In­zolo Ex­clu­sive Game Lodge

Eastern Cape, South Africa

Upscale Living Magazine - - Contents - By Heléne Ra­mack­ers Pho­to­graphs cour­tesy of In­solo and by Heléne Ra­mack­ers

In the heart of South Africa’s Eastern Cape prov­ince, idyl­li­cally lo­cated in a shel­tered val­ley, In­zolo Ex­clu­sive Game Lodge is best de­fined as the ideal bush home. With only four chalets, you will be as­sured of the best in ex­clu­siv­ity, lux­ury and ab­so­lute pri­vacy. “It is ei­ther an enor­mous tur­key or a lion with its leg up in the air”, our ranger Dave quips in his na­tive Scot­tish ac­cent. Hys­ter­i­cal laugh­ter fills the early morn­ing air and as we drive to­wards the ‘tur­key’, we no­tice it is, in ac­tual fact a li­on­ess, hav­ing none of the lion’s fer­vent at­tempts to mate with her, un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously kick­ing up a fuss by push­ing him away from her with her back paws. He dis­grun­tledly lies down next to her and pro­ceeds to fall asleep.

The crisp morn­ing air has taken its toll and ev­ery­one is keen to get back to the lodge with the wel­com­ing prospect of a hot drink and a warm fire. Our an­i­mal sight­ings have been as­ton­ish­ing – we saw a chee­tah with an im­pala kill, plenty of ze­bra, bles­bok, an ele­phant feed­ing and the most adorable baby gi­raffe, es­ti­mated to be about a week old with its very tall mother.

When own­ers Paul Lynch and Dave Hurr ini­tially pur­chased the land as a farm and used the orig­i­nal lodge as a week­end get­away, they had a shared vi­sion of turn­ing it into some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary. Dot­ted into the land­scape with the most breath­tak­ing views over the es­carp­ment and the val­ley be­low, In­zolo Ex­clu­sive Game Lodge came to fruition.

In­zolo isn’t just a ‘pretty face’ in the best sense of the word – the own­ers pride them­selves on the two spe­cial con­ser­va­tion ini­tia­tives that are on­go­ing – the in­ter­ac­tive buf­falo breed­ing project and the pro­tec­tion of the en­dan­gered Cape moun­tain ze­bra. The day we ar­rive at In­zolo, lodge man­ager Christina in­vites us to ob­serve an unusual pro­ce­dure where vet­eri­nary stu­dents wit­ness and as­sist, un­der the guid­ance of world-renowned wildlife vet­eri­nar­ian, Dr William Fowlds, the dart­ing and ges­ta­tion test­ing of a fe­male buf­falo. It’s con­firmed – she’s go­ing to be a mom! Buf­falo ‘daddy’ is un­aware of his pend­ing father­hood, munch­ing away at some green­ery in a feed­ing trough.

Af­ter this in­ter­est­ing view­ing, we head back to the lodge to en­joy the most scrump­tious high tea, con­sist­ing of de­li­ciously

pre­pared melt-in-your-mouth bil­tong & cheese sand­wiches, tuna & cheese sand­wiches, cit­rus tartlets, a va­ri­ety of sal­ads and Amarula cheese­cake for dessert. At­ten­tively served by hostesses Phumla and Yan­diswa, as well as bar­man Themba, you couldn’t wish for more po­lite staff.

Dave meets us in front of the lodge for our game drive. With over 16,000 acres of bush, you might not find an an­i­mal around ev­ery cor­ner, but you will be re­warded with some amaz­ing sight­ings. Down at the wa­ter­ing hole, we spot the sweet­est baby hippo, but they all quickly dis­si­pate into the wa­ter. The male starts show­ing dom­i­nance by ‘yawn­ing’ – show­cas­ing his huge in­cisors to the rest of the pod.

A chee­tah is on the prowl, look­ing for prey. Us­ing the game drive ve­hi­cle as cover, he walks right past us and seems to be aim­ing for a meal that would be too large for him to bring down. De­spite be­ing the world’s fastest land mam­mal, chee­tahs don’t make big kills as they, un­like leop­ards, are un­able to hoist their meal up into a tree.

Driv­ing back to the lodge, we en­counter a ‘road block’ in the form of a very large bull ele­phant, not want­ing to re­lin­quish his yummy fo­liage to move out of the way. We pa­tiently wait and even­tu­ally he saun­ters off to con­tinue his feed­ing frenzy. Tonight, we dine in the boma area and the at­mos­phere is elec­tric. Chef Se­bas­tian en­sures that there is food aplenty – sal­ads, soup and bread for starters and for main course, a va­ri­ety of meat dishes – veni­son, chicken, sausage and malva pud­ding for dessert.

The in­te­ri­ors at In­zolo are the hand­i­work of Cape Town firm Ar­ti­choke, blend­ing the per­fect mix of earthy el­e­ments into the lush green sur­round­ings. Our chalet is the ideal fu­sion of bush meets be­spoke de­sign, com­bin­ing mod­ern ac­cents with east African in­flu­ence. The pièce de ré­sis­tance is the free­stand­ing bath on our out­side deck, which my hus­band will­fully tries out. I opt for the invit­ing shower with the won­der­fully fra­grant Rain prod­ucts.

The sound of droplets on the roof wakes me in the early morn­ing and I ra­dio Dave to let him know that we will rather forego the game drive ex­cur­sion as the an­i­mals might not be out in full force. He no­ti­fies me later that the other guests have also de­cided to go out later and around 10am, we start our drive.

Lit­tle do we know that the tim­ing is per­fect – as we ap­proach a cor­ner in the road, we see him, the most ma­jes­tic lion with a mane that can only be de­scribed as a mo­hawk gone wrong. He is fiercely pro­tec­tive of his kill he has stashed un­der the over­hang­ing branches of a shrub. As we leave him in peace, he lets out a snarl, warn­ing us that this is his meal and he is not shar­ing.

The rain has abated, but it seems as though game drives are hun­gry work, even as spec­ta­tors. Apart from the homely at­mos­phere, we are ex­cited to get back to the lodge to tuck into the de­li­cious break­fast that will be wait­ing for us, ex­pertly cre­ated by chef Se­bas­tian.

What I look most for­ward to is sit­ting out­side on the deck, cap­puc­cino in hand, while my daugh­ter sips on her hot choco­late and my hus­band un­winds with his morn­ing cof­fee, look­ing out over the wa­ter­ing hole where an an­i­mal might stop by for a drink. Just an­other tough day in South Africa.­ *** Thank you to Sara Need­ham and Gil­lian Ger­net­zky from Nicky Arthur PR for ar­rang­ing our stay. Views ex­pressed are the au­thor’s own.

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