Location: 50 kilometers from Nelson Mandela Bay, in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Take N2 in direction of Grahamstown. Just past Blue Water Bay, take the turn-off to Addo. Kudu Ridge is approximately 22 kilometers before the village of Addo on the left hand side of the road.
Date Visited: 8 – 10 June 2012 (Winter)
Accommodation: We stayed in comfortable safari tents. Kudu Ridge also offers chalet accommodation. The tents are neatly furnished and each tent have its own bathroom with shower, as well as coffee-making area & veranda.
What we did: We lounged, talked, read, drove through Addo Elephant National Park & enjoyed the company of friends & family.
Recommendation: Kudu Ridge is very well positioned in proximity to the Addo Elephant National Park. It is well suited for a relaxed family weekend and perfect for conferencing or team building in groups of forty or less. There is no ‘self-catering’ option, which is nice, since Brian & Jenny create wonderful food and not having dishes or clean up is part of the fun of spending time at Kudu Ridge.
Website: Kudu Ridge
Tribe Special: Mention the ‘Traveling Tribe’ & claim free accommodation & meals for your own children under the age of twelve for a 2-night stay, for a family of minimum two adults, until the end of August 2012.
We met the Stevnsons at the corner of Westmead & Old Seaview Road.
It was just after two on this cold winter’s afternoon.
We’d been looking forward to this weekend. For both our families it would be a weekend of firsts. Our first time to travel together. our first time to stay in safari-tent accommodation.
Our children were ecstatic. They were looking forward to the opportunity to spend a whole weekend with Gary & Jane’s daughter.
Our worlds are somewhat different.
Ashleigh is schooled at one of our city’s well-known private schools. Our children find education under Zuko’s guidance in the privacy of our little wooden house on the not so little hill.
Gary & Jane both run their own companies.
Gary runs Organic Footprint.
Jane runs with Jane Stevenson & Associates.
Even though our worlds are somewhat different, our values or what we value is surprisingly similar.
This is something I’ve noticed more & more. People finding each other in what they value & not so much in where they come from or how they would be defined in archaic social terms.
We all value our children’s education.
We give expression to this in different ways, but our high regard for the education our children receive & our willingness to adjust our lifestyle, so that an exceptional education may be had, is something we share.
As is a love for our environment.
An awareness of how contaminated life & living could be.
Of how central relationship is to our being & joy.
How often this is less than what we hoped for & yet exceptional and surprising in other ways.
We all believe fiercely, but despise cheap lip-service & empty religiousness.
Or so we see our friends & experience them this weekend as we talk & share & discover throughout this weekend at Kudu Ridge.
That is the wonderfulness of spending time with friends & family in a place which is not familiar.
It is as if, in a new space, we are more relaxed, more willing to share and be honest & intimate.
It is only three in the afternoon as we arrive at Kudu Ridge.
The Jeep Wrangler which Vaughan hand-picked for us from his sales floor for this weekend, was an easy & comfortable drive. The powerful 3.8 liter engine accelerating easily. The automatic gearbox shifting almost unnoticed on a very short drive to a very lovely destination.
Brian & Jenny gives us a warm welcome.
They show us to our safari-tents & allow us to settle in.
We meet up at the main lodge area where we find steaming hot coffee & a warm fire.
Brian explains the menu for the evening.
Butternut Soup & freshly baked bread.
Kudu Fillet with hand-cut chips & fresh vegetables and salad.
Ice cream & chocolate sauce is desert.
The afternoon dwindles into evening.
We discover that coming to Kudu Ridge is returning to his first love for Brian & his family.
They’d been here no more than a year.
He spent years in the corporate world.
Before that he was a game-rangers for the Natal Parks Board.
That is what his heart hankered after winter after cold winter spent in offices & board rooms.
Now they spend time in nature.
Growing their flock of antelope.
Over supper we talk of the joy Brian & Jenny find in their refound passion.
The evening is cold, but the conversation is warm.
It is evident that this couple hope to come alongside corporates & companies as they create a fresh environment in which people can rediscover themselves, unwind, dream & plan.
‘What we have to offer, is a completely new environment, a place where people can get in touch with who they really are,’ he explains as we enjoy desert.
Then it is off to bed.
Our first night in our safari-tented accommodation.
The kids are tired.
Andrew, Brian & Jenny’s son who shares this dream with them, took the children for a discovery walk in the late afternoon. Then they fed the latest addition to the Kudu Ridge Family. A baby owl who was rescued & is being hand raised by the falconer who hopes to establish an activity with falcons & a very interesting pointer which he is training.
‘Soon we’ll be able to hunt with the pointer & a falcon. Man, bird & dog in the perfect collaboration. Perhaps it would unlock something in people’s minds of how we can collaborate in the workplace & in families.
In their family collaboration is certainly the norm.
The meal is cooked together. The guests are cared for alongside each other.
Saturday morning is slow & easy.
We hide from the cold in the warmth of our safari-tents.
Pippin makes coffee.
Zuko & I talk.
Of what we hope for.
What we dream of.
Then a hearty breakfast welcomes us in the dining room.
As we eat we decide to drive to the Addo Elephant National Park for the day.
Brian unfolds a map & shows us where he believes we’ll spot the lion & the elephant & the buffalo.
We enjoy a last cup of coffee & then we’re off.
We huddle together in the Jeep Wrangler. It is no fun to go wildlife spotting in separate vehicles.
The girls jump in the back.
Zuko & Jane take the back-seat with Maddi & Theunsie.
Gary & I take shotgun & driver’s position.
10 minutes later we’re in the park.
Despite the weather we see herds of elephant, Kudu, Zebra, Blesbok, Hartebeest & Blesbok.
A black backed jackal surprises us & a secretary bird takes notes on our arrival.
The drive is easy & comfortable.
The Jeep Wrangler as at home on tar as it is on gravel.
We stop for a late lunch at the Park’s Tiger’s Eye Restaurant.
Every time I stop here, I am surprised by the quality of service. The excellence of the well-trained staff & their friendliness & knowledgeably.
I am also astounded by the effort & investment we make as a country into conservation.
And I am proud to be an African in general & a South African in particular.
It inspires hope.
If we can get this right (conservation & tourism), then there is hope that we might get the other things right as well.
If only we would believe it.
Reach for it.
Imagine a South Africa in which our education & healthcare resembled the same excellence so very evident on this Saturday afternoon in one of our National Parks?
Gary orders a venison hotpot.
Jane takes the fish of the day.
Zuko chooses a vegetarian wrap & I go for the Thai Chicken Salad.
The children enjoy chicken nuggets.
We eat slowly.
Talking. Remembering. Sharing the moment.
We’re in no hurry. Kudu Ridge is a few minutes away.
We resolve to take an afternoon nap as we get home & we take our resolve seriously as the Jeep Wrangler brings us home to our weekend-destination, each family heading off to their respective tents.
The hunger for time together and conversation is too strong though & moments later we’re together again at the warmth of the fire at the lodge-area.
Conversation is easy.
We talk of how we came to where we are.
Of what we face from day-to-day.
Of what we hope for, dream of, for our own tomorrow.
The optimism in our circle makes me smile.
Where there is hope, there is hope.
That we would still be journeying.
That we may even one day find our dream a reality, as Brian & Jenny found it at Kudu Ridge.
The afternoon becomes evening.
Supper is served.
The children play pool & darts, hide-and-seek and truth-or-dare.
Theunsie beats me at a game of pool.
Then his mom.
At the dinner table we share stories from our lives.
Beautiful stories of exquisite experiences.
In the silence of a moment I think about how no one is talking about what they own. Everyone is talking about what they shared. A moment. An emotion. A disappointment. A breakthrough.
Perhaps we need to hang on to that more tightly.
That it is in moments shared that life exists.
It is late & cold when we head to bed.
The rain pours down throughout the night, but we sleep warm & dry in our safari-tents.
Even Maddi only wakes once for a midnight feast.
And then it is Sunday.
The day I always dread, for it signals the end of another journey.
And it always comes too soon.
Breakfast is intentionally slow this morning. Brian & Jenny & Andrew act like old friends who do not want their loved ones to go just yet.
The sun is out for the first time this weekend.
After breakfast we take a game drive on Kudu Ridge.
They show us the ‘Bus Bar’ created by Andrew. The excavation area where fossils were found. A Kudu & some Impala greet us on a clearing.
Brian talks with love of this wonderous new place they are transforming into a getaway for corporates & families as we drive along the ridge.
Then it is time to pack & greet.
Ashleigh still has a project to finish.
Zuko wants to stop at her parent’s before we go home.
We say our goodbyes.
And as we drive off in the Jeep Wrangler I remember moments shared & I hope for more.
For it is in moments shared that life unfolds.