speedy egress  for the Safari vehicles.

A dazzle of Zebra?

We visited River Lodge on the Bushmans River to see what the Lodge was like so that we could best advise our clientele. What a lovely Lodge and excursion that was, a game drive through to the river where we boarded for a scenic cruise downstream  to the Lodge. Guests are either driven directly to the Lodge, or are alternatively able to avail upon the boat transfer. The Lodge is set  right on the banks of the river with the public areas having expansive views over the water.

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