Nested in the lands of the Garden Route, and just a few kilometres away from the Ocean, Gondwana is the perfect spot for the nature and luxury lovers. Should you want to see the Big 5 or just relax by the pool or at the spa, look no further…
As a “real game reserve” enthusiast, which means no tourists and unspoilt places, I didn’t really believe I would enjoy spending time in a game lodge in the middle of the Garden Route. I never would have though that this place I enjoy for its stunning seascapes, could be the home to such a beautiful game reserve, and furthermore, would not be an amusement park like so many in this region. As you come to Gondwana, you quickly forget you’re just a few kilometres away from Mossel Bay as the mountains covered in fynbos seem to go on forever, making it an incredible scenery. Finally, after about a ten minute drive, you can start seeing the small little Khoi San huts of the lodge, surrounding the overflow swimming pool.
With an exceptional 180-degree view, Kwena Lodge is the perfect spot for you to watch a stunning sunset, the water hole where the animals come for a drink and the milky way. Surrounded by bushes and grass, be careful not meeting an elephant family on your way back to your bungalow. Gondwana is the only free roaming Big 5 private wildlife reserve in the Southern Cape, which explains the close presence of the elephants but also lions around the lodge. More than ten species of antelopes can be found on the reserve, and of course the endangered cheetah and black rhinos (we don’t know the exact number due to security reasons). So not only is Gondwana the perfect spot to see these wild beauties, but the owners are also very concerned by wildlife conservation and decided to create the Gondwana Conservation Foundation for wildlife but also for the vegetation. By educating and training the local communities, and also thanks to the generous donations, they hope to make a difference and save the future of our eco system.
You can discover the Big 5 the traditional way, which means Game Drive with an experienced guide. Enjoy the early morning one, when the sun rises, or the afternoon one when the sun sets on the mountains and fynbos while sipping a gin & tonic or a glass of wine. For the adventurous ones, take a hike, during which the guide will explain everything about the local vegetation. The patient ones will enjoy the Birding as it’s one of Africa’s best region to spot them. 42 out of 53 South African’s endemic birds can be found in Gondwana, and who wouldn’t want to see the majestuous African Fish Eagle or Jackal Buzzard? And if you’re getting a bit tired of the traditional Game Drives, why not enjoy a Horse Riding Safari in this beautiful scenery of the Outenqua and Langeberg Mountains?
So yes, all that discovery program can seem quite long and tiring… Waking call 5AM during summer, a few drinks in the afternoon when the Game Drive is almost over, what a day!
So just because you’re in a luxury lodge, yes you can relax and take it easy, in three places: the pool, your room or the spa.
The spa offers different treatments, from the mani-pedi, massages to the facial, all done with the Africology product range using only South African indigenous plants. Our little favourite is the Happy Hippo Mud Wrap which includes a body exfoliation, massage and wrap. What a delight… Then take some time to relax in your beautiful room’s tub while looking at the waterhole before some drinks at the lounge bar in front of the fireplace while waiting for dinner.
For big families or if you feel like going to Gondwana between friends, take a look at the Bush Villas that have up to 4 en suite rooms.
Travel to Gondwana
It takes about 4 hours from Cape Town or 45 minutes from George Airport.
Although the Garden Route’s climate is more or less nice the entire year through, the best time to visit Gondwana is from March to May (Fall) or September/October (Spring).
Text: Nathalie Bardin
Photos: Nathalie Bardin & Jean Marc Lederman