Garden Route Road Trip – Safari at Pumba
After two wonderful nights at Vilaqua in Plettenberg Bay, we continued our road trip towards the Eastern Cape, a leisurely two and half hours’ drive, and our next stop: Port Elizabeth.
We stayed at the Beach Hotel which is right by the sea on the promenade, but it’s not at the beachfront where you would go swim. First impressions of the area are not great - Port Elizabeth is not a pretty city, but entering the hotel we were warmly greeted and our stay was very nice. The rooms are spacious, and the food and service was exceptional.
From Port Elizabeth we continued to our first safari lodge, about one hours’ drive from the city. During the next 6 nights we stayed at some new safari lodges and also revisited some of the lodges we’ve already beenworking with for many years.
Needless to say, it is “trial and error” like with any holiday booking and this is why we take such pride in only working with hotels and lodges that we have personally visited, as some just do not deserve the rating they receive. We get reminded so often that basics such as good service, a smile from your waiter and cleanliness can never be taken for granted, no matter how much you are paying for your accommodation.
Our first night on safari we stayed at a lodge we chose because we had heard good things about it, and it was well priced. However it was a complete disaster. I will not mention any names, but be sure that we will not be working with this particular lodge in the future. This highlights again the importance of regularly visiting the safari lodges and hotels that we work with, and why we only work with lodges that we have stayed at and enjoyed.
From “the lodge that shall remain unnamed” we had a short drive to Pumba. We were naturally still a bit disappointed after the previous nights’ stay but as soon as we arrived at Pumba Water Lodge we realized that this was going to be a completely different experience.
Safari at Pumba
We received a very warm welcome by the lodge manager who proceeded to show us around the lodge. Pumba Water Lodge really is one of the most beautiful and luxurious lodges in the Eastern Cape. Our rooms at Pumba where absolutely fantastic - large and open plan, with fireplaces and amazing views overlooking a dam. All the suites at Pumba Water Lodge also have large decks with private plunge pools. It really does not get much better than this!
It was soon time for lunch, which was an absolutely fabulous meal, served on the deck overlooking the dam. There was even a herd of hippos sunbathing in the distance.
After lunch it was soon time for our first game drive at Pumba and we were all very excited. But first our daughter Olivia (aged 14 months) was introduced to her babysitter for the afternoon, whom she straight away connected with, so we could all go on the game drive knowing that she was in good hands.
Our game ranger Daniel was fantastic and he made a special effort to keep Emilie (aged 6) entertained and interested. We had a great game drive and had some amazing sightings of white lion and also saw beautiful White Rhinos.
We returned to the lodge for an amazing dinner by the fireplace and then it was early to bed for all of us. It is unbelievable how tired you feel after the thrill and excitement of a three hour game drive followed by eating and drinking the rest of the time!
The following morning at 07:00 (not quite as early as in the summer months) we once again headed out for a game drive and we were treated to some amazing game viewing once again. It seemed that all the game was out this morning! We had one of the best elephant sightings I have ever had as well as plenty of white lions! Our game ranger also went out of his way to make this a really special experience for Emilie, she even sat in the front seat with Daniel and got to radio in to the lodge advising we were on our way back and hungry for breakfast. A very thrilling experience for a 6 year old! For the parents you just cannot relax and enjoy the marvels of the bush if your children are not happy.
When we got back to the lodge we were served a great breakfast and then Emilie was treated to some archery. One of the things that makes Pumba so special is the way that the staff goes out of their way to make the safari special, not only for the adults, but also for the kids. This really is a very special place and I cannot wait to go back!