Saturday, March 16, 2013

River Bend Lodge ...a view from our Golfing visitors.

We recently hosted some members of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at River Bend Lodge whilst they were in South Africa on a Golf Tour. This is their comment about River Bend Lodge.
"Day 13 A drive to River Bend Lodge about 5 hours west of Fancourt on an excellent highway), a wonderful retreat on its own private game reserve of about 35,000 acres with unlimited access to the Addo Elephant National Park , a 440,000 acre South African National Park inhabited by every conceivable manner of South African wildlife. On arrival we immediately joined the afternoon game drive (4-7PM) with our very able guide Darlington and set out on a very comfortable off road bush vehicle to look for game, big and little. We saw zebras, all manner of local deer and antelope and most notable the Blue Crane, the national bird of South Africa. We arrived back at the lodge at 7Pm for a wonderful dinner at the Lodge.
Day 14 A wake up at 5:00AM (yes 5:00AM!) to set out at 5:30AM to find the elephants, which had not been located for about 2 weeks. Our fearless guide Darlington decided to try the far end of the Park, about a 2 hour drive on little used trails through bush and mountains. After searching for about an hour we located a herd of about 24 elephants; such excitement! They live in the wild on their own and did not appear to be at all concerned at our presence. We did have an encounter with their leader Constalin who was known to Darlington as quite aggressive. For him, we turned the bush vehicle around quickly and gave him all the space he needed! Given the distance to the herd we did not arrive back at the Lodge until around noon. Needless to say there was great excitement at our finding the Elephants!
After a wonderful lunch we had a relaxing afternoon by the pool until the evening game drive from 4-7PM. We sighted a black Rhinoceros from a distance, many other varieties of wildlife, and enjoyed an evening cocktail high watching the sunset from high in the mountains. We returned to the Lodge by 8 PM for another wonderful dinner.
Day 15 Again a wake-up call at 5:00AM for a 5:30AM start! We went to another Private Game Camp accessible to Guests staying at River Bend Lodge in search of Giraffes and sure enough after searching for about an hour located a “stack” (yes that is the correct term!) of about 24. They are a magnificent creature standing about 25-30 feet tall. We walked with them; they seemed very relaxed and curious about us but maintained about a 50 foot separation. Following morning coffee with them (a little different than the neighborhood Starbucks!) we set out to find a male Lion that had been sighted on the opposite end of the Reserve. Sure enough after about a 1 hour drive through mountains and bush again we sighted a male Lion! He certainly is King of Jungle; a beautiful animal about 4 years old. We also sighted his female companion relaxing nearby. There are about 20 lions in total in this reserve of some 35000 acres, so that will give you an idea of their elusiveness. A very successful morning! We returned to the Lodge about 10 AM for a wonderful late breakfast.
After an afternoon spent by the pool emailing and relaxing, and we set out for the afternoon game drive. After about an hour we came across 2 male Lions about 4 years old and a female of about the same age. The 2 males were relaxing in the sun and shortly began playing with each other, rolling around in the grass. The female Lioness largely ignored them. They are truly the most interesting animals. We then proceed along narrow mountain pathways searching for the majestic Cape Buffalo. After a few hours of fruitless searching we returned to the Lodge to a wine tasting featuring the finest South African wines and another most enjoyable dinner.
Day 16 Again a wake-up call at 5:00AM for a 5:30AM start! We went to another area of the Park in search of Hyenas and after about an hour’s drive on a most beautiful morning discovered a pack of about 6 in a clearing near a pond. They appeared to have a Warthog cornered and we thought we might see an actual kill but the Hyenas had just enjoyed the remains of another kill and were in more of a playful mood. They are the ugliest mangy looking creature! Just as we were leaving this area of the Park we got a call on the radio that Black Rhinoceros had been spotted near the Lodge. We hurried back and sure enough we managed to get within several hundred feet of this most remarkable animal. He was about 12 years old and weighed we thought about 3000 lbs. They can be aggressive so we kept our distance and very much enjoyed taking lots of video and photos. We returned to the Lodge about 8:15AM to enjoy another sumptuous breakfast.
After a very relaxing few hours by the pool at our room we returned to the assembly area for afternoon tea and departed on our final game search of the trip. Darlington had heard there were elephants spotted in the Addo Elephant National Park adjacent to River Bend Lodge so we set out to see if we could locate them about 4 PM after afternoon tea! While we saw one male at a distance the remainder remained quite elusive. There were however warthogs, jackals, and many other animal species that we saw. We returned to River Bend to enjoy another sumptuous dinner around 7 PM.
The Wine Country
Day 17 Unfortunately we are leaving River Bend this morning. However we did get to sleep in until 7 AM rather than the usual 5 AM! River Bend was the furthest point east we would travel on this visit and we are now heading back towards Cape Town. As it is an 8-9 hour drive to Cape Town we had arranged to visit Plettenberg Bay and stay overnight there at the Plettenberg Bay Hotel which is about a 5 hour drive. The Plettenberg Hotel is right on the water overlooking the Bay and is wonderful! If you plan on visiting request room 18! We did not get a chance to play there but Plettenberg Bay Golf Club is highly regarded."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

An Astrophysics Professor at River Bend Lodge

We recently hosted Professor Michael Bode and his family at River Bend Lodge. Professor Bode is the Director of the Astrophysics Research Institute at Liverpool John Moore's University, which is considered to be one of the world's leading authorities in astronomy and astrophysics. Professor Bode is also a past Vice President of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Some of us were fortunate enough to have some time with Michael, after dark, gazing at the heavens while he gave us a short talk on what we were looking at. Michael specializes in 'exploding stars' and we wish to thank him for giving us of his time and a very interesting talk!! This is what he had to say of his time spent at River Bend Lodge.

“We'd never been on safari before and didn't quite know what to expect. Our 4 days and nights at River Bend were however some of the most memorable we've had as a family. Each day was full of adventure and discovery with our guide Mikey. We had some very close encounters with the wildlife and literally never knew what would be around the next corner - his knowledge of the flora and fauna was unbelievable and his enthusiasm just infectious. 

Then there was the Lodge itself where we felt pampered and at home. Between the twice daily drives, and all the food(!) we also managed to tap into Michael's expertise to enhance my daughter's photographic skills while I learnt far more about wine in a glorious couple of hours with him (Michael Price) than several decades of quaffing had imparted. I thus felt the least I could do was show them, and some of the other staff, a few things from my own area of expertise in astronomy.

I've been to the Southern Hemisphere several in my career, and maybe I shouldn't be, but I'm always taken aback a little by the Southern sky. First of all, familiar things are literally 'upside down' to a northern European like me. Then there are the unfamiliar constellations and objects such as the Magellanic Clouds that are too far South to see from home. Finally, the Milky Way is even more glorious 'down there'.

We chose a dark spot in the grounds and looked up. The most obvious object was our own Moon, just past first quarter. Also easily visible was the giant planet Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system. Turning much further afield, to the stars, I pointed out Alpha Centauri, one of the nearest stars to the Earth at just over 4 light years away. Easily visible across the sky was the great constellation of Orion where the two supergiant stars Rigel and Betelgeuse clearly showed their distinctive blue and red colours respectively. These are stars in the later stages of their lives which are likely to go out with a bang in supernova explosions. In between them, I pointed out Orion's belt and sword, with the latter being the illuminated part of a giant cloud of dust and gas that covers that whole region of sky but most of which is invisible to our eyes. In that cloud, new stars are being formed. 

Stretching across the sky was the Milky Way, the diffuse band of light that is in fact the Galaxy in which we sit, comprising around 200 thousand million stars - a giant spiral structure over 100,000 light years across, with us circling our star the Sun some 30,000 light years from our Galaxy's centre. Finally, the faint blotches known as the Magellanic Clouds off to one side of the Milky Way are in fact small satellite galaxies of our own. Light from the larger of the two takes over 150,000 years to reach us. There was lots more to see, but by now it was getting late, and we had to be up bright and early for our final drive, so we said our goodnights and turned in.”

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

River Bend Lodge at ITB Berlin

Our Manager ...Jayne Barlow, along with Lesley Anne Cruywagen and Robyn Harvey are at OTB in Berlin for the next few days.

The River Bend Lodge Team can be found in Hall 20 on the Show Solutions Stand, where they will be available daily from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm.

Any bookings to make an Appointment can be sent to:

Our Team look forward to seeing you.