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White Elephant Bush Lodge

The bush lodge consists of a central dining area under thatch, a fully equipped kitchen, swimming pool for those seriously soaring temperatures found here, a further two lounges, and seven en-suite chalets dotted around well-kept gardens frequented by warthogs. One of these chalets sleeps four people, the rest two people. There is also a self-contained cottage with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, open plan kitchen and lounge within walking distance. The chalets are well appointed with linen, towels, and overhead fans. The price works out to roughly R500 per person per night sharing, is self-catering, and game drives and fishing are extra. If you are booking out the entire place and it’s not during peak periods ask about specials.

Although the bush lodge is self-catering, there are a options that will lighten your load which includes paying for a cook, and if you like you can email the lodge your grocery list so everything is there neatly packed away in the kitchen for when you arrive.

The Pongola Private Game Reserve is 10 000ha in size with nine owners on this property where, although there are no lion, is unique as the bush is rimmed by Lake Jozini. Activities are aligned to this environment, so one can go tiger fishing in the morning and game driving in the afternoon.  White Elephant, owned by the Kohrs family who have been there for almost as long as the mountains, is in the South of the Pongola Game Reserve which is situated near the Swaziland borer and easily accessible from the N2  from Durban or Johannesburg.

Whenever I read about a reserve that has leopard but not lion, I feel as though my chances of seeing cats are practically zero so was pleasantly surprised that we encountered a female leopard on a game drive here. It was a rare sighting most certainly and we had all but given up before the elusive cat made a brief appearance. There are buffalo, elephant, rhino, hyena, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, warthog, 12 different antelope species, and more than 350 bird species. Although we saw antelope, rhino, and giraffe, the elephants were clear on the other side of the reserve and we didn’t have the opportunity to see them. The animals were not prolific, and there were long stages of driving through the bush without seeing too much, but in this vast area, it is not always easy to spot game. Our ranger ensured that every minute of the game drive was fascinating as he gave us all sorts of good information about the animals that enhanced the trip.

We drove down to the water’s edge of the lake and here it seemed the warthogs and antelope were having the time of their lives darting around. There were ostrich on the shores in the midst of a mating ritual which was somewhat spectacular although an unusual sighting in a game reserve. The beautiful sunset set the sky alight in all shades of orange and pink imaginable bringing our first day’s adventure to a close as we headed back to the camp to spend the evening around the fire singing, imitating the sounds of animals - with some of us better than others - and deciding how one really should pronounce ‘duiker’.

The following morning some of our party woke up before sunrise to head to the lake with the guide for tiger fishing, while the rest of us decided to have a late start, laze about the pool and look onto the bushveld watching birds and even enjoying the sighting of a shy duiker that came into the lodge gardens. Game drives, bush walks, and boat cruises
are available making your stay one as active or as relaxed as you choose.

Dr Heinz and Mrs Debbie Kohrs, owners of the lodge, are the founding Trustees of Space for Elephants (www.space4elephants.org), which speaks to their passion for the bush as well as commitment to conservation. It was in the early 1950’s that Heinz’s father known as Kallie Khors, bought the farm Leeuwspoor here. Primarily a cattle farmer, he was also a great naturalist, preserving and carefully managing the little remaining game species on the farm. As early as 1963, when conservation of wildlife on private farmland made no economic sense, as there was no demand for hunting or tourism, Kallie Kohrs was awarded the Natal Parks Board Conservationist of the Year trophy. It was during this period, when Ian Player was chief warden of Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve, that Kallie Kohrs made the request of 10 warthog for re-introduction on to Leeuwspoor which was granted and the ‘Return of the Wilderness’ commenced.

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