A silence falls over the day, an earthy scent mixes on the cool morning air and I sense a familiar calm. It’s time to venture into the South African bush. My next few days are spent at Buffelsdrift Game Lodge, just off the famous Route 62 known as the Garden Route.
With a backdrop of magnificent mountains and a waterhole on the doorstep, Buffelsdrift Game Lodge is authentic, luxury tent accommodation offering an escape to something spectacular. This is the closest you will get to the wild of the Klein Karoo.
There are 25 free-standing luxury tents all offering en-suite bathrooms, private outdoor hot water shower, dual air-conditioning, digital safe, mini bar, hairdryer, telephone and tea and coffee facilities. Of these 25 luxury tents, nine are waterfront where from your sundeck where there is nothing between you and the water’s edge, you can enjoy sundowners and an early morning view of your free-roaming neighbours. The other 16 tents are horizon view that are set only a few meters away from the waterhole and provide an elevated view of the surroundings.
A fenced property, it is safe to stroll around the grounds and from your tent to the main lodge and restaurant. Game drives from the lodge with experienced rangers allow you to experience an array of wildlife including elephants, rhino, buffalo, giraffe, hippo and over 200 bird species.
The lodge is just a stone’s throw away from other attractions such as the culture-rich town of Oudtshoorn, the Swartberg Mountain Nature Reserve, the Cango Caves and the Gamaskloof Valley (“Die Hell”).
Giving the game drive a miss, I decide to relax on the main deck overlooking the waterhole with a glass of local pinotage. From my spot in the sun I can hear the familiar sound of hippos. Scanning the waterhole for any sign of these amazing creatures, I am thrilled to see bubbles followed by a nose, two eyes and two ears. The hippos have arrived. Watching them move around the damn entertains me for the afternoon.
The following morning I rush through breakfast, eager for the Elephant encounter. There are three African elephants that have been raised at the lodge and enables a breathtaking interaction experience. With a bucket of fruit in hand and my breath ready to be taken away, we make our way to the elephants.
Having seen elephants up close from a game viewing vehicle, the first thing that blows me away is the sheer size of these animals when actually stood on the ground next to them. I look up at the towering mass of wrinkles caked in dried mud and I am met by a big brown friendly eye lines with some of the longest lashes I have seen. To stare into an Africa elephants eye like that brought tears to my eyes with such a magical connection. As if feeling the same, the elephant lifts his enormous trunk and wraps it around me in a welcoming elephant hug. Unable to help myself, I give him a kiss on the trunk before rewarding him with a tasty treat of pear.
After the hands on encounter, we are able to walk with these gentle giant along the damn wall. I can see the elephants enjoy the interaction as much as we do, and cannot wait to get to the water and show off with a little play amongst the three of them. This by far has been my most memorable moment in South Africa to date, and I will never forget that connection and kiss.