Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Greetings for the Festive Season from River Bend Lodge



We would like to begin with a very big thank you to all of you who have supported us and contributed to our best ever year!
Your support is much appreciated……and we are continually doing our best to improve ourselves and thus your valued and constructive input is welcomed.


The Winter of 2015 will be remembered for being a wet one……one of the wettest on record for the Sunday’s River Valley.
The result was a magnificent display of yellow flowers in September that seemed to stay in bloom for ages, with some patches still being ‘on show’ at the beginning of November.
It’s really difficult to say exactly how many Elephant calves have been born this year…can we just say ‘plenty’? But to have a guess and put a number to it we would say around 20!...but probably upwards of that.
The Lions introduced into the Concession last year have settled in really well and we are getting regular sightings now.
We have experienced a remarkable upturn in sightings of the rare and elusive Black Rhino’s…..some breathtaking stuff. We urge all our readers to try and do something to raise awareness to the plight of these incredible creatures!!

There seems to have been a mini explosion in Buffalo numbers. A sighting of one of the 2 big herds (upwards of 120) grazing their way across one of the plains is a glorious sight to behold.
We were treated to some great sightings of not one, but two, families of Black Backed Jackals raising their whelps in really accessible spots along the main access road.
After the wonderful experience of watching a pair of Cape Robin Chats raising three chickens in the day room we are now really excited at the prospect of a pair or rare and threatened Knysna Woodpeckers doing the same thing in an old tree between rooms 5 and 6.

Whilst most of South Africa is in the grip of a potentially devastating drought we count our blessings on the rain for the condition of our veld. Some parts of Southern Africa are experiencing one of the driest periods on record….and we are seeing reports that the famous Victoria Falls are far dryer than usual for this time of the year.


We are happy to announce the arrival of two new members of staff.
Temwani Mngoma joins us a Duty Manager / Host / Sommelier and Nomvu Dlamini joins us in the Spa to pamper those of our Guests in need of a massage!



Chef Zayne continues to garner praise from all quarters with some wonderful innovations and taste sensations.

We have added some great new Wines to our Wine List, which continues to provide Guests with a good overview of South African Wines. We love to list Wines that one doesn’t find in the ‘local liquor store’ and rather showcase the ‘revolution’ taking place in our Wine Industry…….so welcome to My Wyn Cabernet Franc, Elgin Vintners Pinot Noir, Graham Beck Gorgeous, Haute Espoir  Gentle Giant and Black Elephant Vintners.
Rest assured we continue in our quest to bring you great South African Wines for your enjoyment during your stay.
We have also recently brought some South African Gins on to our listing….much to the enjoyment of many of our Guests if the comments are anything to go by.



Thursday, November 5, 2015

"The Xhosa Road to Manhood"


(A shortened version of a presentation we do, on a big screen TV, for guests at River Bend Lodge)

Somewhere between the ages of 18 and 22 (sometimes a little younger) a Xhosa boy’s family, decide that it is time for him to become a man.

This entails undergoing the rite of circumcision and a period of seclusion in the bush, with others undergoing the same ritual, for a period of 4 – 5 weeks.

This rite of passage takes place mostly in the months of June/July and November/December.

Traditionally the circumcision takes place on a Friday afternoon. The boy’s father will accompany his son out into a prepared area in the bush.
This area is known as iboma, and there will normally be other makwetha’s in the same area – dependent on how many are undergoing circumcision that year.

The circumcision is done by a traditional surgeon called an incibi.
No western medicine is used, and no form of anesthetic is applied.
After the circumcision is done the makwetha’s head is smeared with fresh mud made from the earth next to where he was when the circumcision was done.
A bucket of white clay will also have been prepared and this will be smeared all over the new initiates body. Once this has been done, the father, and other male members of the family, will build a structure in which the initiate will stay for his period in the bush. A fire is made inside the structure before the initiate goes in and this is expected to stay alight for the whole period of seclusion.
Once the building of the structure is complete the initiate will be fitted with a loincloth (usually a piece of blanket) and a blanket over his shoulders. Whilst this is being done he will receive instruction on the traditions of how to behave and what is expected of him whilst in the bush.
Once the clay and the mud have dried the father (or nearest male relative) will brush the mud off the initiates head.

The aforementioned white clay, known as ifuta, is an important aspect of the ritual.
For the first week in seclusion nothing, other than the water that rises to the top of this mixture, may pass the initiates lips. As a result the initiate smear himself regularly during that first week.
The initiates are not allowed any possessions other than a stick and a blanket. Food and other sustenance, which is regulated, are brought to them by a young boy known as a nqalathi.
During the seclusion all the makwetha’s will be attended to by one of the elders of the community who cleans and dresses the wound daily until it is healed. He will also assess when the initiate is ready to return to the community.

This is known as the umgidi and can be likened to a 21st birthday celebration.
The start of the umgidi takes place early on a Saturday morning when the initiates will wake up very early and await the arrival of the men of his family. He will be sent to wash in the nearest water and whilst he is away doing this the structure in which he has been living will be set alight and burned to the ground. Upon his return he will be naked and own no possessions. His body will be smeared with butter and he will be enrobed with a white blanket with a black stripe. The blanket covers his whole body and he will only see where he is going with the help of the burnt remains of the stick he had with him in the bush being used to open a slit in the blanket. He will thus be accompanied back in to the community with much singing, dancing and mock stick fights.

Back at his home the initiate and the nqalathi (who undergoes this last part of the rite with the initiate) are seated on the ground and given instruction by the elders. In the meantime the women will be preparing the homecoming feast.
After this initial instruction the initiates are moved into a small room adjoining the house or in the yard. As the enter this room the nearest female relative will be awaiting the initiate with a handful of red clay (known as imbola) that she will smear all over his head and give the initiate a slap on his face. The initiate and the nqalathi are confined to this room until late afternoon of the same day or early Sunday morning – when they are dressed in their new clothes and paraded around as new men. For six months after this they will smear their faces with this red clay and be dressed in semi formal attire. They are referred to as amakwrala.

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Saturday, October 3, 2015


“Do Elephants really starve to death when old?

No – at least not as you would traditionally use the word starve. Their teeth do not suddenly fall out rendering them unable to feed. Were this to happen, death would result within days. Elephants essentially only have two types of teeth. The tusks are the modified upper incisors used for procuring food but not feeding. They are the only teeth in the front of the mouth. They have two sets during their lifetime, the milk set being lost within the first year of life.
Then there are the so–called cheek–teeth – the molars (or molars and premolars according to some). An Elephant has six sets of these teeth in its lifetime. Sometimes a seventh puts in an appearance, but it is usually underdeveloped and of little use in chewing. Unlike the usual situation of teeth erupting upward from the jaw, these teeth erupt from the back of the jaw – effectively moving forward in a track-like motion. As they reach the front of the jaw, they fragment and fall to the ground in pieces. As the animal gets older, the skull gets larger as does each set of teeth.  The ‘track’ of the jaw is longer than an individual tooth so that at any one time there may be parts of 2-3 cheek-teeth in each quadrant of the mouth. Owing to the very diverse and high roughage content of the Elephant’s diet, the teeth are continuously worn down – more so in populations where the diet is dominated by woody material. When the last set of cheek-teeth is in place and it is being worn down with no set to replace it the food intake becomes less efficient, and over a period of time – a few months at least – the animal slowly becomes malnourished because it cannot sustain its bulk. It loses condition, becomes weaker owing to lack of energy, and slowly deteriorates to the point of either being preyed upon (very unusual), or becoming susceptible to disease (lowered immune deficiency), or more usually succumbing to death via stress-induced heart problems.
Their natural lifespan varies considerably based on a variety of factors, most notably speed of tooth wear which is related to diet, and the protein content of the available food (higher protein contents sustain for longer, even with rapid tooth wear). In the wild, their longevity can be assumed to be from 45-65 years (possibly a little longer as an extreme).”


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Dining Experience at River Bend Lodge...some insight!


(We suggest you click on an image to them view full screen)

Chef Zayne has been receiving some high praise of late, with comments such as:

"That was the best food experience I have had at any game Lodge I have stayed at in South Africa, with a well thought out Wine List".

"The food at River Bend Lodge is Michelin Star standard".

So we thought we would bring you some insight, in pictures, of what goes on 'behind the scenes', and examples of what's been on the Menu lately.

Chef Zayne Grobler...'passion is paramount'!

Fresh is key!

Straight out of the garden.

A fusion of flavours...

....with a French influence.

A selection of Wines... 

sought out

especially to enhance your experience!

Good Morning

Breakfast....before or after your morning Game Drive

Lunch keep you going!

....and Dinner.....

...a gastronomic experience!!

We look forward to welcoming you.

(All images the property of River Bend Lodge. Use only with permission)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Fine Dining Food and Wine Pairing River Bend Lodge

Food and Wine Pairing Dinner with Graham Beck and Steenberg Wines at River Bend Lodge

A group of Principles from Pam Golding Properties (Eastern Cape) held a two day Workshop at River Bend Lodge recently....and Dinner was a Fine Dining and Wine Pairing experience, where Chef Zayne Grobler planned and created a Menu to be paired with Wines from Graham Beck and Steenberg Wines. (Many thanks to them, and especially Nick van Woerkom for organising  the Wines)

Enjoy the images..!!

.....The Planning, Preparation, Blending, Braising, Tasting, Separating, Folding, Pouring, Tasting, Boiling, Chopping, Cutting, Opening, Steaming, Melting, Stirring, Plating, Serving, part.......

THE RESULT....!!!!

Cape Salmon, Pea Puree, Wilted Spinach, Pea and Coconut Mousse
Steenberg The Black Swan Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Duck Breast, Parsnip and Apple Puree, Compressed Apples, Danish Feta and Mint Puree, Shaved Cucumber, Duck and Honey Jus
Steenberg Merlot 2011

Lamb Loin and Lamb Breast Pie, Carrot & Cumin Puree, Rainbow Baby Carrots, Shiraz Jus
Graham Beck The Ridge Syrah 2012

Venison Loin, Red Cabbage Puree, Beetroot Brunoise, Shaved Baby Beets, Smoked Pomme Puree, Black Berry Jus
Graham Beck The Coffeestone Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Chocolate and Cointreau Delice, Dark Chocolate Mousse, Orange Gel, Navel Orange Segments
Graham Beck Rhona Muscadel 2013

Photography by Michael Price and Kate Ferreira (the Cellarmaster at Graham Beck Wines, Pieter Ferreira's daughter)
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