As a staff member we often take for granted how lucky we are to live here.
Paul recently took guests on the Panorama route and he took the lodge camera with him, when he returned and I looked at the photos, I was in complete awe! We truly are very lucky to live in such a beautiful country.
We have also had some amazing rains and everything is so lush and green! The waterfalls are filled to the brim. Paul took some photos at Lisbon & Berlin Waterfalls. These are only two of the many stops on this amazing sightseeing day.
He also snapped some pics at Bourke’s Luck potholes, this is one of the stops where you can actually walk right up to the potholes they have made little walkways, so the photographic opportunities are fantastic.
Unfortunately the day was a little bit hazy so there were no decent photos of the Three Rondawels or God’s Window. But I can vouch that these are both absolutely breathtaking! If you are interested in seeing a bit of the countryside whilst visiting Vuyani Safari Lodge – then the Panorama Route is a must.
I thought it fitting to write about making memories in the month of February, also known as the month of LOVE.
At Vuyani Safari Lodge we can custom organize any occasion for you and that special someone. It could be pretty much any occasion for example a wedding, Anniversary, Honeymoon and Birthdays the staff at the lodge absolutely love to make our guests feel EXTRA special, and they adore singing “Happy Birthday”
We have created magical and intimate private dinners under the stars, or a romantic private breakfast with a magnificent view of the Drakensberg, Birthdays to remember and stunning wedding ceremonies. Each and every occasion is completely bespoke to the guest’s needs and requests, and we ensure that your special occasion is one to remember. You can either choose to do a private affair with your partner or celebrate with other in house guests in our “Boma” area.
If you are visiting the lodge and would like that “WOW Factor” please feel free to email us directly here at the lodge and we can make it an unforgettable memory.
In 2016 we had some major changes around the lodge. We added a new dining room, spa and kitchen! I wrote a blog on this a while back.
After almost 6 years and thousands of feet, dinners, breakfasts and lunches – the deck by the pool had become a hazard. The foundation was completely rusted through and it was a major problem for us and a safety risk for our guests.
It was time to take action. We closed the Luxury Suites and everyone jumped in. It was 8 days of intense hard labour and even some tears!
The results are amazing! It looks absolutely stunning – and safe! Well done to Craig and the team.
Craig also erected two water features on the newly built deck! It add a certain flair and the deck area looks completely different.
I remember when I started here 6 years ago and the metamorphosis that Vuyani Safari Lodge has undergone during this period, truly is remarkable.
Tayla has taken over the gardens here at the lodge and transformed the dreary looking corners at the pool into works of art!
Beautiful succulents and pebbles, the great thing is we don’t have to keep them moist, which saves radical amounts of water.
I can in all honesty say that this year was a very busy one for all the staff here at Vuyani Safari Lodge, and we hope our guests have a Merry Christmas and a very prosperous 2017
Herewith another mouthwatering recipe from Vuyani's Kitchen:
Ingredients for the filling:
Chicken Breast (Cubed)
2 Onions (Diced)
2 Large Cloves of Garlic
Button Mushrooms (Sliced)
Whole Black Pepper Corns
Salt & Pepper
For the Crust:
Puff Pastry (You can buy this at any Supermarket) or if you are feeling adventurous you can make your own
1 Beaten Egg
To prepare the filling:
Pour the milk into a saucepan over medium heat. Add a whole Garlic clove, one diced Onion, Whole black peppercorns and sprig of Thyme to the milk. Let it just come to the boil and turn the heat down to a simmer for about 20 minutes.
Pour your infused milk through a sieve and set aside.
In a separate saucepan add a bit of cooking oil and Sautee the following:
1 Diced Onion, Sliced Mushrooms and Diced Carrots and a clove of minced garlic. Once this has sautéed put it aside. Now add your Chicken (with an extra bit of oil, if needed) and fry until brown. Add some Chicken stock and let it simmer to reduce the liquid. Once the liquid is simmered down considerably add your sautéed onion, mushroom, carrot and garlic.
In a separate saucepan, over a low heat, put a stick of butter (100g) and let it melt, now add 100g of flour and make a roux, add your infused milk slowly to prevent lumps to create a Béchamel sauce.
Once you have your desired Béchamel add it to your Chicken, onion, garlic, mush room and carrot. Let it cool down in the fridge for about 30 – 45 mins.
On a clean surface, sprinkle some flour and unroll you pastry sheets. You can decide on the size of the pie. Place a spoonful in the middle and “pinch” the sides to form a closed unit. Make a small incision on the top for the steam to escape.
Use the beaten egg with a brush and brush your pies.
Place them in a 180 degree oven for 30 minutes until golden brown
It has been quite a while since my last Blog entry. Things at the lodge have been rather busy, which is always a good sign. As they say “No news is good news”
We are busy as always and the new Spa is doing very well! Kea (Spa Therapist) is ever present at the lodge during the day, so if you are planning a visit, I think a Spa Treatment is a must! All the products are natural and we also have them as amenities in the rooms, I can highly recommend the scented diffusers (also in the rooms) as they are heavenly, and available at the lodge, be sure to ask your host.
Craig had us create our own “up to the minute” Weather Station. This was a lot of fun and we had a good laugh, be sure to keep an eye out between Honeymoon Suites 1 and 2. I have taken some photos for everyone to enjoy!
As some of our guests may remember we had a “Lodge Cat” named Savannah, she was an African Wild Cat that lived with us here at the lodge and sadly she passed on. She left a rather big empty space in the hearts of Staff and Guests alike.
Around the end of last year we “adopted” another African Wild Cat from a nearby lodge. They could not care for him and asked if we wanted to keep him as they were looking for a good home. Of course we jumped at the opportunity!
Chef Vusi decided to call him “Zingela” which directly translates to “Little Hunter” the first couple of days Zingela was a little skittish to his new surroundings and he did not like us approaching him. But he soon settled in and is now the new “King of the Castle” As you can see he spends his days napping around the lodge. If given half a chance he will make himself comfortable on your bed! The Chefs have spoilt him rotten and he has become part of the team.
On the 1st of June 2016 it marked my 4th year at Vuyani Safari Lodge. I cannot even begin to describe how much has changed over the past years. All for the better of course!
We have come a long way since that first day I walked in to the lodge back in 2012. So I thought I would give you a bit of a glimpse of our latest accomplishment.
The Chefs (especially Kalmay) could not wait for the new kitchen! She was super excited and probably asked Craig about a thousand times “Is it ready yet?” For the rest of the staff here at the lodge, the construction felt like it was taking years….I think because we were all so impatient to see the finished product! And what a finish it was, absolutely stunning. I will never forget the look on the Chefs faces when the entered the new kitchen – priceless.
Our new main building consists of a HUGE dining room with not one, but TWO fireplaces! It has been keeping the guests very toasty during the cold winter times. Recks absolutely loves the fact that he can now build two fires instead of one.
We still have our open plan kitchen, but we also now have a “back” kitchen with an amazing amount of storage and two stove/ovens, a walk in fridge and walk in freezer! You can just imagine how ecstatic the Kitchen staff were.
We also have a new bar area in this main building for dinner – and we are still finishing up the outside fire pit area. It is going to be amazing. You can relax around the fire with a pre-dinner G&T before enjoying a lovely meal inside the warm and toasty dining room.
We also have a treatment room for massages and a full time massage therapist on site. Be sure to have a peek at the spa menu and book your treatment.
We have an area set aside for the new Gym and this is still in the works, but will hopefully be up and running soon.
The new building also boasts with so much more storage area and we have moved the entire Laundry operation to that side also!
Another magnificent project that can only improve our guest experience here at Vuyani Safari Lodge.
I snapped a few quick photos to post, the professional photos should be up on our website soon.
Quite a few of our guests have enjoyed this dish at the lodge. And I know they have asked Kalmay, Vusi and Amu for the recipe.
Coconut Crepes (what we call Pancakes in South Africa)
2 Cups of All-purpose Flour (Cake Flour)
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Sugar
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1 Cup desiccated Coconut
2 Cups of Milk.
Sift all the dry ingredients together and add the Coconut. Mix with the wet ingredients until you get a smooth “runny” batter.
Heat a pan over medium heat and add a tablespoon of Oil.
Make a stack of the Coconut Pancakes and set aside to cool.
1 Onion finely diced
1 Clove of Garlic – finely diced
1 Piece of Ginger - finely diced or grated
2 Fresh Chilies – finely diced
4 Fresh Tomatoes – Finely diced
1 Table spoon Tomato Paste
1 Table spoon Curry powder
1 Tin of Coconut Milk
Selection of your favorite veggies roughly chopped.
In a large pan or skillet, add two Tablespoons of Oil and place it over medium heat.
Sauté the Onion until they are soft and add the garlic. Now add the Ginger and Chili.
Add the Curry powder and stir it through the mixture.
Add the Chopped tomatoes and tomato paste and mix through, now add the Coconut Milk and simmer for a few minutes.
Place your selection of veggies on a baking tray and drizzle with Olive Oil. Roast them in the oven until cooked, yet firm.
Take a crepe and fold it in half and in half again. It will create a small “pocket” fill this pocket with your roast veggies and the sauce. Place it on the plate and drizzle the Curry sauce over the Crepe.
We hope you enjoy making this at home as much we did.
Kalmay, Vusi & Amu.
We recently had the honor of hosting another great wedding at Vuyani Safari Lodge.
On the day of the ceremony myself, Hannes, Christopher and our local Pastor George, set off to Porcupine dam (on the reserve) to set up for the service. On arrival we had a quick scout around to see if there were any signs of wildlife. We had found some fresh Elephant tracks and thought that there would be a chance that the Ellies might come down to the water for an afternoon drink.
We set the table with snacks and bubbly and waited for Togara to arrive with the wedding party. It was late afternoon and the temperature was soaring. We opted for the sparse bits of shade and listened to Pastor George’s stories about all the weddings he has done in his life.
Togara called his 5 minute ETA and the wedding party arrived. Pastor George and the couple headed down to the ceremonial table which was near the water and the photographer started snapping away. Hannes, Chris, Togara and I decided to split up and stay vigilant for any game that may be moving through the area. Momentarily after we parted Togara whistled and gestured with his hands for me to come over. Togara and Hannes had just spotted a Lioness on the opposite side of the dam. She was on the move and calling to her cubs, we were a bit panicked as to where the cubs were in relation to the soon to be newlyweds.
Togara decided that a higher vantage point was the answer and proceeded to climb in a small tree. He was examining the surroundings and whispering to us on the ground.
The ceremony was still in full swing and we had informed the party that the Lions were near and that we might have to beat a hasty retreat to the vehicles. Myself and Chris even had time to take a "selfie"
The ceremony finished and Pastor George blessed the couple.
We poured some bubbly and the guests enjoyed the delicious snacks prepared by the Chefs. Christopher wandered off to have another quick peek, returning two minutes later with a bounce in his step and wide eyed. He whispered “Justine, they are there” I asked him what he meant. He whispered again “Justine, the Lions they are there” I asked him where “there” is and he pointed to a Guarri bush behind the snack table. I immediately saw a sub adult Lioness staring at us, well camouflaged in the dappled light of the Guarri. Togara and Hannes also spotted her at the exact same moment. I managed some "blurry" photos with my phone and then one "decent" photo as she lay down to rest next to the water.
Togara immediately took control of the situation and instructed the Guests to climb on the Vehicle, which they hastily did with Champagne glass still in hand. We hopped in the other vehicle and the minute Chris closed the door, the sub adult Lioness walked out from behind the Guarri bush. She walked right in front of our vehicles and past the snack table where our unsuspecting guests had been standing not even a minute before.
What an exciting moment! Nerve wrecking – but exciting! A wedding ceremony that Guests and Staff alike will remember for years to come. Once back at the lodge, the guests were treated to a beautiful candle lit dinner.
Usually I write my Year in Review blog in January – as this is our “quieter” time. Alas….2016 started off with an absolute bang! We are so busy with Guests, New Staff Members and additions to the lodge itself that I have honestly not had a chance to sit down and gather my thoughts.
2015 was a tremendous year for Vuyani Safari Lodge – we went from 14 Guests to 20 Guests in what felt like the blink of an eye! As I write this I am reminiscing about when I started here in 2012 and we were a 10 Guest lodge! How much has changed over the years, and I am absolutely astounded. We have had some amazing staff members join the team and sadly had to say our Good Byes to others. But the team is still very strong and the growth of the lodge evermore. We had some amazing sightings on Safari and remarkable photographic opportunities. The Guides have taken so many photos over the past year that it was nearly impossible to pick any favorites – I did however pick a couple that stood out for me personally. As they say a picture speaks a thousand words.
In 2015 the staff worked incredibly hard and our Guest Feedback was amazing. We are continuously growing every day and the learning curve has been a phenomenal journey for me. I would like to thank each and every staff member who contributed to 2015 being such a “Great Success” I am positive that 2016 will be even better!
It is hard to believe that I have just spent my fourth Christmas at Vuyani Safari Lodge. It feels like it was yesterday when I first walked through the doors of the lodge, so excited to start my new adventure. Four years have passed and I have seen many staff members come and go – I have met some amazing people and the lodge itself has changed (for the better) in so many ways! There are still countless things to look forward to and we are everyday striving to improve.
This year it was by far the warmest Christmas that I have experienced in my twelve years of living in Hoedspruit. Myself, Craig and the team had a meeting and decided we were going to do a dinner on Christmas Eve and a beautiful cold buffet lunch (tapas style) for Christmas Lunch.
The whole team pitched in and the end result was spectacular, the food looked and tasted amazing! There are only so many words to describe a picture – but the proof is in the pudding, as you will see in all the photos.
There is also a special little “selfie” of Christopher and I. We have worked four consecutive years on Christmas and every year we have had a new team. We have now decided to dub ourselves “Vuyani Lifers”
I hope that all our future, past and present guests had a magical Christmas with their loved ones.