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Even after many trips to the wonderfully diverse Eastern Cape, I’m always unexpectedly surprised by the rewarding safari experience it offers, especially for families with little ones in tow … not only is it malaria-free but it allows you to combine a bush experience with a beach holiday on some of South Africa’s most beautiful and untouched shores. Inzolo is one of those gems that only sleeps 10 so is small enough to be booked exclusively for a completely private, family friendly experience. 

It’s just over an hour’s easy drive from Port Elizabeth airport to Inzolo Exclusive Game Lodge near Sidbury. The safari experience starts the minute you climb aboard the game vehicle and descend into the craggy valleys lined with aloe-dotted cliffs and lush, forested valley floors with Christmas beetles as your soundtrack and the air laden with the heavy scent of wild bush and cool undergrowth. Heavenly! Hidden below a dramatic cliff, and with each of its suites snugly nestled in the trees, I arrived to find starlings building a nest above my door and the bush alive with abundant birdlife. A quick peep inside before the game drive revealed an open-air bath (what a treat to look forward to later with heavenly Rain bath salts and a ceiling of stars!) and a generous four-poster with our favourite Mungo throws, inviting an afternoon of cocooning with a good read. I realized I could spend a week here… booking a Rain spa treatment or two and opting for some truly relaxing down-time in this beautiful bush retreat.

Set within 6 000 hectares, shared with Lalibela and with an interesting mix of terrain, it takes about 20 minutes to drive out of the valley and up to the plains so the safari experience is diverse. I’d opt for a long drive once a day to afford the opportunity of going deeper into the reserve, and then relax for the rest of the time round the pool and in the quiet sanctuary of the main lodge, where board games aplenty will keep you going for hours, and evenings can be spent around roaring fires or in the cosy boma lit with fairy lights and lanterns. Food was delicious, with some great vegetarian or gluten-free options and wines from small but excellent list of Lanzerac wines. 

What we love!

  • It’s small enough to book exclusively. Ideal for multigenerational family gatherings and even small weddings. 
  • That it’s only an hour from the endless dunes and beautiful river mouths at Kenton-on-Sea so you could base yourself here for a few days but also do a day trip to the coast.
  • The staff: they’re gentle and caring and nothing is too much trouble. It feels like home from the moment you arrive.
  • You can drive here easily from Cape Town and if travelling by road from Joburg, you can combine it with a stopover in the Karoo.

What you need to know…

  • When game viewing up on the open plains, it’s possible to hear the road if you’ve stopped and if the wind blows in your direction. Not a deal-breaker though.
  • Spa treatments need to be booked (love the Rain amenities) and you can do your bit for carbon offsetting and the environment and plant a Spekboom tree. Known as the ‘miracle tree’ it can remove up to 4.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, which is ten times more effective than tropical rainforest trees and 100 times more effective than a pine tree of the same size. Best of all, it’s a nutritious plant and can be used to treat dehydration. Please plant one when you visit!

Reviewed by Michelle Snaddon

 

 

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