I know I have mentioned this before, but Anton and I didn’t travel much before the kids came along. We literally spent 2 nights in Stellenbosch for our honeymoon and that was it. We then spent 1 night away for a friend’s wedding about 10 years after we got married but that’s all. Then we started this site 3 years ago which was our incentive to prioritise travel and really explore our country properly.
Leaving the kids at home was never on the cards which is why family travel was the niche we fell into. But after 3 years of travelling with the kids, I was starting to wonder if we would know what to say to each other if the children were taken out of the equation. It was only a matter of time before that theory needed to be tested and that time happened on the last weekend of September when we drove all the way to friggen Albertina, to spend 1 night at The Garden Route Game Lodge.
Why on earth would we drive for almost 6 hours to spend 1 night anywhere? Because that was what the voucher was for. The voucher that I won at the WTM media meet-up for posting a picture captured while exploring our gorgeous city.
Look, couple travel takes a little getting used to after travelling as a family for so long, but it was great to take some time out for just the two of us.
One thing I don’t generally do on our road trips, is stop along the side of the road. It somehow doesn’t feel very safe and the idea of getting the kids out of the car for a few minutes and then getting them back in the car again, is just not that appealing. I mean, they are great kids but they are kids and corralling them after setting them free just takes too much energy, when you have somewhere to be.
As a result, we don’t have all that many pictures of the road side stops or the stunning views from our road trip around South Africa. Generally speaking, we load everyone into the car (kicking and screaming most of the time), head off on the road and then only stop to take pictures again once everyone has unpacked the car, been fed and everyone has had a chance to stretch their legs/run off some energy.
Garden Route Game Lodge
The Garden Route Game Lodge is actually perfect for families. With the option to stay in a chalet or in one of their luxury suites, you will find that 1 night is not nearly enough to see and do everything (especially since it takes what feels like forever to get there).
Our prize included dinner, bed in one of their luxury suites and breakfast together with an evening and morning game drive. Nice, hey? And, thanks to a few stops along the way, we just had the time to check in, drop off our bags, take some pictures of the room and check in with the kids, before we headed out for our very windy game drive. Thankfully, warm, snuggly ponchos were provided and nothing could distract us from the vast plains and absolute beauty of the game lodge.
We got lost in the Kruger National Park and still didn’t get to see The Big 5. The Garden Route Game Lodge has all of them, and more. The most striking thing about the game drive was how comfortable the animals seemed to be around the car. They didn’t seem to be bothered at all, and we got pretty close! When I asked the ranger about this, he said that is was because they take care to not invade their space. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate a game lodge who understands the boundaries of the animals. It just shows so much respect and understanding.
We woke up before sunrise so that we wouldn’t miss any of the animals visiting the watering hole and we were rewarded with seeing the elusive hippos coming for their weekly dip. After dragging ourselves away from the view to get ready for the morning game drive, we almost missed the opportunity for the coffee and rusks beforehand as we were so distracted by all the animals grazing outside our window.
The game rangers are very thorough, so they try to find all of The Big 5 on every, single drive. Due to the threatening clouds on our evening game drive the night before, we headed back to the lodge before we managed to find the cheetah however, as you are assigned one ranger for your entire stay, he made sure we got a glimpse of the mom and her 4 almost fully grown cubs, the next day. We unfortunately couldn’t get close enough for decent pictures, but it was a stunning sight anyway. *Adds telescopic camera lens to the growing shopping list*
When you consider how much delicious food is on offer at both dinner and breakfast, the price doesn’t seem so bad. You could easily eat enough at both meals to skip lunch entirely. Also, there is so much to see that you definitely won’t get bored. I mean, you COULD lay in bed watching the animals graze, but why do that when you could swim at the lapa or go on a game drive or even treat yourself at the spar. I have yet to become jaded about game drives. And, if the photos are to believed, you could find yourself having a massage while watching the elephants play in the field below.
On our way there, I was very concerned that driving all the way there wouldn’t be worth it. I am happy to confirm that it was. Next time I would rather fly to George, though and drive the hour into Albertina. Unless of course it would be more cost effective to simply stay at the Game Lodge for an extra few days instead. Actually, that would be a brilliant option too. So, what are you waiting for? Go and experience it for yourself