Sunday, 9 March 2014

London to Limpopo {South Africa 2014}

Two weeks ago I was sitting in the most magical place on earth, my own idea of a little bit of Heaven. It was so good that I am almost reluctant to share this place with the interwebs, but I really do want everyone to know how amazing it was. This slice of awesomeness is known as Pitse Lodge, (pronounced Pit-see) in the Welgevonden Private Game Reserve in Limpopo, South Africa. 

Hamish and I spent three nights in this exclusive lodge with my oldest friend, Megan, her husband, kids and her lovely parents who I have known since I was a tiny tot - basically it was three nights with family.  Megan  takes all the credit for finding Pitse and doing all the booking and arrangements. Thank you Meg!

Just hanging out admiring the view

Pitse Lodge is an exclusive Lodge, which means that no matter how big your party is (it can accommodate up to 10 adults) - you will always be the only guests which results in your own personal and private bush experience - amazing right?  The rates are based per person per night and every single cent is worth it. From the staff welcoming you with drinks and refreshing face towels on arrival from every game drive to custom made menus and itinerary's, nothing is overlooked at Pitse. The Lodge is run by the (eagle eyed) ranger, Haydn and his lovely wife Christie and I could not adequately describe how accommodating and brilliant they are - they make you feel right at home from the get go and provide hospitality and service second to none. 

Haydn working his magic
Sherman (as named by Megan) protecting the entrance to Pitse. Isn't he a handsome fella?!
The accommodation is beautiful, the front part of the camp is not fenced off and the main eating area and swimming pool overlook breathtaking plains which were dotted with different animals during the duration of our stay, including Wildebeest, Hartebeest, Warthog and even the resident Elephant.  The 5 luxury thatch and stone sleeping lodges are enclosed in electric fence which certainly made me sleep a little more peacefully! Our lodge was stunning, a romantic sleeping area, beautifully decorated in traditional African prints and decor with our own private deck overlooking the plains. The lodge was fully stocked with tea, coffee, delicious home made rusks, cold drinks and water to keep us hydrated in that scorching African heat. The bathroom alone needs its own blog post, with both an indoor and outdoor shower and a big rustic claw-footed bathtub with unbeatable views and candles ready for lighting - I was in cleanliness heaven {if there is such a thing!}. 

View of the outdoor deck (no fences around this part) 
Strategically placed deck chairs to enjoy the magnificent view
Pretty great location to have a quick dip or, if you are an elephant, to have a nice refreshing drink of salt water...
Home for the duration of our stay - Lodge 2!
Lounge and Library for the guests to enjoy
On our short stay we were lucky enough to spot four of the big five, the only elusive animal was the sneaky, lesser spotted leopard.  Within about 2 minutes of entering the park, Haydn had stopped to point out a lone Buffalo and we soon realised that he had a serious talent for seeing past even the best of camouflages and spotting animals where I doubt anyone else would have. 

Spot the Lioness
One of the highlights of the trip was watching a Cheetah stalk and attempt to hunt two Kudu one evening as night was falling. Watching the graceful animal manoeuvre her way down a rocky ridge slowly and carefully, followed by hearing the commotion and barks of the Kudu escaping nosily up the mountainside as she made her move is something I am not likely to forget soon. This may also be due to the fact that after the Cheetah had failed to kill either of the Kudu, one member of our party suddenly alerted us (numerous times I might add) to the fact she had changed direction and was now running directly towards us. Being on the side of the vehicle that was closest to the now not-so-beautiful Cheetah I certainly did not try to climb over Hamish to hide. Not at all, in fact I was the picture of calmness {if the definition of "calmness" is shaking and squeaking like a mouse in front of a cat}. Luckily (for Hamish) the Cheetah soon realised the error of her ways and  veered away from us. The whole experience was a bit of an adrenalin rush and I loved it! It should be noted however, that, regardless of my dramatic reaction, at no point were we actually in any real danger from the Cheetah. 

Cheetah hunting

Another attribute to both Pitse and Welgevonden is the magnificent Rhino's.  We saw so many that by the end of the trip we were only stopping to view them if they were right on the road. As I am sure most of you are aware, South Africa is facing a massive Rhino poaching crisis with nearly three Rhino a day being poached in 2013. Needless to say, Welgevonden is doing a great job in the anti - poaching department and every now and then you can even spot some of the field rangers, tasked with protecting the animals, walking through the bush. 

The food needs a mention too. All the meals, bar the final dinner are eaten on the outdoor deck, with the most delicious menus including fillet steak, ostrich steak, home made breads, fresh salads, quiches,  chicken dishes, and delicious desserts. Christie made sure there was food that was suitable for the kiddies and the adults were served mouth watering dishes at every meal with personal preferences remembered - service like no other I tell ya!

Our magical "dining room"
On our last night we ate dinner in the outdoor Boma and this was simply the cherry on  top with a traditional South African braai (barbecue)  with a range of yummy meats and a host of salads and vegetables to complement the meat. My personal favourite was the stuffed mushrooms- oh my word, I think I ate about ten of them! After dessert, while we were munching on some fire toasted marshmallows, one of the staff members, Pieter, casually mentioned there was an elephant nearby. We had all seen the resident elephant numerous times during our stay, in fact on our first day at lunch he strolled up to drink out of the swimming pool, however this time, he was so close, he may as well have been drinking out of our wine glasses. Thankfully at this point in the evening we were chatting with Haydn and Christie and they were very quick to reassure me us that we were perfectly safe and told us what to do in the unlikely event that Mr Elephant did get a bit moody.  I personally think he just popped by to say thanks for visiting seeing as it was our last  night, I did appreciate the gesture!  

Did anyone else notice the Elephant?
This looks like the same Elephant that came to say goodbye to us on our last night, this is him on our first day saying "Hi!"

I honestly could not recommend Pitse more or rate it more highly. Whether you want a romantic weekend away for two or a family reunion for 10, it certainly has something to offer everyone!


  1. Looks awesome! A great read too!

  2. Lovely photos. I esp like the last landscape shot and the rhinos - although he seems to have dropped off something smelly behind him? Naughty rhino