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The call of the Wild

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With a visit to Pumba Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape, you will experience the essence of true African hospitality.

Originally the farm of historical figure Piet Retief, Pumba Private Game Reserve, almost two centuries later, still plays home to famous residents – a free-roaming population of rare white

lions.

As well as these striking animals, Pumba – situated just an hour’s drive outside of Port Elizabeth – boasts the other giants of the Big Five as well as hyena, cheetah, various species of antelope and of course, large populations of warthog, from which its name derives.

As a result you, as a visitor, are awarded the opportunity for some of the best game viewing in the country, as well as only the warmest of hospitality, with a choice of not one, but two luxury

lodges to choose from.

The Call of the Wild

While it is tempting to cocoon yourself in the comforts of your room, undoubtedly the most memorable part of any trip to Pumba is the excellent game viewing opportunities it affords.

Be sure to ask for Freedom as your game ranger – he will ensure that you stay warm under the snuggly ponchos and his stories and experiences will keep you entertained for hours.

From the elevated vantage point of an open top Land Rover, and under the expert guidance of the game rangers, you can look forward to watching majestic animals roaming free in the wild.

Bird lovers are equally well catered for, as are those who delight in sightings of the wild’s smaller inhabitants like tortoises, lizards and spiders. On a lucky day guests may spot an elusive leopard (part of the reserve’s Leopard Monitoring and Rehabilitation Programme).

Nothing quite compares though to seeing a white lion cub (a sign that Pumba’s White Lion Breeding Programme is meeting with success). We were treated to seeing the two lionesses on our first game drive – after Freedom spotted them (white dots) on the horizon. On our last game drive we ended our evening’s game viewing by coming upon the magnificent white lion himself. His brilliant colour and majestic mane shine even in the failing light of dusk and as he throws back his head and roars, you know that you have witnessed something truly special.

Water and Earth

You may choose to stay at either Pumba Msenge Lodge, a true bush lodge nestled in the midst of indigenous bush, or Pumba Water Lodge with its spectacular views over Lake Cariega – or indeed opt for several nights in each to make one holiday destination feel like two.

Msenge’s 11 glass enclosed bush chalets allow guests the opportunity to soak in the sights and sounds of the surrounding bush and perhaps have a dip in their own personal plunge pool, while

antelope graze nearby. Muslin bedecked four-poster beds complete Msenge’s classic “Out of Africa” aesthetic – with the modern addition of air conditioning, mood lighting and a rather large bathtub to wallow in, of course.

Guests staying in one of Water Lodge’s 12 thatched chalets can look forward to king-sized beds and luxurious bathrooms, but are likely to spend most of their time reclining on their private decks listening to the cry of the fish eagles, or cooling off in their outside showers or plunge pools as the hippos down below do the same.

Evenings in Msenge often find guests seated around a fire in the main lodge, swapping stories of the day’s game sightings or gazing from the main deck at an African sky choked with stars.

The same deck, where just that morning they may have spent breakfast watching a solitary white lioness stalking impala on the plain below. At Water Lodge, evenings are spent enjoying the view from the Main Lodge’s terraced deck or at the water’s edge enjoying a sundowner at the Bush Bar, while listening to the sounds of hippos harrumphing just beyond the pier.

Added Extras

In addition to the laid-back routine of life in the bush, guests at Msenge also have the option of a trip to its onsite bush spa for an added touch of pampering. The spa also boasts a well-equipped gym for those guests who may feel the need to work off some of Pumba’s exceptional cuisine.

Water Lodge boasts a fully equipped onsite conference room, making it the perfect spot for a busy guest to catch up on some work, or as a conference venue for outside groups looking for a quiet and picturesque location ideal for decision making.

A Feast for the Senses

The cuisine at both lodges more than lives up to the reserve’s five-star tourism rating and guests, as a result, can expect to feast like kings. Breakfast is a substantial buffet affair, complemented by hearty hot choices and steaming cappuccinos.

Lunch consists of light soups, salads and platters of gourmet goodies, while dinner is an elegant

experience where each perfectly conceptualised course follows the other. There is an emphasis on locally grown and sourced produce, simple dishes orchestrated with gourmet flair and attractive plating.

The lodge staff can recommend a selection of wines from Pumba’s extensive collection, while cheese boards and nightcaps around the fire are the perfect end to a memorable meal. ❐

For further information, contact +27 (0) 46 603 2000, email respumba@pehotels.co.za