Monday, April 8, 2013

Woodbury Lodge – Amakhala Game Reserve – Jeremy Williamson

Woodbury Lodge in the Malaria free Amakhala Game Reserve, Eastern Cape.
Less than an hour’s drive from Port Elizabeth, we turned off the N2 north, and took the short dirt road drive to Amakhala’s Woodbury Lodge.  Woodbury Lodge is very much as one would expect a luxury game lodge to be. Separate thatched chalets set in the bush, each with panoramic views over the plains and game below. 

There is a central public area, with lounge, bar, dining room, internet,.....

...boma and swimming pool.

The  air-conditioned chalets are built from local stone with private bathroom en suite.

There is a lounging area with tea station and mini bar. For iced water there is a station where one fills the supplied Amakhala water bottle. The camp has been built in and on the sides of a picturesque gorge. We had towering cliffs on the one side, home to a family of baboon who vociferously welcomed the dawn, home too, to a wide variety of birds, raptors nesting as well. I could have spent more time watching them from our private gazebo / viewing deck.

A super welcome and we were soon well ensconced in our comfortable suite.  Repairs were being affected to the pathway hand rails to our chalet, attesting to the apparent inquisitiveness of some of the Park elephant, the camp is not fenced!
This Lodge has a lovely friendly feel to it. Lunch on the main viewing deck,

guests seated all together at a long table, the chatter was lively as we got to know our fellow guests  – help yourself to the delicious fare. Fresh juices and good ‘farm’ coffee, I was in my element. The deck had a magnificent over-view of the plains below....

– in the distance I watched as a herd of some 14 elephant left a riparian forested section and cut directly across this open grassland. I was too enthralled to take a picture – what an image, as this herd followed the matriarch in single file! They had crossed this vast open space before I could get my wits about me. Surprisingly how fast they move when on a mission.  On a mission they indeed were. That afternoon we were off on a game drive and our Ranger, James, thought it would be a good idea to see where they were a heading. Well we found them, much later – in the very furthest south eastern sector, quite some distance from their lunchtime departure point.  They certainly can cover some ground when they want to! Having reached their destination they were very relaxed and happily browsing .

We had really interesting game drives with James.  Such an enthusiastic and knowledgeable lover of the wildlife and the bush here. He really enjoys his vocation and especially the sharing of it with guests.  I certainly enjoyed his style of guiding, giving time for guests to enjoy and learn about the ‘lesser’ animals . It was super seeing so many really large Leopard tortoise - Stigmochelys pardalis, some possibly 50 years old, not seen at these large sizes in the game parks further north. James suggested that this could be attributed to the veld burning regimes, with the fires in their area less frequent and ‘colder’ a burn through which the local tortoise could survive. This appears not to be the case in the Zululand and Kruger Park areas where large Leopard tortoise are rarely seen, their short lifespan being attributed possibly to being subjected to more frequent and hotter fire?

Quite an old fella this !

I enjoyed the diversity of species too, maybe too divers. Some species I deemed foreign to the area although it is argued that they had migrated through the area in some historical records. Well they certainly seem pretty happy here and are apparently thriving. The bird life was also excellent and we had some marvelous sightings.

Secretary bird

The topography is also conducive to viewing the game with considerable open grasslands, where so many of the antelope, buffalo, zebra and white rhino congregate. The vegetation too is interesting with the Boerbean trees flowering in profusion.

 Karoo boer-bean  Schotia afra

The elephant and giraffe were found on the periphery of these, with the lion and cheetah relaxing in the shade somewhere.

Quite a few Giraffe at Amakhala

Dinner at the Lodge that night was in their dining room. There is a rotation of hosts with the two owners also taking turns – this is a really wonderful way for the owners and rangers to really get the feel of what their guests are experiencing. Good too for guests to be able to converse directly with the owners.
We had Justin, the Lodge’s head Ranger as our host for the evening and the conversation at table was great, what a super dinner and the wine excellent.  Fun too, having all guests at the one large long table. New friends from all over the World !
So at Woodbury we have a typical luxury Game Lodge with a professional feel to it. Comfortable open game viewing vehicle, accomplished and professional rangers, super meals along with a casual welcoming atmosphere, all this in a reserve that had produced some really good sightings. 

Red Hartebeest

Greater Kudu


Certainly excellent value for money and with the knowledge that you are in a game reserve where most of the high profile animals that historically occurred here, might (should and certainly could) be seen. 
Photographs by;  Jeremy and Lana Williamson

1 comment:

  1. The lodge were comfortable and the people were friendly and helpful.

    more info