(In South Africa September is ‘Tourism Month’. As part of the launch, Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism Agency invited me to join them on a four day promotion, as their guest, discovering some more of this adventure province.)
The holler of contrast – this is what we experienced on our first day of exploring this adventure province with Eastern Cape Tourism.
We woke up at Meander Inn to the bustling sounds an smells of early morning at an old fashioned Inn, where travelers become friends as they trade and buy and promote and ply.
Unbeknownst to us, the day held excitement & solitude.
I’m without my Tribe on this trip. They’ve graciously allowed me to head out & explore this little bit of Eastern Cape. Perhaps we’ll be fortunate enough to come & explore together, the gems I might find along the way.
Uzi & Esti are my travel companions.
Uzi works as internal auditor for the Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism Agency.
Esti, represents St Francis Bay Tourism.
After fueling the VW Amarok, we head out of East London, towards Durban.
We’re not heading to Durban.
At Areena we’re met by Jarod who takes us Quad Biking on the resort’s reserve.
This is a family resort with chalets, camping & loads of activities on the river’s edge. Other than quad biking, they also offer zip-lining, canoeing, boating, walks, paintball – a lot of stuff my little Tribe would love.
Jarod takes us through the motions of how to operate the Quad Bikes.
We’re joined by a family from Johannesburg.
Their kids scream & laugh as we swoop up the hills & down the valleys.
They’re mesmerised as we meet Abby, the resort’s only male Giraffe.
What an experience.
Abby is an 8 year old fully grown Giraffe.
He was rescued & hand-reared.
He comes to us, as if we are old friends, smelling us, reaching down with his long neck to solicit a little bit of affection.
This is an African Experience.
Not the fake kind, so often orchestrated for international tourists.
An authentic one.
The Africa we live & have come to expect.
The Africa we love.
We spend two hours exploring Areena River Resorts Hills & Valleys.
From our open Quad Bikes we see Zebra, Blesbuck, Wildebeest & an assortment of smaller game. We even get a glimpse of their 7 other Giraffe, gracefully picking the softest leaves from tree tops.
Then we do lunch at the resort’s restaurant, before heading to Prana Lodge.
It is a quick drive to Prana Lodge, in the VW Amarok.
Here we are met by this 5-star Lodge’s very friendly reception staff.
Three beautiful ladies.
This is Africa too.
She is exciting & diverse.
Sophisticated & adventurous.
Prana brings us silence.
The rooms are luxurious & oppulent.
After refreshing & spending an hour reading, I head to the Lodge’s Treatment centre where I am met by Nom from Thailand.
Prana Lodge offers a comprehensive Thai Treatment Centre.
People coming from far & wide, to rejuvinate, reconnect, relax & listen.
While Nom treats me to a massage, my body relaxes & my mind empties of concern.
I think of Zuko, who should be here with me.
Of the beautiful life we share.
Of the stunning adventure which is our life.
Of new chapters, persistent hope, intimacy, relationship & affection.
Supper is a slow affair.
We’re joined by Gail, the owner of the Lodge.
We hear of her family.
Of a lifetime of holidays spent on the property.
Of children raised & finally getting away from Johannesburg to create the sanctuary they’ve always dreamed of.
The food is exquisite.
Prana Lodge receives day visitors, overnight guests, small executive conferencing groups.
Their 43 staff always ready to cater to the needs of a handful of guests.
I would imagine, a couple could spend a weekend here & go home reconnected.
A stressed out businesses-person could come here & go home rejuvinated.
With new focus.
We have to little opportunity to think, consider, read, in a very fast-paced, high-demand world.
Prana Lodge certainly offers the perfect environment for someone who is hoping to refresh & reach again.
Decor & furnishings are understated, yet oppulent.
Service is calming, yet perfect.
Food is couture, yet scrumptious.
The beach a minute’s walk away.
The silence & solitude stunning.
After supper I find my room turned down, my bed welcoming.
And rest engulfs me.
My soul tasting rejuvenation, after but a moment.