south africa

Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park

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Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
IMG_5612.jpgStaying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park
Staying at The Outpost, Kruger National Park

Meet The Outpost Lodge. This magnificent property has 12 luxury spaces cantilevered on a hill giving you a bird's eye view of the Luvuvhu River. The private, freestanding spaces are interconnected to each other and the central lodge area by 500 meters of Zimbabwean teak walkway. The contemporary architecture makes use of concrete and steel and with state-of-the-art retractable, remote-controlled screens offering 180º of uninterrupted views, you will never want to leave! 

The Outpost is situated in the Northern Kruger National Park. It is a six-hour drive from Johannesburg and a beautiful one at that. It is best to drive in the daytime as you pass local communities and pass several roadblocks that consist of goats and wild donkeys. You also don't want to miss the magnificent baobabs that are scattered across the land. 

Tucked away and blending into the environment is the gorgeous Outpost Lodge. As you enter the lodge you see that it is situated on the edge of a cliff overlooking the breathtaking landscape of the Northern Kruger. The lodge accommodates 24 guests so it is intimate and exclusive. The beauty of it is that not only are you engulfed by the bush, but you are elevated with this crows nest position to experience the bush from this incredibly unique vantage point.

The rooms are simply magnificent. I could have moved in full time! The walls are screens that roll up and blur the boundary between yourself and the bush. If you sleep with them down then you still experience all the sounds of nature whilst sleeping under your romantic mosquito net.  With uninterrupted views, you can enjoy a luxurious bubble bath overlooking the Kruger National park or enjoy an outside shower at sunset! The design of the room is clever and spacious and the large king size beds will ensure the perfect night's sleep! 

The food was inspired to say the least. With dinner on the deck under the stars surrounded by lanterns you will be in heaven. The food was delicious and included dishes such as Salmon with lemon jam paired with the perfect crisp white wine and decadent chocolate desserts. 
Before your game drive in the morning, you are invited to enjoy a light breakfast of fruit and baked treats before you head out. Once back at the lodge post-game drive you are treated to platters of gorgeous mouthfuls and I made sure to try both the vegetarian and meat selection! Neither disappointed! 

If going on amazing game drives twice a day to spot the wild animals isn't your thing you can enjoy the day at the glorious pool relaxing or go for a wild walking safari along the Luvuvhu river. I loved being barefoot and feeling the African earth between my toes and the cool water flowing water over my skin. Something I would recommend! The bird life is phenomenal in the area and there are over 350 species. A bird watchers paradise! If you close your eyes and just listen, the whoel bush is singing! 

The staff is friendly and enthusiastic to share stories of their land. Most of the staff are Shangan and like generations, before them, they have grown up in the area. It is wonderful to see an establishment that works together with the people in the area creating work and educating them to become Chefs and Rangers! 

This part of the world is truly spectacular and is something to behold in this lifetime. I can't wait to return and hear the birds sing at sunrise and to walk barefoot on the rich African soil! 

***COMPETITION TIME*** 

Would you like to win 2 nights for 2 people at this magnificent establishment? Then all you need to do is find me on Instagram to enter! You can click here. The instructions will be on the post on The Out Post Lodge. Prize valued at R29 600.00 excluding transfers to the lodge. T's & C's apply. 
*Values are as per above (for 2017 they increase for 2018)
Competition closes Monday 20th November at 9am. 

-Melissa

*This blog post is sponsored by Rare Earth Properties. All opinions are my own. 

Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve

Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
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IMG_7226.jpgExperiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Experiencing Ekuthuleni, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve

Far too often do we get tired of the hustle of our lives. 

Even so, sometimes travel can seem a little overwhelming. The thought of packing, unpacking, repacking, transfers, check-ins, flights etc all to arrive at a destination can be a deal breaker for that holiday you have been dying to go on. Well, what if I told you that a mere 3 hours drive from Johannesburg is a little piece of paradise that is uncomplicated in its beauty and is a thriving oasis for wildlife. 

Ekuthuleni is situated in Welgevonden private game reserve. A magnificent piece of land teeming with life. I flew into OR Tambo International airport (JHB) and took an easy drive to my destination. If you live in Johannesburg then you really don't have much of an excuse not to explore this part of the world! 

I really wish I knew about it when I did! You get to stay in the lap of luxury and experience the African Bush and its Big Five on safari without having to break a sweat behind the wheel.

That’s a drive I can really get behind. 

The Lodge is centrally situated within the reserve and previously was the manor house. It has a cozy and warm ambiance to it with beautiful screeded floors and leather furniture overlooking a grass plain that hosts local impala and warthog. With a watering hole, you might even spot an elephant coming for a drink in the heat of the day, as we did. The pool is inviting and I must admit I spent a fair amount of time getting my vitamin D fix! 

The rooms are luxurious and cozy with large king size beds. The glass doors open up onto a patio overlooking the grass plain where you can enjoy the view from the comfort of your room. The bathrooms were a treat to experience as you can open the doors up and experience nature in all its glory whilst soaking away your city blues in a giant bathtub!

I cannot say this enough; the food was fantastic. One of the perks of being closer to the thriving metropolis of Jozi, this lodge has the benefit of fresh produce and they sure make the most of it. Often remote game farms lack freshness in their approach to food. Not at Ekuthuleni. With local chef Laptop cooking up a storm, I was in food heaven. His food is home cooking with local flair. Ekuthuleni is a family lodge and there is something to eat for everyone. From fresh salad to aubergine bakes and gnocchi we were treated to a feast. The best part? Each evening we dined in a new location. Either under the stars, in the boma or in the manor house around a crackling fire. Each setting and meal perfect in their own right. 

You will be treated to two game drives a day. With a knowledgeable ranger that will teach you all, there is to know about the environment. The game drives last about three hours and includes a halfway stop in nature to enjoy a cup of coffee or sundowners in the evenings. Nothing goes down quite like a cold gin and tonic! Not a bad way to watch the sun go down over the African Bush. 

With attentive staff and friendly service, I felt completely immersed in Luxury and spoilt with the magnificent game sightings! 

We watched a mother Lion chase two cheeky Cheetah siblings encroaching on her turf and were treated to the privilege of watching her walk her cubs around. 

As if that wasn’t enough I also watched a young elephant bull take a rowdy mud bath complete with the sounds of gleeful trumpeting and experienced the sentient presence of a herd of Rhino's grazing just meters from me. I would be hard-pressed to describe a more humbling experience.

It truly was a game packed experience and as a bush lodge, Ekuthuleni delivers. On. Every. Level.

***COMPETITION TIME*** 

Would you like to win 2 nights for 2 people at this magnificent establishment? Then all you need to do is, like The Truffle Journal on Instagram and Facebook and Ekuthuleni on Instagram and Facebook, then comment below on this blog post on who you would take with you and why.  Prize valued at R21 200.00 excluding all transfers. T's & C's apply. 
*Values are as per above (for 2017 they increase for 2018)
Competition closes Friday 10th November at 5pm. 

-Melissa 

Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park

Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
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Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park

Picture lying in your bed. Listening to the African bush sing. When I say sing, I mean the sounds of the bush right next to you as if you are submerged in it. Every single layer of insect, bird, and animal all in harmony creating a symphony. It is the ultimate white noise sleep app that offers you perfect relaxation, except, its real. Then add in luxury and comfort, not only do you have a five-star experience but you also have Pel's Post Lodge. 

Pel's Post is an exclusive use eco-friendly lodge situated in the northern Kruger National Park. Bordered to the north by the Limpopo River and Zimbabwe and to the east by Crooks Corner and Mozambique.  This vast wilderness is a slice of paradise that seems virtually untouched by man. You can fly into Johannesburg international airport and rent a car. The drive will take about 6 1/2 hours and boasts beautiful landscapes scattered with ancient baobabs. Once at the Parfuri gate it's a short drive to the lodge. 

The lodge is tucked away in the bush on the hills,  overlooking the Luvuvhu River. You will find your way to your room along gorgeous wooden walkways that wind through the environment. The rooms are spacious, modern and based on an open plan design. So much so that several of the walls are screens that you can roll up via remote and sleep with nature on your doorstep. 180 degrees of the uninterrupted African bush. Don't worry - there is a magnificent mosquito net that will make anyone feel that they are on a romantic getaway. All the rooms have large king size beds with a bath, an inside and outside shower and all the amenities you would require. I must admit I jumped right in for the opportunity of a shower whilst overlooking the valley. 

The food is five star and well thought out by a private chef catering to all your needs. A light breakfast of fruits and cereals is provided before your morning game drive along with your much-needed coffee. Once back a light fresh brunch welcomes you while sitting on the deck overlooking the flowing river. If you are lucky an elephant might come by to take a much-needed drink or to have a splash in the midday heat. The lodge caters for all food choices whilst embracing local cuisine served with a fresh twist. You can enjoy lunch next to the shimmering pool if you prefer. In summer months the temperatures soar and a cold gin and tonic will be most welcome. Dinner is a three-course affair with a wonderful selection of wine. 

My favourite part of any bush experience is the game drives. Your wake up call is at 5:30 am (the only time I don't complain about waking up early.) Waking up to the sunrise over the valley and river with open blinds was simply spectacular. Your biological clock just tunes in and waking up with the bush environment is magical. If experiencing the game drives is not on your agenda then you can enjoy a game walk or relax at the pool and bird watch. Visiting the fever tree forest counts as one of my favourite experiences and if you find yourself visiting make sure it is a request! Driving and spotting the animals felt like driving through the garden of Eden. A moving experience on every level. 

With a private chef, exclusive vehicle and personal guide, your experience is tailor-made for luxury. The surroundings and service allow you to slip into ultimate relaxation whilst connecting with your loved ones. 

There are few places I have visited where I left a piece of my heart behind. Pel's Post - I will have to return to make my heart whole again. 

-Melissa 

*This blog post is sponsored by Rare Earth Properties. All opinions are my own. 

 

 

Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape

Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape

For as long as I can remember I have been in love with the African bush. Going on safari has a very special place in my heart. The silence, the fresh air and of course seeing the animals is one of my favourite things in the world. I am the girl who is glued to the TV watching Nat Geo and David Attenborough specials and dreams of watching the wild migration. I have known about Shamwari Game Reserve and the phenomenal work that they do in conservation for several years now, So naturally when the opportunity came up to visit - I jumped at it.

Shamwari game reserve (meaning ‘My Friend” in Shona) is situated in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. It is an approximately one-hour drive from Port Elizabeth airport. Shamwari is home to the magnificent Big Five. Namely Rhino, Elephant, Leopard, Lion, and Buffalo. It is a place where animals and people live in harmony and the animals roam freely.
Once you arrive in Shamwari, vehicles are left in a parking lot and for the remainder of your stay, transportation occurs in a luxury safari 4x4 vehicle complete with a highly qualified game ranger that will share knowledge and stories of the bush. 

Shamwari has several luxury resorts, manor houses and tented camps with breath taking scenery. Whether you are traveling as a fun loving family or escaping on a quiet romantic honeymoon, there is an accommodation to suit your needs. Shamwari also hosts corporate team building events and conferences and can cater to your requirements. 
I stayed at Eagles Crag during my stay. A gorgeous luxury hotel fashioned out of stone and glass. The stone seemed to mimic the open rock faces that surrounded the camp.

The rooms are detached suites that sleep a maximum of two adults per suite. The rooms have private plunge pools surrounded with lush bush offering ultimate privacy. The rooms are fitted with air-conditioner, mini bar facilities, bird spotting scopes and a glass shower that looks out onto nature! The rooms have king sized beds that you can get lost in. 
The food at Shamwari has a local South African flair. You can experience a traditional braai night (South African BBQ) and go on a taste journey with foods such as Potjie and Pap. Breakfast is served before the morning game drive and dinner is served with the fire place crackling after the evening drive. 

There is two scheduled game drives a day to explore the reserve and find the animals. As it’s the wild and animals are on their own time and schedule - it can be quite the challenge looking for the game but with knowledgeable Rangers at hand, you are bound to have some exciting finds.  
Be sure to visit the Born Free Foundation while you are at Shamwari. It's a foundation that works with big cats giving them a forever home that is worlds better than the cruel conditions that they came from in captivity. A truly emotional experience. If you would like to support this wonderful cause and read more, click here. 
Shamwari offers world class pampering in their on site Spa and a massage or facial is a must. 
You can also undertake guided walks, which offer a unique experience of seeing species on foot. 
If like me, you are always keen to learn more about the environment and the animals then make a visit to the rehabilitation center - I highly recommend it.
It is imperative that we learn about wild life in order to protect and conserve it. Shamwari conservationists (and so many others) are fighting what can sometimes seem like a losing war against poaching. 
It is emotional to see the exhibits but education is key to future conversation efforts and centers such as this help create awareness.
If you wish to read more and would like to make a donation click here. 

I will say this now, in its own paragraph, in its own moment. Rhino horn is made from the same keratin that makes our up our nails and hair. It has NO medicinal properties what so ever and there is NO scientific evidence to support this claim. It is a cultural belief and a myth. This myth is killing our Rhino and at this stage, if you are reading this, your children will not see a live Rhino in the wild. That is a fact. Let it sink in. 
I commend Shamwari on the war that they are fighting. You can see more here on what is happening to these majestic animals. To read more and donate, click here.

Shamwari has created a five-star experience centered around conservation and the beauty of the wild. It was a magnificent trip that I long for daily. If you can go, go. 
It is worth every second.  Being beside the most sentient and awe inspiring animals in the African bush is priceless.

-Melissa 

Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek

Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
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Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek

I recently visited one of Franschhoek’s newly launched gems that boasts clean lines, chic interior, and food that offers a familiar yet elevated flavour journey that only Reuben Riffel can take you on – meet Reuben’s restaurant and bar, Franschhoek. 

Situated in the heart of the town, this gorgeous space is roughly 40 minutes drive from Cape Town CBD and well worth the trip. Passing gorgeous wine estates and cherry blossoms (at least this time of year) along the way, an added bonus.

The space is ethereal with bright natural light filling the restaurant from the simple bold black center barred windows. The entrance is grand yet understated with a gorgeous marble floor that bounces the light and creates a feeling of space and simplicity. Perfectly chosen artwork gives the space a finishing touch. 
I fell in love with the interiors instantly. 
The restaurant accommodates for long summer lunches outside on the patio or you can make your way inside on a colder day.  There are impeccable design choices at every turn and I must say, even the restrooms impressed me with their unique black basin and gorgeous floral wallpaper. 

The food was described by Reuben as simply “Food I like to eat” with fresh local produce taking front row and center. Each course was a taste explosion and every mouthful was perfect. I couldn’t help but fall in love with every plate, not only for the food but also for the artistry that encompassed every presentation. Simplicity is key and Reuben has taken classical flavours and reimagined them. I enjoyed a glass of crisp Chenin and ended the afternoon off with decadent chocolate fondant and the perfect coffee. 

If you are undecided about the local wines on offer, try the tea and brandy cocktail to start. It will put you in the perfect frame of mind when it comes time to order your pairing partner in crime.

Reuben’s latest offering in Franschhoek, I believe, is not only a result of the natural evolution of his footprint in the valley but an inspired, considered rebirth. 

-Melissa