African Safaris Consultants Blog » Staff Reviews Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:28:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 JW’s Western Cape Roadtrip Adventure Mon, 17 Sep 2012 13:38:36 +0000 One of the greatest benefits of running a company with offices in NYC and Cape Town is spending time in both cities. While I call NYC home, Cape Town, or the Mother City as it‘s referred to in South Africa, is really my second domicile. I‘m lucky enough to visit there four times a year and I now have wonderful business partners, colleagues and friends there. As many of you know, whenever I head to South Africa on these business trips, I try to squeeze in a visit to a hotel, bush camp, or safari lodge that we send clients to. This past weekend I visited a beautiful private game reserve near the Western Cape Cederberg Mountains, Bushman’s Kloof, followed by a visit to a stalwart favorite — my friend Julian Melck’s farm, Kersefontein.

On Saturday morning I awoke in Cape Town and headed north on the N7 motorway, up the west coast, to Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat, a beautiful private nature reserve set on 18500 acres of pristine wilderness. While not a Big-Five game lodge like those we often visit in the Greater Kruger National Park, Bushman’s Kloof is a terrific place to chill out and relax before or after the safari and Cape Town visit. With 16 rooms and a private, 2-bedroom villa (sleeps 4 adults + 4 kids), the lodge is an all-inclusive Relais and Chateaux property. Activities offered on premises include bushwalks amongst the wildflowers, visits to the numerous pre-historic Bushmen cave paintings, mountain biking, World-class spa treatments, and a lot more. While I was in residence, I noticed quite a few of the guests simply relaxing around one of the four swimming pools.


Bushmans Kloof. Relaxation is…

What I most liked about Bushman’s Kloof is the serenity that abounds. All the employees and guests have a placid calmness and air about them. After my 3-hour drive up from Cape Town, I felt myself immediately calm down upon arrival at the lodge. Upon check-in, I found the rooms five-star and the food was amongst the best I’ve had anywhere in South Africa. I honestly couldn’t find anything wrong with the property, other than, perhaps, the distance from Cape Town. The lodge does, however, offer charter flights from Cape Town, directly into the local airstrip. If your budget allows, I would definitely use this mode of transport for my next visit.

What’s the bottom line on Bushman’s Kloof? It’s a fabulous lodge that’s truly unlike any other in South Africa. The archeological significance of the area, coupled with a five-star operation, make it a winner.


Bushmans Kloof – Room Interior

Approximately 2 hours south of Bushman’s Kloof, and a bit closer to the Atlantic coast, lies Julian Melck’s working guest farm, Kersefontein. Julian is the farm’s 8th-generation owner and relies on cattle, sheep, wheat, and paying guests as his livelihood. I’ve brought tour groups and sent numerous individual guests here over the years, and in so doing, Julian has become a dear friend. Kersefontein is the perfect off-the-beaten path experience for the adventurous traveler who wants an experience like no other in South Africa. The nightly rate includes basic accommodations in guest rooms that are converted stables, farm activities, dinner in the Cape Dutch manor house dining room (typically with wild boar from the farm), and breakfast the following morning.

The food is delicious regional home cooking, lovingly prepared by Julian’s staff, who are de facto family members (their ancestors worked on the farm with Julian’s). Farm activities include hiking, horseback riding and visits to other sites in the surrounding countryside and west-coast of the Cape.


The exquisite Cape Dutch architecture of Kersefontein Main House

A visit to Kersefontein is perfect for those travelers who wish to have a true South African, farm-visit experience. And while it’s not the fanciest of level accommodation compared to many of the other lodges, camps and hotels we send our clients to, the personal interaction with Julian, on his farm, is an experience like no other. Any visit to Kersefontein is the highlight of my trip to South Africa.

By: Jeff Ward

]]> 0 African Safari Consultants goes Dining Around Fri, 03 Aug 2012 11:23:43 +0000 A couple of weeks ago, the team at African Safari Consultants were invited for a Dine Around at The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront compliments of our gracious host Annette of AI Marketing. When I first saw the email titled ‘Dine Around’ in my inbox, I had no idea of the tour of culinary delights that awaited. To say that I was pleasantly surprised is somewhat of an understatement…

It was a wet and rainy Friday afternoon in Cape Town, and I was the first of my colleagues to arrive at The Greek Fisherman – the first stop on our tour of the V&A Waterfront’s gastronomic powerhouses. With its doors having opened in 1992 – the same year of the Waterfront itself – The Greek Fisherman has enjoyed sustained success. I was immediately impressed by the attentive staff, who  showed me to the table that Annette has reserved earlier for our party. With the ladies yet to arrive, I was free to give the menu a thorough once-over. And once was not enough!


The Greek Fisherman Interior

Annette and my colleagues arrived shortly after my stomach began rumbling after perusing the menu. It wasn’t a second too soon! The descriptions of the Mediterranean delicacies on offer had aroused a latent hunger that I could no longer ignore. Annette explained to us that the three restaurants we were to visit were all owned by the same family, who are of Greek and Italian descent. Annette signalled to the staff that we were ready for our meal, which appeared on our table a short while thereafter.


Pita and Humus

I’ve always been a fan of meze platters, so I was really excited when the spread was laid on our table. First up were the Feta Pastry Rolls  which combined creamy Greek feta with dill, baked to perfection in a light phyllo pastry. That was followed by pita bread with traditional Greek spreads of humus, tzatziki and tarama – each freshly made on the premises. With enthusiastic dipping taking place table-wide, the haloumi cheese almost went unnoticed. Almost. It was fried to perfection and accompanied by a delicious quince jelly, and it did not last very long. The final dish served was the pride of the meze platter – the souvlaki. The meat skewers, basted in lemon and oregano, topped off what was a true Greek delight. Magnificent!

After the last of the tzatziki was finished and the final piece of haloumi munched, it was time to make our way next door to The City Grill. The City Grill’s interior is immediately reminiscent of some of the restaurants we’ve dined at in luxurious camps around Africa. The zebra accents on the wall, coupled with the patent leather tables, let it be known in no uncertain terms that one was very much in Africa. With ample space to accommodate even the biggest touring parties, the City Grill also boasts an extensive wine collection with Sommelier service for that perfect pairing. After taking it all in, we took our seats and awaited what was to be one terrific main course.


Team ASC is served their Venison Skewer at City Grill

Our lovely hostess and her waiting team soon began the procession from kitchen to table, where we sat enthusiastically awaiting to taste what our nostrils were already smelling with delight. Served before us was a spread fit for an African king. There were succulent pork spare ribs basted in a sticky BBQ sauce; delicious medium rare fillet of beef with rice; traditional South African boerewors (sausage) with potato wedges; spicy, perfectly cooked chicken wings; Ostrich fillet and a skewer of South African venison. Thankfully, none of our party were vegetarian, so the selection of meat was met with the adoration it deserved. If I had to describe how delicious -how mouth meltingly tender – each piece of meat was, I would be here all day. I would also be extremely hungry! The food was absolutely faultless and went down rather brilliantly with a glass of the house red. Bliss.

With our stomachs considerably fuller than at the beginning of this culinary tour de force, we made our way upstairs to the final stop of the trip – the Italian themed Meloncino for dessert.  Meloncino’s interior is sophisticated cool and would be equally suitable to a visiting family with children as it would a group of young professionals keen on some cocktails. With plenty of seating area, there is also a DJ booth for later at night when the kids have enjoyed their wood fired pizza and are snugly in bed. After taking in the surrounds, it was time to concentrate on a rather extensive menu. Although I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, there was no way I was going to let this calibre of dessert slip me by…


Meloncino Interior

Four out of five of our party ordered the same thing – the Torta Strepitosa ai 3 Cioccolati. The sexy sounding dessert comprises of baked cream pasticceara and white chocolate on a milk chocolate base, topped with seasonal wild berries and a dark chocolate sauce. It. Was. Sensational! Though my stomach was suggesting that it should perhaps be nap time, I ignored it’s foolish sentiments and proceeded to finish every last bit of chocolatey splendour on my plate. As did the rest of my colleagues!


Dream Dessert

 When the final plate had been collected and the last of the cappuccino was drunk, it was time to part ways with what had been excellent Friday afternoon company. African Safari Consultants wish to thank Annette and her team for their gracious hospitality! And we eagerly await Round 2…

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ASC’s Week in the Kruger National Park [part 1] Fri, 15 Jun 2012 05:59:35 +0000 As you (hopefully) noticed, last week was a quiet one on the African Safari Social Media front. Thankfully there was no illness present nor was there a catastrophic crash of computers. The reason for our brief absence was altogether a far more pleasant one – I was fortunate enough to spend Sunday to Friday at one of my favourite places in the whole world, the Kruger National Park. This is part one of two recounting what was an incredible week.

Having grown up in Botswana, the African bush has always been very firmly entrenched in my heart. Since before I could walk, much less spot lions, I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited wildlife parks throughout Southern Africa with my parents,  themselves avid wildlife lovers.  My folks, through regular visits to wildlife parks and home education, instilled in me a love and reverence for the wild and it’s inhabitants that transcends just about all others – it truly is my happy place! So when my family called me a couple of months ago to check if I was keen to spend a week in the Kruger with them, I jumped at the opportunity…

I arrived at Cape Town International Airport at about 11am last week Sunday, with bags packed and safari vision engaged. It had been about two years since my last visit to the bush, and I was awash with nervous excitement – boarding time could not come soon enough! After successfully checking in aboard my SAA Airlink flight, we landed safely and smoothly at the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) a mere two and a half hours later. The flight is really manageable and takes in some beautiful scenery as you approach the airport, which is located a convenient 60kms outside of Nelspruit – the capital of South Africa’s Mpumalanga Province. It was my first time flying to KMIA and I must say I was very impressed with the service and efficiency of the staff, as well as by the look and feel of the airport – which was designed very much with the African bush in mind.

Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport

Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport

After meeting up with my parents, who had flown in from Johannesburg, we collected our hired car and set off for the Kruger National Park’s Malelane Gate, which is just about the Southernmost point of entry to the famous park. Malelane is situated right on the banks of the  mighty Crocodile River so one must first cross the Crocodile River bridge to reach the entrance – and that is where the adventure begins. Cars full of excited tourists (local and foreign alike) stop to park on the bridge, as the abundance of game becomes immediately evident. The river itself plays host to Nile crocodiles and hippos who reside in its waters, but of course attracts all manner of animals to feed and drink at its edge.

We watched the hippos and crocodiles going about their day-to-day activities for about half an hour, and were just about to proceed to the gate when we were greeted with possibly my favourite of all African sounds – the call of the Fish Eagle. After listening out for the majestic eagle to cry again, we caught sight of him (or her) just before that most beautiful of sounds filled the air. Then, not moments later, the eagle descended downwards towards the river at a rapid pace – eyes fixed on its lunch swimming dangerously close to the surface. In the blink of any eye, the eagle swooped down, grabbed the fish, and flew off again all before the poor thing knew what was happening. With such great sightings before we’d even entered the park, it was clearly going to be a good trip!

Fish Eagle

A Fish Eagle mid hunt

The Kruger National Park is a beautiful place at the best of times, but none more so than in the winter months. The weather is pleasantly mild, as opposed to the overwhelming heat of summer, and the bush is not as dense as during the rainy season. Both of these factors are conducive to better game spotting, as animals are more likely to be out and about in cooler conditions and are more easily visible when the vegetation is sparse.

We’d not travelled for more than five minutes when we saw our first sighting of African elephant – a favourite of my father. With the park having been in existence since 1898, the animals have come to accept human visitors as non threatening and as such are very relaxed when you stop to view them. The elephants carried on as if we weren’t even there (which is just a little rude) and proceeded to feast and play with reckless abandon. Watching these gentle giants is always a pleasure, and were fortunate enough to catch sight of a young calf in amongst her overprotective mother’s legs. Beautiful!

Winter in the Kruger National Park

Winter in the Kruger National Park

We settled in at camp and armed ourselves with snacks and beverages for the afternoon, before setting off in our trusty hired vehicle to soak up the last couple hours of sunlight before the camp gates closed at 17.30. Acting upon the advice of a helpful ranger at our camp, we stuck to the tarred roads hoping to see the animals soak up the radiating warmth of the asphalt. With only moderate success after an hour or so, we decided instead to take a gravel side road and hope for better luck. And man did we hit a spot of luck!

After 30 or so years of visiting national parks around Southern Africa, my parents have just about seen it all. Except a leopard. In all their years of safaris, the spotted feline has managed to successfully elude them each and every single time. But not this trip! Barely five minutes after turning on to the gravel road, we were blessed with that holy grails of wildlife spotting – a wild leopard up close. Walking along the road, as cool as you like, was a full-grown male leopard not even 10 feet from us. We were fortunate enough to be the only car on the road and tailed him (literally, as he fluffed his up in the air as he walked) for about 15 minutes. An incredible experience!

Our view for 15 minutes

Our view for 15 minutes

Content with the days viewings, we returned to camp for some much-needed nourishment and tale swapping as we reminisced over the  sightings of the afternoon.

Check back next week for part 2 of ‘ASC’s Week in the Kruger National Park’.

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Staff Review: Indigo Bay Island Resort & Spa Tue, 24 May 2011 11:18:37 +0000 I have just travelled to Mozambique on the back of a trip to South Africa to check out some lodges and resorts. All in all it was a fab time, learning lots about Rani Resorts as well as looking at current travel logistics in Mozambique and how best to include the country into our itineraries.  The tropical islands in Mozambique are ideal for chilling on the beach, diving and water activities and eating masses of seafood after  the “hard work” of a safari.  I was a guest of Rani Resorts at Indigo Bay Island Resort & Spa.

High Points : 

  • Food was excellent, especially the fresh seafood offerings throughout the day
  • Extensive house wine list (especially the Boschendal Blanc de Blanc)
  • The Sanctuary Spa — both treatment and the facility were excellent. I loved my soul-to-soul massage, and thought the spa facility to be one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen
  • Excursion over to Paradise Island – an awesome trip – the boat ride over, snorkelling, the picnic lunch, and the walking tour of hotel ruins
  • The competent presence of the front-of-house staff & managers.  Their attitude was “can do” and they were always around and visible
  • The Bayview Villa was comfortable and I slept like a baby

There were one or two lowlights… like when housekeeping didn’t notice the “do not disturb” sign was on the door and came in to clean the pool only to find me running around scantily clad!

In a nutshell it’s not an intimate lodge, but a full-scale resort.  It’s a good product and excellent for families. It would work well for incentive groups, honeymooners (in the Beachfront Villas) and multi-generational trips (using the Bayview Villas).

Rani Resorts also own Matemo Island, Medjumbe Private Island and Pemba Beach Hotel & Spa if something smaller is your preference!

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Staff Review: Bayethe Lodge Fri, 29 Apr 2011 11:05:33 +0000 As we speak, I am on safari at Shamwari Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape! Our lodge, Bayethe, is a 5 star tented lodge with all the trimmings you would expect.  The superb food and excellent service has pleasantly surprised me – my last visit here was a bit disappointing, but they have really picked up their game.  The staff have been absolutely outstanding!

On our game drive this morning we saw 2 cheetah brothers, lions on a kill, elephant, baby rhino and my personal favorite and first for me, the elusive caracal.  I am about to head out on the afternoon drive with Abel our ranger, so hopefully we will see more exciting animals!

I’ll leave you with some photos of our room.

Plunge Pool


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