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Koffylaagte Game Lodge

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The adventure began when we left the picturesque drive on the R75, some 90km from Nelson Mandela Bay, for the gravel road to Koffylaagte Game Lodge. As we slowly progressed along the gravel road, the stress of the day slowly disappeared. It was night already, and at one point we stopped and turned off the car lights – the vastness and blackness of the Karoo night all encompassing. The road to Koffylaagte Game Lodge was an adventure all on its own.

Nestled in a ‘laagte’ at the foot of a mountain lies the lodge, named after it’s rich history as a stopping point for ‘koffee’ by travellers and traders of long ago before the last leg of their journey to Port Elizabeth. Koffylaagte Game Lodge and Tented Camp, in the Karoo Heartland is now owned by Cem and Jayne Kumrai, the same owners of the award winning Cape Flame Guest House in Summerstrand, and Lodge on Main Guest House in Main Road, Walmer.

The lodge has been under the management of a firecracker young team, Francois Muller, an experienced game ranger, and his fianc?e Karlien Killian, a five-star chef, for almost a year, and caters for conferences, weddings, company team building, families, couples and friends wanting to ‘get away’. Koffylaagte Game Lodge and Tented Camp is for the SA market. It offers affordable luxury by combining 3 star self-catering and 4 star full board service.

The original farmhouse, now restored, offers self-catering accommodation perfectly geared to families with children, and the Hunters Lodge offers the four-star luxury rooms, all overlooking grassy lawns, rock pool and the boma for fun, social get-togethers. A kilometre away at the foot of a mountain is the Kofylaagte Tented Camp, this one geared to the self-catering guests – and braai’s are allowed! A short distance away are the three Kofylaagte Luxury Tents for those who want to enjoy a bit more four-star pampering, with panoramic uninterrupted views of the Zuurberg Mountains in the distance – where we stayed.

Our party of two was warmly welcomed by Karlien and after a chat, enjoyed with a refreshing welcoming cocktail we proceeded to tuck into a decadent three-course meal of Smoked Chicken and Avo stacked on a Caramelised Onion Tarte Fine topped with herb Mayonnaise starter, Karoo lamb chops atop beetroot mash, buttered Baby Marrows, and rounded off with decadent Peppermint and Caramel Fridge Glasses. Mncedi offered us drinks and soon we felt overjoyed and enchanted by the Karoo hospitality and Karlien’s renowned cooking!

Our beautifully appointed luxury tented chalet was discovered after the gourmet meal, and soon after unpacking we were unwinding on our deck overlooking the valley with a cup of coffee. Again we switched off the lights and slowly became accustomed to the dark. A cacophony of crickets and night noises became evident as we marvelled at the vastness of the Karoo night. I was no longer stressed!

We woke to a fresh and sunny morning with spectacular views, and soon were enjoying a delightful breakfast under the shade of a thorn tree in the garden next to the lodge. The morning turned into a rather hot autumn day, and we enjoyed a refreshing swim in the rock pool overlooking the valley. The Game Reserve offers a variety of activities including night and day game drives, walking trails, quad bike and horse back safari rides, archery, a level four 4x4 trail, sauna and rock pool. After a perfect light lunch we were taken on a most exciting game drive on quad bikes – what an adventure!

The 1800 hectare Game reserve is home to 22 species of antelopes, white rhino, buffalo, giraffe, zebra and many small mammals, small predators, primates like baboon and vervet monkey, game birds, water fowls and birds of prey as well as a diverse Karoo flora resembling a rich succulent garden.

We set off at about 4pm, and spent the next three hours exploring and marvelling at the sights, sounds and abundance of wildlife. The white rhino and mountain leopard managed to evade us on this trip, but we saw fresh droppings and spoor evidence. We saw a 70 strong heard of Impala, flowing like a river through the bush, mixed groups of Common and White Blesbuck and a family of giraffe posing close-by. At one point we lay in wait for an unsuspecting group of Black Wildebeest, when we were surprised by an up-close encounter of a magnificent pair of buffalo grazing a few metres away in the bush - rather thrilling.

Back at the lodge we were warmed with a glass of Full Cream Sherry and relaxed in the entertainment area, equipped with pool table, satellite TV (perfect for those sport enthusiasts) and self-help bar. Another gastronomic feast was prepared at the hands of chef Karlien, who trained in Stellenbosch. This evening we relished in our meal of delicious biltong soup starters, Karoo Venison Canneloni rounded off by Karlien’s totally decadent, and now renowned, home-made choc-chip ice-cream on chocolate fondant, oozing chocolate sauce.

We ate by candlelight as the lodge joined in the Earth Hour initiative, and took a break to gaze at the vast black heavens filled with sparkling stars – a site not ever to be experienced in the city! A relaxing nightcap next to a mesmerising log-fire in the lounge rounded off a splendid day before we retired to our chalet for the night.

After enjoying a balmy breakfast on the sprawling lawns the next morning while trading experiences with fellow guests we reluctantly packed our bags for our return to the city. Feeling like we had been away for a week and revitalised by the Karoo air, outdoors and the heart warming hospitality, we bade our attentive hosts a sad farewell, but realised that we would return soon to this idyllic game reserve which is the prefect weekend getaway for locals.