Game Experience: See lots of game like lion, rhino, buffalo and elephant, giraffe, lots of buck and snuffling warthog.
Decor: Inviting beds and a bright refurbishment in progress as I left.
Food: Malawian’s are renowned for being great chefs and there are two at Ka’Ingo. Taste some of the best meat in SA, especially game like kudu, eland and wildebeest from the local butcher.
Staff: Staff at Ka’Ingo are a really happy bunch – it seems they really like working here and it shows.
Spa: Ask for Elizabeth and you will experience an unforgettable massage.
Kids: They are welcome here. One extended family of 35 take over the whole place once a year, but bringing that many isn’t a pre-requisite.
Spafari is the latest buzz word in African safari travel and it refers to a holiday where you can combine spa and safari. If both elements can provide pleasure in an equal measures, then I reckon you’ve hit the jackpot. That’s how I felt at Ka’Ingo.
First thing to happen was a hand massage – this was just a ‘welcome to Ka’Ingo‘ reminder that safari is no longer just about watching animals. This spa offers the lot, but if they have a lot of guests book quickly ‘cause you really don’t want to miss a massage from Lizzie. She has magic hands that seek out all those knots then firmly makes them a thing of the past.
Can you imagine lying on the massage bed then hearing lions roar just a few hundred metres away? That’s what happened this morning, except I wasn’t on the massage bed, I was still under my duvet. The pair of male lions that I’d seen on yesterday’s afternoon game drive, were giving it all they had. For over an hour they took turns to roar in a way that only lions know how. It’s the kind of noise that makes the ground vibrate and your heart miss a beat.
The two lions were supposed to lying in the grass with bellies full of kudu that they killed yesterday. But it seems they had eaten their fill and were on the move patrolling their territory. This was of some concern, since I and girlie friend Toni, were supposed to go on a bush walk this morning and we really didn’t want to bump into the lions. Luckily, the handsome duo were seen heading in the opposite direction, so off we went in the Landy, to the spot from where we would walk to see the bushman paintings. But can you believe it, who was strolling down the middle of the road but two lady lionesses.
Their huge paws left monster prints in the soft sand in the very same direction we were heading. Their bellies were also full and it seemed likely that they would find a shady spot to lie down and sleep the day away. As instructed, we followed in the footfall of Sebastian, our impenetrable guide, with his rather large gun, hoping that our short walk did not include a lion encounter.
Sebastian led us to a rocky cliff, towering over the river valley with sandstone boulders sculpted into craggy ledges. Climbing down to a wide overhang where San and other nomads had left their mark was not difficult, but Sebastian spooked us with tales of snakes and scorpions, of which we saw none. Bushman paintings are always a sight worth seeing, but these were particularly rich. There was a whole wall of stunning hand-painted animal figures dating back thousands of years and this is just one of the known sites in the reserve.
There are possibly more that they don’t even know about, so dense are the rocks that tower over the crocodile infested river.
It was on the sandy banks of this river, at ‘the beach’, that Sebastian frog marched us to brunch. Toni asked if crocs ever come up onto the banks, to which Sebastian replied, “Yes” and continued to unload the table, chairs and meal of fruit, cereals and yoghurts, hams, boiled eggs, cheeses and apple-filled pastries. Sebastian is a man of few words or very many, there is no in between.
Moses on the other hand just smiles a lot. So does Helen and Matthew and Lizzie and Elmarie. These are just some of the staff at Ka’Ingo who seem really happy to be there.
Were they really that content in their jobs, I wondered, so I asked them. They were. White, Black, from South Africa and Malawi, these were a tight crew who together, made my stay at Ka’Ingo hugely pleasant.
Helen, a waitress, is busy learning from the two Malawian chefs, so that she can one day become a chef too. She’ll have to learn how to cook game meat, since this area is the venison capital of South Africa. This is big hunting country, and a visit to a local butchery revealed a variety of red meat that even I hadn’t tried; hippo, elephant, giraffe, sable, none of which I could bring myself to buy. I did however, try a giraffe kebab around the boma fire last night and it was soft and rich. I think my stomach is going to burst, I have eaten so much food on this safari.
I think it’s time to head home to Cape Town before I become a lazy fat cow, which contrary to what some may say, I am not already. A quick stop at the butcher to fill a cooler bag with eland and warthog borewors (sausage) and some eland fillet and kudu stewing steak, along with quantities of game biltong (shrivelled dried meat that South Africans love to chew on and my man in particular) and carried the whole lot onto the plane back to Cape Town.
I haven’t told you much about the lodge itself, but a major refurbishment is in progress which involves moving the spa to the top of the beautiful large gardens and the conference rooms down to beside the impressive reception. Rooms will become brighter and lighter with the help of sliding doors, more windows, new fabrics and linens and carpet. This will certainly go a long way to making the stone chalets mirror the quality of the reception, which is very grand and plastered with animal artworks and comfy sofas. The pool wasn’t that inviting in Winter, but plenty of loungers make it a desirable place to spend a sunny afternoon.
Take a look at their website, where I expect the ‘new look’ will be featured as soon as its completed: Ka’Ingo Private Reserve & Spa – South African Game Reserve. Ka’Ingo Private Reserve & Spa is a South African game reserve that offers exclusive luxury and relaxation.
This African gem is situated in the heart of the Malaria Free Waterberg area, a mere three hours drive from Johannesburg.