As dusk gave way to darkness, we hurtled across the rough terrain in our Land Cruiser in search of the lion that had been spotted there earlier. He had been evading us for a while. Suddenly, we stopped. There he sat majestically, staring into the distance, mere metres away from us. Then he began roaring repeatedly, marking his terrain to all and sundry.
The following morning, as we set off on our morning game drive, dawn began to break in the African bush. It was cold but we were excited at the prospect of encountering more wildlife. The blanket of mist covering the valley began to lift. The frost began to melt. An elephant strode across the horizon against the rose-tinted sunrise hues, while another came to quench his thirst at our swimming pool. A lion roared in the distance, and the jackal sounded an alarm call. I was in my happy place.
We were in the Amakhala Game Reserve, in the malaria-free Eastern Cape of South Africa, 70 km away from Port Elizabeth. Our home there was Hlosi Game Lodge , a family-friendly safari lodge in the Lion Roars portfolio.
The lodge consists of six suites and eight luxury safari tents built along the curve of a hill. Each one is designed to capture the spirit of a bygone era while providing contemporary luxuries, like electric blankets, air-conditioning and mini-bars.
Our two bed-roomed family tent boasted panoramic views of the vast plains. We had a spacious main bedroom and a twin bedroom for the children, with a shared bathroom in between.
The bathroom had an outdoor shower and a luxurious bathtub overlooking the grasslands. Outdoor decks, perfect for sun downers and game-viewing, surrounded the tent on three sides.
The elegant main lodge combines thatched roofs, dark wood and leather furnishings, wooden boardwalks and warm fireplaces. It comprises a dining room, several lounge areas, a library and a bar area overlooking the swimming pool and the waterhole where wildlife often came to drink. And if you want to upload your wildlife sightings to social media, complimentary wi-fi is available.
We watched in awe as a mighty pachyderm stood at the pool across from us, furling and unfurling his trunk as he drank his fill. Our fellow guests revelled in the opportunity to get some great selfies with the elephant!
As it is fenced, Hlosi Game Lodge welcomes children of all ages. Those under 12 are included in the "Cubs on Safari" programme which includes age-appropriate activities. There is a play room with toys, games and DVDs and an outdoor play area. Babysitting services are available and so are children’s menus at mealtimes. There were several families there, during our stay, and everyone seemed to be happy.
Our days consisted of 3-hour morning and evening game drives followed by hearty breakfasts and dinners respectively. During the game drives, we would stop at scenic places for drinks and snacks. In between game drives, we relaxed in our comfortable rooms and watched the game while ensconced in our warm beds. We saw a parade of zebras, red hartebeest, and warthogs from our room alone. I was also told about another guest who, just a few months ago, had witnessed a lion killing a warthog from his room.
The 8500-ha reserve itself is spectacular - lush and green even during mid-winter. Previously cattle-farming area, the reserve was formed in 1999. It encompasses some of the most breath-taking scenery and ecosystems in the region. Rolling hills are punctuated with steep ravines, bushveld valleys and meandering rivers.
This wonderland is home to free-roaming Big Five, cheetah and many other animals and birds. We saw all of the Big 5 except for the elusive leopard, of course. We also saw jackals, gemsbok, eland and much more. Civvy, our ranger, was entertaining and informative. Even though we had been on so many safaris before we learnt a few things from him. He was also great at including the children in the experience and joking with them.
If you don’t have the opportunity to stay over, Hlosi Game Lodge also offers game drives for day visitors. Other activities include night game drives, stargazing, birding, in-room massages, bush walks, archery and fishing.
A sojourn in the bush is the perfect panacea to everyday stress and problems. The beautiful vistas, clean air, wildlife and wonderful silence of the wilderness will leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. At Hlosi Game Lodge , your children will also be able to experience this with you.
We flew from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth, picked up our rental vehicle and drove to the lodge, just over an hour away.
Alternatively, the lodge can assist with airport transfers.
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