Location:  90 kilometers from Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay on the N2 towards Grahamstown.

Date Visited: 9 -11 March 2012 (Summer)

Where we Stayed: Mark’s Camp, one of the three four-star lodges in the Game Reserve, this one specifically designed with families and children in mind.

What we did: We had scrumptious food, awesome game viewing from open vehicles with knowledgeable guides & fantastic African entertainment alongside great conversation and time together.

Recommendation: This is an amazing African weekend for a family who wants to do something very special.  The proximity to Nelson Mandela Bay and the malaria free environment makes it especially wonderful when traveling with children.  Lalibela comes highly recommended.

Website: Lalibela Game Reserve


‘For whom the bees have foretold greatness.’

Over the weekend I have seen this sentence again and again.

On a stunning postcard.

On welcome stationary.

On a simple questionnaire about quality of service.

‘What greatness do you envision’, I ask Lee as we drive from Mark’s Camp to Tree Tops.

Lee is showing us the other lodges Lalibela has on offer.  As we drive she is telling us the story of how this reserve came into being.  How it found its name and how it grew from a seed of desire into a place to which so many come to find a moment of African bliss.

‘Lalibela was an Ethiopian king who built a magnificent city with churches carved from stone.  He created a capital city from nothing.  The bees foretold his greatness & it came to pass.’

Perhaps some of this Lalibela’s greatness has already come to pass.

Perhaps some of it is yet to be realized.

The lodges are an interesting mix of Africa with artifacts, sculptures and photographs from across the continent adorning walls and shelves and secret corners, often surprising the curious visitor who takes time to drink deeply of the rich environment.

Each lodge has its own personality.

Treetops is an amazing semi-tented camp hiding in the tops of trees, creating perfect shelter for only ten guests with elephant and antelope grazing undisturbed below.

Lentaba Lodge accommodates a few more, but in a completely different atmosphere with old world charm and blazing fires.

We stayed at Mark’s Camp.

The attention to detail & the quality of staff astounded us.

‘We strive to excel at service and detail’, Lee explains.  ‘When all three lodges are completely full we’re hosting forty guests.  At all times we have sixty-six people on staff.  It is the only way to make sure we create a unforgetable experience.’

Cush spoilt our children.  She did arts and crafts with them.  She played with them, drew them into the world of Africa & game & nature.  On Saturday she prepared a special picnic for them in the middle of a beautiful field.  On Saturday night she hosted a sleep-over.  They made jewelery from biscuits, glittered wind-charm snakes and three-dimensional photo frames.  On Sunday when we said goodbye, our Pippa had to fight back the tears.  They shared something.  Loved something.  Enjoyed something.

And so did we.

The kids were never bored.

They never complained that they felt excluded.

Or weren’t welcome.

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On Saturday, as the sun showed itself from behind persistent rain clouds, we spent some time at the swimming pools.  The children screamed with laughter.

No one complained.

Yet, Nkosi was always close to make sure our every need was taken care of.

Another drink.

A dry towel.

A fresh magazine.

Meals were marvelous.

African cuisine.




Game drives were awesome.

During our weekend’s stay we enjoyed four game drives.  Lalibela has such a diversity of plants & animals, each expedition was different.

Across savannah grasslands we drove to valley bushveld, through fynbos to riverine forest and acacia woodland.

We saw elephant & buffalo.

Rhino & hippopotamus.

Lion & Cheetah.

Herds of blesbuck & red hartebeest & impala always in sight.

On Sunday morning we drove to a section of the reserve we had not even seen on any of the previous game drives.  This 7500 hectare-reserve is so spacious & diverse, I imagine there are still parts unseen & beauty undiscovered.

As we topped a hill Giraffe awaited us amidst large trees.

An entire herd.

‘This is the tallest land mammal’, explained our ranger & guide.

Along the way he had shown us how Khoisan people made rope & created extremely hot fires.

He showed us the tracks of cheetah which, although it look ‘cat’-like is a closer relative of the dog with claws that do not retract.

We saw zebra.

Black wildebeest.

We tasted the cool African air.

Smelled fynbos soothing our being.

On each game drive the rangers spent more than three hours sharing knowledge & beauty.

It felt like moments.

We met interesting people from Germany & Holland & Knysna.

‘Africa is magnificent’, the German couple blurted.

‘You are very fortunate to live in a country so beautiful, so rich & diverse and exquisite’, the Dutch couple say, as we say goodbye.

And I wonder how much of Africa we see.

Us Africans.

For as we drove amongst trees & wide blue sky I felt the pulse of the continent on which I was born and knew, despite my pale skin & the precarious way in which my forefathers came to this place, I am not European.

Saturday night, Xhosa dancers entertain us with traditional song & the dance of the maidens.

The rhythm resonates in my soul.

I am they & they are me.

It is sin that we live in concrete and brick, swept away on black rivers rushing relentlessly amongst high-rise canyons.

If only we could taste Lalibela more often.

We would be more.

Perhaps the greatness of which the bees have foretold is exactly this – making mere people more as the spirit of Africa is shared?

Categories: Weekend Destinations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

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29 thoughts on “Lalibela

  1. Andrea Wood

    Definitely an experience that not everyone can afford. But totally awesome if you could. Sounds magical.

  2. Marlene Deysel

    It is 06h00 and I am lying in my suburban bed. Having just read the blog I have to pinch myself back to reality, because suddenly I smell the fynbos, too. I hear the game ranger’s voice. I feel the rhythm of the
    dancers. Is that curried tripe with samp and beans? And oh, at 51 am I still young enough to make a glittered wind-chime snake? I just realised… I’m African as deep as the marrow in my bones and loving it!

  3. Moya Appel

    Oh what a dream, only our Most High Ever Present God could give us such precious animals to admire. My biggest dream is one day is to stay on a wildlife farm or ranch to be so close to nature. God created all of this for us mankind. Travelingtribe you are doing a awesome job in giving some of us the taste of a dream. Gods richest blessings to You and the Family. Please don’t stop posting your adventures so awesome. HugZ
    How Great is Our God, Sing with me, How Great is Our God, So that ALL will see, How Great is Our God,,,,,,,,,,,,

  4. absolutely idealic

  5. I would love my family to experience the rich texture of Lalibela

  6. WOW!!!! Your blog is amazing, so glad I’ve found it and can keep reading more in the future. And Oh My Word…. Lalibela sounds BEYOND AWESOME!!!!! I’d love the opportunity to go there with my family/friends and take loads of photos!!!!

  7. Reading the Travelling Tribe’s adventures, I just can’t get over the fact that we are SO AMAZINGLY BLESSED here in the Eastern Cape!!! People travel from every corner of the globe to experience what we have on our doorstep! Our very own part of heaven! Love what the German couple said…”Africa is magnificent!” AND IT’S OURS!!!
    Labilela, here we come….Another taste of OUR Africa!

  8. laa'iqah

    Thank you for encouraging the people out there to learn what we have to offer but most importatntly encouraging family time.In the world we live today iour family is the most precious things on this earth.

  9. Bernadine Hart

    Lalibela look absolutly amazing, good food, good accommodation and defintly a holiday for the whole family, parents and kids! It is very seldom that you get a holiday destination that is top notch with entertainment for the family! Well done!

  10. What a treat this would be! A celebration of Life in Africa!

  11. Thanks for this experience, felt like I was with you and your family… Looks like a perfect weekend away or even a divine Honeymoon spot 😉 he he! Whoever wins this – may they have the most fantastic time!!! We live in a beautiful country

  12. Esmeralda Minaar

    Totally awesome, God;s gift to mankind oh how we are blessed to be surrounded by all these wonderfull things God created…. i’m just so thankfull! Travelling tribe you are totally awesome, thanks for reminding us how rich and green the eastern cape is. Would really give my all to have such an experience, away from the hussle and bussle to just unwind with nature rite beside me!

    Africa the best place to be!!!!!!

  13. Theunis you create the vision and I can almost feel the air, smell the animals and dance to the beat of the african drums! It would be awesome to be on a wonderful outing such as what you have described! What an anniversary present (Mine is at the end of April – just saying)!

  14. Bronwen

    Once again the best part of my Monday morning is listening to your amazing experience. All I can say is that I am in awe – of God’s amazing work with creation and of the great things humankind can do with it! It is great to see people living their passion in such a way to encourage others around them. Listening to the man from Lalibela speak once again reminded me that ‘People with purpose live life with passion’!

  15. Sounds like an awesome and memorable experience for the family! Sometimes we forget how blessed we are to live in such a Beautiful country – so rich in culture and diversity! Its so unfortunate how few South AFRICANS get to taste an authentic, true AFRICAN experience!
    Hopefully my “tribe” will one day soon get to experience first hand the “greatness of Lalibela”!

  16. Petro Coetzee

    This looks like an amazing get away for a weekend! I can see that Theunis and his family had a blast! I really would like to surprise my hubby with a wonderful prise like this as he works very hard to keep the public save in the SAP and loves out door life.

  17. Tania

    I felt the heat of tears in my eyes and a knob in my throat as you described this place which is Africa. Africa is warm hearted and tender, it opened its arms to many and payed a price. Yet it’s spirit remains, and I can see that Lalibela captures that spirit. All around us in the Eastern Cape are places of extreme beauty, places which coax wonder out of our international guests! It seems like Lalibela coaxed the wonder out of you and your family Theunis. What a privilege it is to be born African. How priceless to have places like Lalibela that embrace all who come through their doors.

  18. Nomawetu

    You can tell just by looking at their faces that they had an awesome weekend!Wow it shows that we were meant to enjoy life and explore beauty created.

  19. Angeline

    It sounds like heaven on earth. It is as if you can actually put yourself in the story as it is told. Sounds perfect for family time away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Kingfisher FM thank you for sharing you awesome experience with us once again and thank you Lalibela for sharing with the world the beauty on our doorstep!

  20. Susan Simpson

    What i love about Lalibela is the look of oneness with the wild! even the pool is set on a beautiful dam undoubtably filled with croc’s! This is the real deal, the smell of the real African bush! Peaceful, Honest, Calm and waiting…. a perfect place to spend our wedding aniversary! or a honeymoon for deserving others…!!

  21. Kathy Majoor

    Lalibela sounds like a little patch of Heaven On Earth. We are truly blessed to live in Africa.

  22. Adele Fourie

    Wow again! It says alot if the children want to cry when it is time to go home! There is nothing like being in the African Bush and this only 90 kms from the Airport! I must admit, I am jeaslous that we can not afford this type of holiday, but thank you for sharing your experience with us!

  23. Janine Hoffmann

    Bee’you’tea’full Lalibela sounds sweet as honey!!! i would ‘bee’ more than happy to ‘spread my wings’ there. i’d get a real ‘buzz’ from natures ‘hive’ of activities going on at Lalibela.

  24. Leanne

    Awesome 🙂 Sounds like the perfect get-away… Makes one proudly South African – a reminder of the greatness that exists around us…

  25. Linda Rossouw

    Sounds like you had an incredible time, just the right blend of luxury moments with outdoor realities

  26. Reza Ebrahim

    Looks absolutely picturesque…a slice of Eden?

  27. lauren currie

    It looks amazing! Just what my family needs!

  28. Shevon Brymer

    My husband studied to be a game ranger and ended up working in Cape Town. He works so hard to provide for me and his 3 sons and soon to be daughter. Nothing would give him (us) greater joy than to teach and show our children the real outdoors and to enjoy it as a family!!!

  29. Pingback: Lalibela Too « travelingtribe

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