Es­cape to the Eastern Cape: In­zolo Exclusive Game Lodge

Fairlady - - TRAVEL -

In­zolo is where five kinds of veg­e­ta­tion con­verge: for­est, fyn­bos, grass­land, thicket and renos­ter­bos.

I’ve only ever been to the bushveld up north so I didn’t know what to ex­pect of the Eastern Cape’s of­fer­ing. I was blown away – by many things. Firstly, how dif­fer­ent it is to the dry veld I’d grown to know and love. The lush green shrub­bery and fields are much more jun­gle than dry land and that’s be­cause – as Dave, our knowl­edge­able ranger from In­zolo ex­plained – In­zolo is where five kinds of veg­e­ta­tion con­verge: for­est, fyn­bos, grass­land, thicket and renos­ter­bos. It’s quite amaz­ing to watch the sun­set and think about that for a sec­ond – how rich the nat­u­ral habi­tat is – as you sip on a fyn­bos-in­fused gin and tonic!

The team at In­zolo ap­pre­ci­ate this priv­i­lege and put a lot of ef­fort and time into con­ser­va­tion. They’ve launched two spe­cial projects: the buf­falo breed­ing ini­tia­tive and the pro­tec­tion of the en­dan­gered Cape Moun­tain Ze­bra, cre­at­ing a spe­cial en­clave for them to live and breed in. It’s al­ways great to en­joy the wildlife around you when you know it’s be­ing taken care of and pro­tected.

The lodge it­self is taste­fully dec­o­rated with de­tails like fish bas­kets as lamp­shades, in­ter­est­ing art and lux­u­ri­ous touches in ev­ery room. One of my favourite ar­eas was the wooden deck with a view over­look­ing the re­serve and a wa­ter­ing hole/mud­bath where the ele­phants come and play – which they of­ten did around teatime.

See

The game drives were al­ways spec­tac­u­lar – spot­ting any of the Big Five never loses its magic – we saw lions, rhi­nos (!!!), ele­phants (very close up!) and buf­falo. But what I loved most about exploring the Eastern Cape wilder­ness were all the lit­tle de­tails Dave could share. I learnt about the fork- tailed drongo’s trick of mim­ick­ing alarm calls of an­i­mals to steal their food, how ba­boons com­mu­ni­cate im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion about their sex and age through a scent gland at the back of their feet when they do a kind of karate kick, and about the mas­sive hamerkop nests that can take gen­er­a­tions to build.

Viwe and I went on a sun­rise drive with Dave one morn­ing, (to­tally worth the early wakeup!) to see if we could find marsh owls in the grass. We didn’t spot any, but it was such an ad­ven­ture wading through the marshes and lis­ten­ing care­fully for their calls.

The pro­lific bird life at In­zolo is also a ma­jor draw­card. Last year, a group of bird­watch­ers were lucky enough to spot a dwarf bit­tern!

Savour

When you go to In­zolo, pre­pare to feast. Chef Se­bas­tian cre­ates mem­o­rable meals with in­gre­di­ents grown in the lodge’s very own veg­etable and herb gar­den. Stand­out dishes for me were the slow-cooked spring­bok served on gourmet samp risotto, as well as the earth-roasted beet­root. This can be en­joyed with a se­lec­tion of SA wines from top es­tates in­clud­ing Lanz­erac and Jordan. An­other un­miss­able treat is the droë­wors pro­vided in each chalet.

Few things come close to the bliss of en­joy­ing an ice cold beer around the boma. The fire was crack­ling when we re­turned from our af­ter­noon drive, so we could rel­ish the evening fall in the bush, ush­ered in by the unique sounds of bee­tles, birds and other small crea­tures.

Two other unique touches I have to men­tion: one, the de­li­cious wel­come drinks and steamed cloths Themba, the ex­cel­lent bar­man, had ready for us each time we ar­rived back from a game drive – he sur­prised us with a dif­fer­ent con­coc­tion ev­ery time. And two, the branded stain­less steel bot­tle/ flasks each guest re­ceives upon ar­rival. This can be used as a wa­ter bot­tle through­out your stay and is both a keep­sake and a smart green ini­tia­tive by In­zolo to re­duce the need for plas­tic bot­tles. I’ve been us­ing mine as both a cof­fee flask and re­us­able wa­ter bot­tle since re­turn­ing home.

Soak up the seclu­sion

The lay­out of the lodge makes you feel as though you are com­pletely alone in the bush. There are four pri­vate chalets lo­cated away from the main lodge area. The luxe bath­rooms, with show­ers with a view of the bush, are a great place to en­joy the soli­tude. And I loved hav­ing my morn­ing cof­fee on the bal­cony, look­ing out and lis­ten­ing to the still­ness of the bush.

The plunge pool was an­other dreamy spot. It looks out onto the strik­ing rock­face that in­spired the In­zolo logo. Park­ing off on the main deck area with a book was pure bliss. A young nyala male came right up to the edge of the lodge to see what we were up to, and it was so spe­cial to see such a cu­ri­ous, ma­jes­tic crea­ture up close.

This pic: We spot­ted th­ese beau­ties on a sun­set game drive. In­set: El­lies getting up close and per­sonal.

Fan­tas­tic food and drinks, spec­tac­u­lar sun­sets, awe-in­spir­ing views, spe­cial en­coun­ters with ma­jes­tic crea­tures in­clud­ing the Big 5, a fab­u­lous boma, lux­ury ac­com­mo­da­tion, pri­vacy… In­zolo ticks all the boxes of a rest­ful re­treat in the wild…

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