Author Archives Vanessa

April 20, 2015

The Nonchalant Caracal – Rangers Diary

Near the end of our morning game drive on Gondwana Game Reserve, en-route back to breakfast at Kwena Lodge, I decided to make a small detour. Just then in the middle of the road we found a beautiful young, male caracal, walking very elegantly and relaxed. He paid no attention to us allowing us to follow and admire him for quite a distance.

While we were discussing the impressiveness of this feline member and just as I mentioned how lions should envy this little predator for being a far superior hunter, the young cat leaped into action. He pounced over the road into a nearby helicrysum stand, scurrying around for a fraction of a second and stopped. Turning around he revealed his prize, a nice big fat gerbil pinned in his jaws.

It was surprising to see him start feeding right in front of us, not concerned at all about our presence. A good couple of minutes went by, allowing us to admire this amazing species who are usually very shy and nocturnal hunters by nature. They are capable of taking down prey about three times their size and can jump three meters into the air to catch a bird in mid flight.

When he was done with his breakfast, he stood up, walked five meters away and lay down just staring at us. The resemblance to a domestic cat lifestyle was uncanny; it lay looking at us, distant and content after the meal, conserving its energy. This was truly a once in a lifetime sighting. By Field Guide, PG Coetzee

Caracal at Gondwanacaracal GondwanaCaracal and gerbil GondwanaCaracal feeding

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March 12, 2015

Conservation in the Western Cape: Preserving wildlife, protecting vegetation and uplifting the local community

 Situated in South Africa’s Garden Route, Gondwana Game Reserve is more than just host to a beautiful 5-star lodge. Set over 11 000 hectares, the property also takes great pride in placing focus on nature conservation.  The reserve is now home to the non-profit organisation, The Gondwana Conservation Foundation (GCF), upholding four fundamental pillars: The Protection of Endangered Wildlife, The Protection of Endangered Vegetation, Community Upliftment and Environmental Education.

With over 10 000 guests from around the world engaging at Gondwana, these important conversations become part of the safari experience and are spread through visitors’ powerful word of mouth.

Black Rhino Gondwana Game Reserve

Black Rhino

Protection of Endangered Wildlife:

The GCF places focus on the relocation and long term sustainability of the endangered rhino species, cheetah, bontebok and Cape Mountain zebra.  Through the provision of habitat and prey species, precise and consistent monitoring of the animals, extensive research and implementation and training of anti-poaching units, the foundation seeks to cover all angles of protecting these precious creatures.  Their flagship project, Rainbow Rhino Project initiative is specifically aimed at combating rhino-poaching on the reserve through skills and technology development.

The project has a 10 year plan of introducing 165 individual rhino into reserves across Africa and 108 trained anti-poaching soldiers. Through the use of a state of the art anti-poaching training facility and utilizing various technologies to enhance anti-poaching methods, the project ensures that rhino calves will be born into a safe environment.  Within this period it is estimated that over 550 rhino will be protected through the foundation’s trained soldiers.
 

Protection of Endangered Vegetation:

Gondwana Game Reserve is also home to one of the most critically endangered vegetation types on earth, fynbos. Forming part of The Cape Floristic Kingdom, fynbos is endemic to the Southern Cape of South Africa.  The GCF works towards the rehabilitation and promotion of biodiversity of the fynbos ecosystem. Achieved through specialised teams executing erosion control, removing alien vegetation, ensuring sustainable fire management and promoting water conservation within wetland systems, the programme is actively preserving one of the most unique environments in the world.  Currently the foundation is involved in one of the largest privately driven land rehabilitation programs within the Southern Cape. There are over 60 local individuals that have been employed within the program with the majority of the contracts estimated to extend over a six year period. 

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October 9, 2014

Gondwana introduces 800 new animals including an additional family herd of 5 elephant!

Garden Route, South Africa: South Africa’s biggest reserve in the Southern Cape, the 11,000 hectare Gondwana Game Reserve has kicked off the summer season with a bang with many exciting wildlife introductions taking place recently. Herds of Eland and Gemsbok have already arrived as well as hundreds of Blue Wildebeest, Springbok, Red Hartebeest and Waterbuck who also recently set hoof on the reserve. Several exciting large game releases are also on the horizon including a pod of hippo, and a new female cheetah, which is a critically endangered species. The new mammoth herbivores, including 2 adult female elephants and their 3 young, are settling in nicely and have met up briefly with the reserve’s resident herd of elephant.  And not to be out done, Gondwana’s pride of lion welcome two new cubs which were recently seen on game drive for the first time since their mother was denning.  These introductions have taken the reserve’s wildlife population to the highest density it has ever been and further cement Gondwana’s reputation as the leading Big 5 safari experience in the Western Cape.

Gondwana Game Reserve is the only free roaming Big 5 wildlife reserve in the Southern Cape.  Expert field guides reveal African wildlife to guests on game drives set in a spectacular Cape Fynbos environment surrounded by the Outeniqua Mountains. Conservation and sustainable management of the indigenous flora and fauna is a key objective. Gondwana supports some of the most critically endangered vegetation types in the world. These areas would have been under intensive threat if under an alternative land use. Green rolling hills and undulating valleys are blanketed in colourful fynbos, adding special interest to a Big Five Safari experience.

In addition to sustainable land management, proactive conservation efforts at Gondwana include a sustainable honey production programme as well as an Endangered Species Protection Programme. The reserve has invested in the reintroduction of species that have been on the verge of extinction including the endangered desert black rhinoceros, bontebok, cheetah and Cape Mountain Zebra, providing a truly unique safari experience and exhilarating wildlife encounters.  The vastness of the reserve, coupled with the area’s Mediterranean climate and terrain, make the land well suited to multiple species of game which are frequently seen by the game lodge guests. Book your stay to experience the breathtaking wildlife family of Gondwana Game Reserve first hand.

Elephant introduction Gondwana

Lucy Rutherfoord assisting with elephant release

elephant release on Gondwana

New Elephant herd taking in their new surroundings

red hartebeest release Gondwana

red hartebeest being released

red hartebeest after release

Home Sweet Home for Red Hartebeest

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August 12, 2014

Gondwana Celebrates World Elephant Day

Gondwana celebrates World Elephant Day today and recognizes the impact it’s herd has had on the Southern Cape.  Its elephant herd was established from 4 adult individuals who came from some form of confinement or limited space and needed to be released into a larger area allowing them to roam free, forage and interact naturally.  Gondwana has provided a sanctuary for these “orphaned” elephants for the last 7 years.  The successful release and rehabilitation process of these two adult males and female elephants has lead to the first two wild elephant calves being born in the Southern Cape in the last 200 years.  This now fully established breeding herd provides critical information for elephant conservation in the Western Cape of South Africa including habitat utilization and social dynamics.  With a greater understanding now of elephant in a Fynbos environment, Gondwana is excited to be introducing an additional herd this winter to join these iconic pioneers.

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June 22, 2014

Gondwana nominated for Conde Nast Readers’ Choice award.

“Thank you for nominating Gondwana for this fantastic award which puts the power in the guests hands!  For more than 25 years, Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards have produced the most trusted and comprehensive listings of your favorite hotels, resorts, cities, islands, airlines, and cruise lines. This year Conde Nast is eager to hear even more. Did you travel with family or friends, or were you on a business trip? To whom would you recommend your experiences, and was your trip worth the cost?  Results will be published in November.

Gondwana would appreciate your support in evaluating your experience with us on the Conde Nast website.The Readers Choice Awards are quite extensive, so you will need to be patient to get to Gondwana.  You need to start by clicking Africa, then South Africa and then Cape Town and/or Knysna.  You will then be asked general questions about these cities.  At this stage the questionnaire will ask you about hotels you stayed in and provide a list of nominated hotels for South Africa.  You can just select Kwena Lodge, Gondwana Game Reserve which is listed towards the end of the SA hotel list in the Western Cape section or also tick other hotels in SA you would like to rate.  You will then be asked questions about your experience.  After this they will ask you about flights, cruises, ski vacations, etc and you can select N/A if you do not want to rate any of these.  Thank you in advance for your time and support. http://www.cntraveler.com/vote/readers-choice-survey-2014

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June 22, 2014

Fantastic Corporate Rates & Custom Itineraries

Gondwana Game Reserve launches new Conservation Corporate Itineraries guaranteed to Wow, Inspire and Motivate

 

The award-winning 11 000 hectare Gondwana Game Reserve on the Garden Route has launched its new corporate conservation itineraries ideal for companies looking for an exclusive incentive or team building programme for 10 – 50 participants.

At Gondwana companies can inspire their top sales team or executives with a fun filled weekend in a Big Five game reserve. The accessible location of the reserve makes it a great choice for groups who want to enjoy a luxurious weekend in the wild and also give back to nature.  Situated a mere four hour drive from Cape Town and only 45 minutes from George airport, Gondwana offers luxurious and chic accommodation, delicious cuisine served in a variety of settings and exciting wildlife encounters in a spectacular fynbos and mountain environment.

Gondwana not only provides a luxurious safari experience allowing guests to get up close and personal with nature, but now offers the shared experience of conserving nature. Gondwana has created themed 2 night itineraries for groups focused on topics such as biodiversity, geology and birding.   A half day conservation project forms the heart of the itinerary, such as alien tree species eradication aka “Throttle the Wattle” to get everyone’s hands dirty and work up a sweat.  The team can then enjoy a well-deserved delicious bush braai followed by bush cricket or volleyball for some friendly competition.  Fun activities such as Bush scavenger hunts on game viewers are a big hit putting the whole group to the test where they must follow clues and complete obstacles such as paddling and blindfold driving led by their team.  The hunts require the group to apply their new bush knowledge including species identification and tracking.  Themed gifts are provided such as custom T Shirts and relevant conservation books to round out the whole theme. Dining experiences throughout the 2 days are delicious and fun including bush brunches, game viewer sundowners and elegant lodge meals.

 

Conferencing

Groups are welcome to fit conferencing into the itinerary at Gondwana’s boutique lodge. Lehele Lodge can seat 20 delegates boardroom style or 50 cinema style and offers ample breakaway spaces and outdoor areas with awe inspiring views.  The experienced staff handle all logistics from décor, media needs, office support, catering and guest entertainment to ensure an unforgettable event.

LuxuryPrivate Bush Villas on the reserve with 3 and 4 en-suite bedroom options, can be utilised for smaller, strategic sessions or accommodate break away groups. Due to the bespoke nature of the service offering at Gondwana, the team is able to tailor make overnight, full day and half day conferencing packages to suit the needs of any type of corporate retreat.

 

 Accommodation

Guests can choose to stay in either one of 14 stand-alone Suites at Kwena Lodge, a stylish and modern interpretation of the traditional African Khoi San village or one of the 15 spacious and luxurious 3 and 4-bedroom Bush Villas privately situated within the reserve.

Gondwana Game Reserve affords your company the opportunity to experience a wilderness corporate retreat like no other, whilst making a substantial contribution to conservation in the Western Cape.

Book now for the corporate group special, from only R1575 per person per night, including accommodation, breakfast, dinner, and a daily game drive for a minimum of 10pax. Groups are welcome to include the themed conservation itineraries into this Half Board package.  Terms and Conditions Apply.

Corporate Family “Birding” Weekend Itinerary

Corporate Conservation Package Breakdown 

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June 22, 2014

Kitting out our Boma!

Gondwana is enhancing its dining experience at the Kwena Lodge with all new custom equipment for the boma and dining room.  Beautiful table settings with colourful handmade African placements welcome guests as they tuck into our delicious South African fare.  Boma breakfasts are fireside with a spectacular buffet including homemade breads, muffins, and muesli as well as omelettes to order accompanied by local farm bacon and sausage.  New winter menus include fun lunch platters to share with small dishes of sticky pork ribs, Zulu cabbage, and  potato wedges to name a few.  Elegant plated lodge dinners of hearty South African soups and stews with delicious homemade bread, as well as other delectable entrees followed by cheese platters or something sweet!

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June 22, 2014

Winter Family Fun

Still wondering what to do with the kids this winter school holiday?  Why not visit Gondwana and take advantage of our incredibly affordable winter South African resident’s rate.  Gondwana’s Junior Ranger program will have your children forgetting all about their ipads and phones and having fun in nature, while gaining a greater understanding of the South African bushveld.  Gondwana’s family friendly bush villas are luxurious and comfortable giving your family space and privacy to enjoy each other and the awe inspiring surroundings.  Kitted with kitchens, DVD players, and expansive decks the whole family has space to enjoy and relax, which is not always possible in a hotel environment.  Delicious and healthy kids menus are available at lunch and dinner as well as fun bedtime stories and Junior Ranger packs with a custom made safari booklet.

So come get some much needed R & R and fresh air for the whole family and spend a couple of days at the picturesque Gondwana Game Reserve this winter. Its endless valleys of colorful fynbos will soothe and revive you and chase away any hint of winter blues.  Gondwana offers a warm and cozy break away in luxurious Bush Villa’s with delicious warm gourmet meals, cozy fireplaces, spectacular game viewing and our ever-popular Junior Ranger Experience for kids of 6 years and older.

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. Children will receive a fun Ranger’s backpack and cool safari booklet to fill in throughout their stay. During game drives and other South African safari activities with their ranger, kids will be taught how to identify mammals, birds, Fynbos species, and even stars. They will gain a greater understanding of conservation and our precious eco systems. They will be quizzed on what they’ve learned by their ranger and receive a level 1 Junior Ranger Patch and completion certificate, as well as a picture with their ranger for their safari book.

When Junior Rangers go to sleep, they’ll find a goodnight story and a yummy treat waiting for them. So all is sorted for the kids and while they are off on an exciting adventure, why not book into the Gondwana spa for a relaxing Africolgy treatment or cuddle up next to the fireplace in your Villa with that book you still haven’t had a chance to get to.

If fresh air and adventure is also what you crave then either join your kids on the Junior Ranger Experience or go indulge in one of our other exciting activities on offer such as Hiking, fishing, mountain biking and bird watching.

So do something for your family and your soul this winter and book your stay at Gondwana Game Reserve today. Special South African Resident rates are available on request.

Contact: reservations@gondwanagr.co.za – +27 (021) 555 0807

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June 22, 2014

Gondwana to Introduce 800 New Animals this Year

Gondwana has kicked off with a bang this game capture season with many exciting wildlife introductions taking place.   Herds of Eland and Gemsbok have already arrived with hundreds of Blue Wildebeest, Springbok, Red Hartebeest and Waterbuck to set hoof on the reserve in June and July!  These introductions will take Gondwana Game Reserve’s wildlife population to the 4highest density it has even been.  We also have several exciting Big Five and other large game releases on the horizon including a breeding herd of elephant, a pod of hippo, and a new female cheetah, which is a critically endangered species.

Gondwana has introduced a large family herd of Cape Eland.  In spite of its heavy physique, eland are remarkably agile. Being Africa’s largest antelope, bulls can weigh as much as 900kg. One of the most interesting characteristics of an Eland herd is that it includes a nursery for the calves. When threatened by predators, the herd forms a front with these large males taking the lead positions while the calves and pregnant females are protected behind the fortress of large males.

A family herd of twelve Gemsbok also known as oryx with their distinctive long dagger shaped horns and striking black and white facial markings have made Gondwana home in the last few weeks, in addition another 200 blue wildebeest are expected to arrive in the near future. These shaggy large herbivores are a favoured prey species by predators on Gondwana. It is expected that by introducing such a large blue wildebeest population, that pressure induced by predation will be suppressed through a reduced regulating effect. However, the equation wildebeest eats grass, lion eats wildebeest is not always as straight forward as expected.

The renegade cosmopolitan hippo bull recently introduced to the reserve has settled in well. He has learnt to deal with competition from other hippo bulls, and has learnt that lions and hippos do not sit around the same campfire. We have managed to find him some voluptuous ladies for some companionship. Two lovely ladies will be reintroduced at the end of May within his territory.

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