Author Archives Vanessa

October 7, 2013

Big Bird in Africa

GGR secretary bird

A large and distinctive bird of prey, the secretary bird is said to take its name from the elongated distinguishing feathers on the back of its neck. These spatula shaped feathers are believed to give the secretary bird the appearance of an old-fashioned secretary who would carry quill-pens tucked behind the ears. More recently, scientists believe that the name is derived from the Arabic word “saar-et-tair”, which translates directly to hunter and flight which may have been mistranslated through the ages.

Secretary Birds usually pair for life and are faithful to their nest site. The nest is normally an untidy bunch of twigs placed in a fork of a tree. The nest will grow over time as more kindling is added.  Secretary birds raise two, occasionally three young on a diet of small mammals and reptiles. The secretary bird is an opportunistic feeder , prey includes hares, mongoose, snakes, lizards, amphibians, freshwater crabs, and birds up to the size of guinea fowl, as well as their eggs.

In South Africa, there is a considerable concern about the conservation status of the species. There has been a substantial reduction in population size and have vanished from several areas. The most likely reason behind this is the loss of suitable habitat, and power line collisions.

Gondwana Game Reserve hosts several breeding pairs that stalk through the long grass.  By setting land aside for conservation purposes, the protection of a dwindling secretary bird population is fostered.

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September 30, 2013

The Elusive Cape Leopard

Elusive and mysterious, this shadow-walking predator is just one of the species which reside on Gondwana Game Reserve. occupy a home range of between 120-250km2 and despite what many believe, Cape Leopards do not only prowl caves but rather find appropriate areas to rest as they move. Preying upon dassies, small antelope and mice, the Cape Leopard rarely includes group-living animals in their diet as they usually hunt alone.

With less than 1000 Cape Leopards remaining in the wild, Gondwana Conservation efforts are heavily underway. Regarded as a “problem-animal” (a damage causing animal) on farms within the Cape, the Cape Leopard is being largely hunted out due to their instinctual killing of livestock. With Conservation efforts being poured into the protection of these majestic predators, farmers and conservation groups are slowly but surely starting to find a common ground between the removal of these animals on livestock farms and moving them to reserves such as Gondwana Game Reserve.  In an attempt to catch a glimpse of this obscure predator as well as learn about their movements, behaviour and breeding, Gondwana’s wildlife team members as well as guides have started a monitoring project around these animals. Placing stealth cameras in areas which could possibly be home to Cape Leopards such as caves and rocky mountain slopes, caves alike are being scouted for spoor and scat as well as any indicators that they may have passed by. Previous attempts in monitoring  and tracking the Cape Leopard on Gondwana have resulted in findings of prey carcasses hanging in trees, spoor and scat.

Having been unsuccessful in our treasure hunt for a clear photograph of this mysterious predator thus far, efforts are still in the foundation phase. Until then…the hunt shall continue..

Written by Taylor Hawkins

Cape Leopard

Image: source

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September 26, 2013

Endangered Bontebok

One of the rarest antelope species in Southern Africa has found sanctuary on the plains of Gondwana Game Reserve. The handsome bontebok antelope naturally occur only in a little stretch along the southern coast of South Africa namely the Cape Floristic Region. Bontebok were hunted so extensively in the early 1800s by colonists that only 22 individuals remained. Overhunted and unprotected, the Van Breda, Van Bijl and Albertyn families of the Bredasdorp district enclosed their farms with stock fences to protect the dwindling population. Fortunately,  bontebok are poor jumpers and unlike antelope such as kudu and eland, scaling a 1.5m fence is too much effort.  By the huge conservation efforts of these three families, bontebok have been re-established in several conservation areas including Gondwana, and the current national population is well over 3000 individuals.

The Bontebok name is derived from the striking coat colouring which originates from the Dutch settlers that colonised the Southern Cape in the early 1600s.  The Bontebok has a rich coffee coloured coat with a purplish tinge. The face , rear and belly seem as if they have been dipped in a smooth white chocolate.

Gondwana currently hosts a small but growing population of these endangered animals and every birth marks a  significant contribution to conserving a species that we nearly lost.

Read more about our Gondwana’s Conservation efforts here

Gondwana Bontebok

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September 2, 2013

10 Reasons you will fall in love with Gondwana Game Reserve

1)      Tickle the taste buds

With a range of gourmet flavors from the freshest local ingredients we can source or grow, dining at Gondwana is an experience in its own right. Gondwana is very privileged to be able to offer the fantastic wines of the Cape, with food prepared by award winning chefs.

 Gondwana cuisine

2)      Walk or ride amongst the game :

With over 1000ha that is free of any potentially big dangerous animals, being on foot or on a mountain bike amongst comical wildebeest or lively sunbirds will add a twist to any conventional safari. Ambling along paths through the Fynbos can allow one to admire the smaller and often overlooked inhabitants.

walk amongst the Fynbos at Gondwana

3)      Floral showcase:

Situated in one of the most diverse regions of the world, The Cape Floristic region is regarded as a global “hotspot” of biodiversity. The fynbos biome is the smallest of the world’s six floristic kingdoms and the only one within the borders of a single country. With 9 600 recorded plant species in the region, 70% of them are not found anywhere else on the planet. September allows for displays of both winter and summer flowering plants. Pink heather blankets the valleys whilst proteas flaunt their bold colours on the plateaus.

 Floral showcase at Gondwana

4)      No game viewing traffic jams:

Viewing the big 5 whilst in a traffic jam can sometimes dilute a wildlife experience. Gondwana has a limit on the number of game drive vehicles on a sighting. This allows for guests to have sightings of animals all to themselves without interfering on an animal’s natural behaviour. .

No Game Viewing Traffic

5)      Rejuvenate the body

After exploring the Gondwana wilderness,  trade in your bush hat for a relaxing and indulgent Spa treatment in African style at Gondwana Spa. Gondwana’s Spa offers a full treatment menu utilizing the luxurious Africology product range which makes use of South Africa’s indigenous plants such as African potato, Rooibos and Aloe.

Rejuvenate at Gondwana Spa

6)      Location, Location, Location

Nestled between the towering mountains and coastline along the world famous Garden Route, Gondwana is easily accessible by road from nearby Cape Town or George.  World-class tourist facilities and attractions on Gondwana’s doorstep include championship golf courses, great swimming and surfing beaches and the attractive coastal towns of Mossel Bay, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.

Nauga Valley at Gondwana

7)      Junior Ranger Experience

Witnessing the awe in a child’s face as they see an elephant for the first time or catch a fish in one of the reserve dams is a truly gratifying experience.  Aspiring rangers can join senior rangers whilst the parents sip cocktails around the swimming pool.

Junior Ranger Fishing at Gondwana

8.) Conservation Projects

Gondwana has committed to preserve, enrich and rehabilitate the biodiversity and natural resources on the reserve. Endangered and threatened species such as Bontebok, cheetah, rhino, and Cape Mountian Zebra find refuge on the property whereby populations can grow to supply similar minded reserves with surplus animals. Gondwana has recently partnered with Conservation Global to contribute to a greater understanding of the region by carrying out much needed research.

Gondwana conservation

9)      Free Roaming Big 5 Game

Gondwana Game Reserve is the only free ranging Big 5 private wildlife reserve in the Southern Cape – home to the lion, rhinoceros, eland, red hartebeest, endangered Cape Mountain Zebra, springbok, kudu, as well as the elephant, among others. Gondwana saw the birth of 2 lion cub litters – the first born in the Southern Cape in over 100 years.

Lion at Gondwana

10)   Birding 

The region offers a diverse range of habitats and is home to approximately 300 species of birds, making it an ideal destination for bird watching.  The reserve supports healthy populations of sought after endemics such as the Cape Sugarbird, Orange Breasted Sunbird, Protea Seedeater, and Black Harrier.

Birding at Gondwana-Black shouldered kite

To have your own  love affair with Gondwana contact reservations@gondwanagr.co.za – +27 (0)21 424 5430

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August 14, 2013

Babymoon at Gondwana Game Reserve

The nursery is ready, the essentials have been bought and your cupboards are spilling over with nappies … and now the wait begins. Why not spend the last days as a twosome in a beautiful setting promising serenity and tranquility.

There is nothing like a babymoon – one last interlude of utter indulgence – and Gondwana Game Reserve is the ideal spot!

Situated at 4 hours drive from Cape Town along the picturesque Garden Route, Gondwana is an 11 000 hectare private game reserve, and the only fynbos reserve in the world, home to free-roaming Big Five game. Imagine gorgeous accommodation, an inspiring mountain setting, expert rangers, warm service, dreamy sunsets and five-star luxury.

Unwind in your luxurious suite at Kwena Lodge and discover a haven of beautiful soft furnishings, first class amenities, spacious bathrooms, with beds perfectly situated under skylights for star gazing and to take in the  breathtaking vistas of the Cape bush and mountain scenery.

Gondwana’s treatment room is on hand to offer indulgent pampering in African style for the mom to be, taking into consideration every need, desire and whim.  While she is relaxing and taking some much deserved ‘time out’, dad to be can enjoy a day of fishing or a mountain bike safari. Other wonderful activities on offer include daily game drives, golf safaris, birding, fynbos walks and much much more. Dining is also an experience at Gondwana with so many tantalizing possibilities on offer. Explore bush breakfasts, evening boma barbecues, elegant lodge meals, romantic picnics, and gourmet delights at scenic sundowner spots.

Enjoy the ultimate in luxury and exclusivity and create lasting memories before your next adventure begins. Visit Gondwana and enjoy a special rate of R1 500 per person per night, which includes accommodation in a suite at Kwena Lodge, daily gourmet breakfast, lunch and dinner, an afternoon game drive, a private picnic lunch (weather permitting), romantic turndowns and lastly a complimentary spa treatment for the mom to be to the value of R350 per stay and a fishing or mountain bike experience for the expectant dad.

For all reservation enquiries please contact Gondwana Game Reserve by email at reservations@gondwanagr.co.za or by telephone on +27 (0)21 424 5430.

For any media enquiries, please contact Robyn Elford at Nicky Arthur PR by email at ct@nickyarthurpr.com or by telephone at +27 (0)21 424 0384.

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July 30, 2013

Becoming a Junior Ranger on Gondwana Game Reserve

Lily Joubert had the most fun taking part in the Junior Ranger Experience. On the first day we set out picking unique fynbos flowers for her Mom Jackie who had to stay at the Bush Villa with the little one. During the experience she learned about the relationships between sunbirds and the F
ynbos flowers and how all the little creatures are dependent on the plants, and vice versa. We found some clear Kudu and Water Mongoose spoor, which we cast in plaster. During this, Lily learned about tracking, how to tell the direction an animal was moving, the speed, and some of the more common tracks found around Gondwana Game Reserve. After a short game drive to allow the plaster to set, we lifted the casts to reveal the perfect spoor.

The following day, was Lily’s Dad’s birthday. We went down to the safe zone where an incredible picnic was set out by the chefs. Before the picnic we all cast a couple of lines in the water. While Lily was practicing the perfect cast, her dad cast nice and far, and Lily got to reel it in. Mom had a turn and while casting a little shorter than the guys could boldly “advise” on, Mom Jackie managed to land a decent sized Largemouth Bass.

Kids of all ages are welcome at Gondwana Game Reserve. On arrival families will be informed about the Junior Ranger experience and their ranger will enquire about any special requests, dietary, babysitting or otherwise.

Kids enjoying the junior Ranger experience at GondwanaJunior Rangers at Gondwana Game Reserve

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July 30, 2013

Two New Elephant Calves born on Gondwana Game Reserve in the last 6 months

After a gestation period of 660 days, two of the resident elephants cows gave birth to two playful calves on Gondwana Gama Reserve.  The birth of the first calf on Christmas Day was celebrated by the mother through trumpeting and parading her new calf in front of Kwena lodge and then they disappeared for a few weeks into the 11 000 hectare Fynbos Reserve. Another calf was born just this May also with much excitement. Elephants much like people celebrate the birth of  young and join together in community to be present. After the maternal announcement of the second addition to the family herd, the new mother and calf separated from the other pair to strengthen their bond, but reunited with the herd after a short time.

Allomothering,  is when all the females in the herd help to protect and look after the young calves which is common in elephants. However, it is very rare that elephants communal suckle, where the calves can drink off any lactating female in the herd as it is usually not tolerated.  We have witnessed this communal milk sucking with Gondwana’s herd which is fascinating and indicates the pronounced relationship and connection in the herd.

Elephants are ecological engineers who have the ability to structure and shape their environments around them. Elephants have always been an important species in the ecology of the Southern Cape and this why it was important to reintroduce a small nucleus population into an area such as Gondwana that they historicallyoccupied. Through ivory poaching and conflict with humans, the last of the inhabitant elephant herds were shot out in the 1700s with a tiny relic population that hid from the hunters rifles in the darkness of the Southern Cape Forests.We hope this growing herd can play a role in bringing wild elephant back to the Southern Cape.

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July 29, 2013

Game on for design-conscious travelers at Gondwana Game Reserve

Game on for design-conscious travelers

Cape Town becomes the official World Design Capital in 2014, making South Africa’s Mother City a must-visit destination for chic travelers. Those looking to expand their city-break with a stylish Big Five safari will find that the five-star Gondwana Game Reserve  ticks all the boxes for those looking for a design-led retreat.

At this easy-access reserve – just off the Garden Route, four hours from Cape Town, luxurious accommodation fuses contemporary design with organic African art and culture, topped off with fantastic food and an unforgettable Big Five safari adventure. Comprising 11,000 hectares of privately-owned land, this western cape game reserve takes its name from Gondwanaland, the prehistoric super-continent that was slowly carved and split by tectonic forces into the continents as we know them today.

Guests will love the African feel of the lodge and garden route accommodation. Inspired by the nomadic Khoi-San tribe, the original human populations in the Mossel Bay area, the architecture takes its cue from a traditional African village. At the heart is Kwena Lodge with a fine dining restaurant, a bar/ lounge, a swimming pool and an open-air boma. Utilizing materials from nature, worn paths and stone steps lead to 14 stand-alone Kwena suites – a modern take on the original Khoi-San mud hut dwelling. The round suites have a thatched roof with a round skylight in the centre.

The design of Kwena Lodge mixes traditional and modern influences, resulting in a warm, stylish environment, where the stresses of everyday life are left behind. All interiors were planned by local designer Lynne K Interiors together with Gondwana owner Wendy Rutherfoord. The décor concept is clean and organic with splashes of colour found in the surrounding indigenous Fynbos vegetation. The curvaceous interiors follow the rounded building forms with barely any straight edges in any of the buildings.

The décor in the restaurant and bar/lounge reflects the nomadic lifestyle of the Khoi-San, who were “Cape Herders” and followed the cattle. For example, stumps are used as bar stools with hides over them for comfort; and ‘found’ items, including bone, glass and feathers, were fashioned into a room-dividing screen. Large calabash chandeliers that hang in the dome-shaped roof accent the room and create a romantic and intimate feel.

The interiors of the 14 Kwena Suites follow the contemporary natural feel with colourful African accents throughout. Furnishings are custom-made or sourced in South Africa. Headboards are made of ostrich skin and side tables are stumps topped with African fish basket hanging lamps that shine lights out of sticks. Traditional clay pot fires and an Afro-chic collection of skins, lighting fixtures and artworks complete the authentic feel.

The focal point of the interiors is actually the Great Outdoors – the unique mountainous Fynbos landscape can be seen through floor-to-ceiling glass doors and windows that give 180° views, allowing for game-spotting from the living room.

  

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July 24, 2013

Renegade Rondevlei Hippo – safely at Gondwana at last.

After a 5 hour trip from the Mother City, Gondwana Game Reserve welcomed a new hippopotamus to its current pod. After spending nearly a year attempting to capture this elusive animal, the young bull was eventually enticed into the capture boma on the 19th of July.

The City of Cape Town had to find an alternative home for the animal after he had escaped out of Rondevlei, which forms part of the False Bay Nature Reserve. Most well known for its wetland ecosystems that is rich in biodiversity and surrounded by a sea of urban developments. A 300m section of fencing was stolen from the reserve perimeter allowing a hippo cow and her newborn calf to escape. The young bull followed them but did not return to Rondevlei unlike the cow and her calf. The renegade hippo started frequenting residential gardens at night before disappearing into a suburban lake at dawn.

Hippos are considered to be one of the most dangerous animals in the world. The remaining animal posed a potential threat to the public that surround the waterbody, and the decision was made to relocate the animal. The Hippos in the False Bay Nature Reserve constitute the only population of this species in the Greater Cape Town Area and have played a major role in re-establishing animals into other conservation areas in the Western Cape.

We are monitoring the young bull’s adaption to his new surroundings at the Western Cape Game Reserve but he has not been an easy task to locate. With over 40 dams on Gondwana and sufficient grazing, the young bull should quickly establish his territory and home range.

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July 9, 2013

Mini-Moon Romance at Gondwana

Relax, unwind, and restore … 

A blissful African mini moon like no other

Planning a wedding is a stressful and often an expensive affair and when the big day draws to an end, there is often little budget left over or little time off to plan the big 2-week European honeymoon. It’s in this swirl of tulle and confetti that a new trend for urbanite couples has emerged – the ‘Mini Moon’. Mini Moons are usually enjoyed over a few days at a local destination that requires a self-drive option or a quick flight. Less travelling time also means more enjoyment at the actual destination of choice.

This type of getaway for romance is fast becoming more and more popular in South Africa, thanks to our diverse landscape and travel opportunities. And nothing says romance and luxury like the beautiful Gondwana Game Reserve. Situated in the picturesque Garden Route, Gondwana is a private game reserve, and the only fynbos reserve in the world home to free roaming Big Five game.  Gondwana offers a starry-eyed destination like none other. Think luxurious accommodation, an inspiring mountain setting, expert rangers, warm service, dreamy sunsets and Five Star luxury, and of course … all the romance in the world.

Gondwana Game Reserve offers a diverse selection of luxury safari lodge accommodation from romantic private suites to exclusive use villas. The honeymoon suite at Gondwana’s Kwena Lodge is a private, romantic and luxurious retreat. Beautiful soft furnishings, first class amenities, bathrooms to die for and four poster beds with soft hanging fabrics … throw in spectacular views from every corner and you may never leave your room.

However, if you can pull yourself away, enjoy a relaxing and indulgent spa treatment in African style at the Gondwana Spa and soak in the warm and nurturing qualities of the luxurious Africology product range, which makes use of South Africa’s indigenous plants. With true romance in mind, experience a treatment together in a double volume room or outside for a truly “au natural” experience. In addition, in room treatments for the ultimate in privacy and exclusivity are on request.

And when hunger calls, Chef Jakob Christoffel Nortier, known fondly as JC, is on hand to indulge all your senses with his wonderful creativity and fresh approach to gourmet cuisine. Experience bush breakfasts, evening boma barbecues, elegant lodge meals, romantic picnics, and scenic sundowner spots with gourmet treats as the sun dips behind the mountains. Gondwana Game Reserve also offers a number of wonderful activities including daily game drives and Big Five game viewing, golf safaris, birding, fynbos walks and much much more.

Mini Moon Package:

Prepare to be captivated and create memories of a lifetime thanks to your African mini moon at Gondwana, now only R9 000 for two people for three nights.

The romantic package includes

  • Three nights in the Honeymoon Suite at Kwena Lodge
  • Daily gourmet breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Complimentary sparkling wine on arrival.
  • Two game activities per day (morning /evening game drive or fynbos walk)
  • Private picnic lunch with guided fynbos Bush Walk.
  • A private breakfast on the last morning on your patio, as well as a romantic bush dinner experience.
  • Complimentary spa treatment voucher. (R250 per person per stay)
  • Special romantic turndowns to end off each day.

For all reservation enquiries please contact Gondwana Game Reserve by email at reservations@gondwanagr.co.za or by telephone on +27 (0)21 424 5430.

For any media enquiries, please contact Robyn Elford at Nicky Arthur PR by email at ct@nickyarthurpr.com or by telephone at +27 (0)21 424 0384.

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