Aug 22 2008
It wasn’t only going to be food and wine during our trip around South Africa, since we felt that in this country, a safari should definitely be part of the experience. We actually did two, at Blaauwbosch and at Kariega Game Reserve. And both game reserves, it must be said, fully deserve their five star statuses, although they’re completely different in their approach and the feeling you take home from them.
What they have in common is a superb level of service, very attentive without being obtrusive, wonderful and luxurious lodges, stunning views, and a highly skilled, easy-going staff. We were fortunate to have two fantastic rangers at our safaris, which in our opinion really does make a difference when you’re staying at a game reserve. Not only because of the amount of time you spend on game drives, and you want to see and learn as much as possible about the animals in the area, but the social element in between really is just as important.
At Blaauwbosch, Tyrone was our ranger; experienced, patient, and clearly hugely enthusiastic and passionate when it comes to the animals and the surroundings. And the exact same words can be used when describing Jo Oliver, our English-born ranger at Kariega, who definitely played a big part in the all-round experience for us as well.
The main difference between the two game reserves originates from something completely different, and crazy as it may sound, it has to do with the landscape and density of animals. Kariega clearly has the upper hand here, so the guarantees you have in seeing a huge variety of animals is a lot bigger here. However, as fun as that may sound, there’s something to be said for the element of search you encounter at Blaauwbosch. The excitement of actually finding wild game due to your own endeavours, assisted by an experienced ranger and tracker, all in very rough terrain, and discussing your findings over a great bottle of wine during a gorgeous sunset.
Kariega is the lusher and more accessible reserve, with a huge range of different animal species almost up to the point you can see them from the front porch of your lodge. Nothing wrong with that, and a definite must for the wildlife enthusiast, but with the experience at Blaauwbosch it felt a little ‘too easy’ to us sometimes. On the other hand, would we have done the safaris in a different order, our sentiments may have been entirely different.
No negative opinions about either reserve therefore, because we had a truly wonderful time at both Blaauwbosch and Kariega. Among others, we had a chance to see two cheetah families on a combined hunt for springbok, we saw giraffes and wildebeest cantering across the plains, rhinos and hippos slowly grazing or taking their afternoon naps, and maybe most impressively, had various elephant encounters. Our meeting with an elephant family at sunset was one of the most impressive experiences, and really brought across the true African outdoor feeling.
And coming back to our main theme of the trip, it wasn’t too shabby on a gastronomic level at these two game reserves either. Both have stocked wine cellars (of which we enjoyed wines from renowned estates like Boschendal, Boekenhoutskloof and Forrester Meinert) and great game dishes for dinner. You will not be disappointed with the quality during breakfast or high teas either, so you are really well catered for in all respects during your stay at these reserves. Compliments to the chefs and kitchen staff are therefore truly deserved.
Summarizing, for us it has been a truly majestic experience to spend a total of 4 days at these game reserves, and we would like to thank all the staff for their wonderful service and hospitality. A huge recommendation therefore, if you’re ever in the South African Karoo; visit Blaauwbosch and/or Kariega and be amazed yourself.
Maurice van Bussel