1. Dine in a renovated and unique sheperd’s cottage – Bushmans Kloof – Unforgetable Ambience!

This has to be the most romantic dinner venue in South Africa. A good half hour drive from the main lodge at Bushman’s Kloof this location is isolated and evocative.   The sweeping vistas of the surrounding Cedarberg Mountains encase this little piece of paradise.

 

The original shepherd’s cottage has been renovated and soft lantern lighting and candlelight warms the atmosphere. When my husband and I visited we experience the sense of vulnerability on the mountain side the weather had set in and the windows rattled in the wind. The roaring fire and thick stone walls encasing our soiree offered the true sense of warmth and protection from the elements outside. These memories I will never forget.  In addition to all the drama of the storm outside I have fabulous recollections of the exemplary red wine and a four course meal cooked to perfection this really was – wilderness and indulgence of the senses!  We were assured that with clear skies the star gazing from this point is incredible.

2. Leopard Tracking and Research at Phinda

As we left camp after coffee and muffins over the embers of last nights campfire there was a stark air of excitement as we set out with our Specialist Guide into the African Bush. Every now and then our guide would stop to check the telemetry kit to see if we were headed in the right direction. We felt as if we were sneaking up on them, once we knew their rough coordinates it was down to our tracker to pinpoint them, which was no easy feat as these cats love the thick bush that camouflaged them well. We would thoroughly recommend a visit to Phinda to any Leopard enthusiast as the opportunity to observe Phinda Private Game Reserve’s leopards with a specialist ranger and tracker team is an absolute gem. Leopards in the Phinda area and nearby conservation belts are protected but once these cats step over the line onto privately-owned game and livestock farms, of which there are several surrounding Phinda’s boundaries they are heavily persecuted.

 

This specialist safari offers a fabulous opportunity to gain an insight into the research carried out at Phinda. The team track the movements of the collared Leopards in the region. Recording their habits, frequent haunts and ultimately building a profile of behavior of these elusive animals. We were very fortunate that our stay coincided with one of the leopards’ collars to be replaced. We shadowed the team as they lured the cat to a specific area with raw meat before they sedated it, carried out into the open away from the thicket bush where the vets had a 20 minute window of safety to take physical measurements. It was intriguing to watch them collect DNA, blood samples and tests to establish the overall fitness of the cat. All the time it’s vital signs we constantly monitored, along with (of course) it’s level of consciousness!   Finally the collar was replaced, the team jumped back in the vehicle and we pulled away a few yards to watch the cat’s recovery.

 

This was an insightful and unforgettable part of our trip, one of our most memorable wildlife experiences and a must for any cat enthusiast!