Vuyani Safari Lodge 2.0



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. image1
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 primage2oblem 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 image4and 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


Heritage Day 2015


Today is not like any other Thursday in South Africa – it is a public holiday that is eagerly celebrated by all. It is Heritage Day.

Heritage Day is a South African public holiday celebrated on 24 September. On this day, South Africans across the continuum are encouraged to celebrate their culture and the diversity of their beliefs and traditions, in the wider context of a nation that belongs to all its people.


J and T

History of Heritage Day: In KwaZulu-Natal (one of the nine provinces of South Africa), the 24th of September was formerly known as Shaka Day, in commemoration of the legendary Zulu king, King Shaka Zulu.




When the proposed Public Holidays Bill before the New South African Parliament omitted Shaka Day, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), a South African political party with a large Zulu membership, objected to the bill.  A compromise was reached when it was decided to create a day where all South Africans could observe and celebrate their diverse cultural heritage.



In an address marking Heritage Day in 1996, former President Nelson Mandela stated:

“When our first democratically-elected government decided to make Heritage Day one of our national days, we did so because we knew that our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our new nation.”Goodman

Indeed at Vuyani Safari Lodge we have a rich diversity in cultures, all the staff at the lodge come from a different background and it is heartening to see how we embrace each other’s cultures and traditions each day. Our team consists of Shangaan, Zulu, Sotho, Afrikaans, Tsonga, Pedi and even Shona (from Zimbabwe) Today we will celebrate Heritage day, proudly South African. **Justine


The Team Did It Again! …..

RiverbedPlace SettingMR n MRS table


Boma TableDecorative Lodge



A while back I wrote a piece in which I said that we can organize anything at the lodge with enough notice, and again the team has managed to pull off something amazing…

Our bride pretty much planned her wedding all on her own, and we just put the whole package together. It was a midday ceremony with a Wedding Lunch, and then a beautiful Boma dinner under the stars. The weather played along perfectly! There are only so many words that can be spoken about your magical day – but the pictures as they say speak volumes. If you are planning a special occasion – should it be a proposal, a birthday or the most important day of your life, please take us into consideration. You will not regret it 🙂

Love Boma

Flowers and BirdsLounge

Nothing is impossible…


At Vuyani Lodge anything is possible with the team we have on site! We recently had a guest who wanted to propose to his girlfriend, so he contacted me in advance (and in the sly) to organize something special. He had some specifics that he wanted to incorporate and the Vuyani Team jumped in.

Kim and I took a large cardboard box (Craig’s Idea) and traced “Will you marry me” we then cut it along the lines and painted the outside of the box black and the inside white. Craig constructed a “Light system” for the inside, using LED strips and our box was complete J

20150318_204718_LLS_resizedThe plan was simple. Craig was to hide out in some shrubs at one of the lakes on the reserve and then turn the lights on at Hendrick’s (Guide) signal. Of course this is the bush and anything is possible, so the afternoon before the “Big Plan” Craig and Hendrick went over their strategy only to discover that the Lioness with her three cubs had decided to spend some time at our chosen lake. Hahaha. So it was20150318_204012_resized on to plan B.

Craig picked a beautiful spot on one of the open plains. Hendrick spotted the light in the distance and convinced the guests that he had to investigate as it might be poachers. As they approached Hendrik asked the guests to use their Binoculars as it might be too dangerous if they ventured too close. And then she saw it!

After a bottle of sparkling wine it was back to the Lodge for some delicious dinner. Kim and I had set up a private dinner at our Lower Deck area – which tra20150318_204708_LLS_resizednsformed into the most beautiful romantic venue. We used lanterns, candles and Fairy lights. It is very dark at the bottom deck and all the natural light was whimsical.

So with a little planning and some guidelines we can pretty much pull off whatever you have planned for that special someone.

The Crew…



When walking around the grounds at the lodge one sees that everything is well maintained. The pathways are always neat and tidy and the deck areas are always swept. The pool is clean and the umbrellas up. There are fresh pool towels every morning and the Gardens look great!

This makes one think about the guys behind the scenes. The guys who can fix nearly everything and anything and are always the first ones to carry the luggage to the room or change a lightbulb.20140623_121947_resized

The best way to describe them was written in one of our Trip advisor reviews where a previous guest referred to them as “Ninjas” I found this highly amusing and so very true. They are indeed “Vuyani Ninjas”20141018_102250_resized

Andries Mathebula and Krest Ndhlovu. These two friendly faces are seen at the lodge on a daily basis, usually with a broom, hammer or Garden hose in their hand. No task is too big or small for these guys and they play a vital role in the day to day running of the lodge.

Andries and Krest have their own little “Office” and this area is stocked with all the necessities. Once a week they do a “Spring Clean” and sort out every single nail, screw and paintbrush. This morning I snapped a quick photo mid clean, of them going about their business.

I am sure you will see them moving swiftly about the lodge during your stay with a big smile on their face, hardly noticed but an integral part of the team!

Spotlight on…….Kalmay Hart

Kalmay is the newest addition to the team at Vuyani Safari Lodge and has taken the Head Chef position. Kalmay is familiar with the Hoedspruit area and the “Lodge Life” as she has spent the majority of her career in the industry. She has an infectious laugh, crazy sense of humour and a strong personality. The first day that she started working at the Lodge it felt like she belonged here. I sat with her this morning and asked her a couple of questions about herself:

What are your full names:

Kalmay Hart

When and Where were you Born?

Kalmay was born on the 3rd of June in Ladysmith, Kwa Zulu Natal. She had grown up in Tzaneen, which is about an hour and half from Hoedspruit. And moved to Hoedspruit when she was sixteen. Her parents live about 40 minutes from the lodge and are Citrus farmers in the area. Hoedspruit is rather well known for their excellent Citrus produce.

Where did you go to School?

I was home schooled and had a private tutor. Long before I finished my school career I knew I wanted to be Chef. I wanted to create. I think some people are born with a love of certain things. And my love is food. I enrolled in Mashatu Hotel School in Phalaborwa where I graduated with a Diploma in Lodge Management and Culinary Skills.

When did you start working in the Lodge Industry?

My first job in the industry was more than 10 years ago in a Lodge near Phalaborwa. We all start at the bottom, and you basically work your way up. Experience is knowledge. I have always taken pride in never asking anyone to do something unless I am willing to do it myself. I have washed floors, cleaned freezers – you name it I’ve done it, and it has all been part of the fun and a learning experience.

Why did you choose to work in the Lodge industry?

I have always loved the outdoors. I grew up on a farm, I was always outside climbing trees, swimming in the river and having fun. I don’t think I could live in the city. I just doesn’t appeal to me. Being a Chef is my passion and getting to do this in the outdoors is a magnificent thing. I often play this game where I only allow myself three or four ingredients and “Create Something Wonderful” Keeps me ahead of my game.

What do you love most about the bush and why?

I am at one with nature on a daily basis. The beauty about living in the bush is that every day is different. All creatures big and small fascinate me. I drive to work and see all these animals, trees, birds insects and grasses and I think to myself – this is what it must be like to live in paradise.

Are you married, do you have children?

I am not married (*Laughs very loudly*) and I don’t have children.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Anything outdoors! I love river rafting, mountain climbing and camping. Anything that gets the adrenaline flowing is worth doing!

What is your favourite animal?

Many people might find this strange, but I will have to say Buffalo. They are underrated “beasts” They appear very calm and quiet – but yet possess so much power that you dare not venture too close.

If you could do anything in the world, what would it be?

That is a tough question. I think if I didn’t pursue my dream as a Chef I would have liked to do event planning.

Kalmay is a vibrant young woman. She has so much energy and a lust for life! She loves trying out new ideas. She brings a certain flair to the lodge that I cannot explain. Kalmay has so many fresh ideas that we can hardly wait to see what she has up her sleeve at Mealtimes. Her laughter can be heard streaming out of the Kitchen from morning till evening, and it is so infectious.

“Good food is like music you can taste, colour you can smell. There is excellence all around you. You need only to be aware to stop and savour it” Ratatouille

Safari from the Deck…

When staying at Vuyani Safari Lodge you do not only see animals on your morning and afternoon Safaris. we have a couple of animals that love to roam around the lodge.

The most common species that you will see is most probably the Nyala Antelope. Nyala are very docile creatures and if you approach them slowly you can get quite close for a photo. The male and Female Nyala look very different. The males are much more robust with an impressive set of horns, they are also much darker in colour and appear almost grey. They have a white strip of long hairs running down their back (resembles a Mohawk) These hairs will rise to make them appear bigger in size, this is to ward off any predators and to show rival males who is boss. The females are a brown “rusty” colour and have white spots and stripes. They are smaller in size and do not have horns.

At the lodge we are also frequently visited by Warthogs. These little guys dig up all the delicious roots and bulbs and much to the dismay of our Gardeners, ever so often snag a flower or two 🙂

Then we have the ever present and very mischievous Vervet Monkeys. They sit on the roof or in trees near and around the lodge and scrutinize our every move. If you turn your back for one second they will swoop in and grab any unattended food. Normally when they have grabbed an item (usually a muffin from the Breakfast buffet) they will run to the highest point of the roof and enjoy their delicious snack (right where all the staff can see them but not reach them) Very smart little animals.

If you have visited or planning a visit I am positive that you will see one or all of the above mentioned animals. Having your very own safari right from the pool deck.

Vuyani Christmas 2014…

Christmas Day at Vuyani Safari Lodge was most definitely the hottest one for me so far. It was myself and Christopher’s third Christmas day spent at the lodge and it was special as always.

We set up for dinner in the afternoon – and Chris did a great job of decorating the table. Each guest received a small Rhino Gift that we purchased at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, our way of giving back during the festive season, as the Centre is a non profit organization.

The Roder Family spent the day in the Kruger National Park with Togara and saw a variety of animals. They returned around five pm and headed straight for the pool, in true South African Style.

Our two other guests Christian and Honore went on Safari with Themba and Uyai. They also had a successful safari – be sure to have a look at the Safari Blog for more details.

Janus spent the whole day cooking up a Christmas Feast for our guests and we sat down to a Buffet dinner around eight pm. There were a large variety of dishes to choose from and everything on the Menu looked delicious. After a glass of sparkling wine and some scrumptious desserts our Guests retired for the evening.

On behalf of all the Staff at Vuyani Safari Lodge we would like to wish you a Wonderful Festive Season and a very Prosperous 2015.

Meet The Team…

I thought that I would give our future guests a bit of an idea who is who once they arrive at the lodge. I know many of our guests correspond either with myself or Kim Heyink, so thought it would be nice to put a face to the name. So I will introduce you to the staff members that you will most likely meet on Arrival.

Craig Carnaby:

Craig Carnaby is our General Manager. He makes sure that operations of the entire lodge are at a high standard and that all departments are running at optimum levels. You will often see Craig moving swiftly through the lodge, making sure that all aspects of making Vuyani tick are in place. He has been with Vuyani since June 2012. If Craig hadn’t been in the Hospitality industry he would have liked to be a Pilot. Interesting Fact: Craig is a Specialist Guide which is the highest level one can achieve in Field Guiding and did this professionally for 16 years.

Justine Ferreira:

Justine Ferreira is our Lodge Manager. Apart from writing the Lodge Blog I take over from Craig when he takes some days off in ensuring that the Lodge maintains optimum level of service and guest satisfaction. I also manage the staff compliment and do a lot of Office work. I have been with Vuyani since June 2012. If I hadn’t been in the hospitality industry I would have loved to be a Tattoo Artist. Interesting Fact: I quit my Guiding job of 7 years in 2010 to move to Scarsdale, New York where I lived and worked for a year.

Kim Heyink:

Kim is one of our Front of House members and always has the friendliest smile when our guests arrive at the lodge. Kim liaises with guests regarding activities and also does quite a bit of office work. Kim takes over from me in the Office when I take some days off. Kim has been at Vuyani since January 2014. If Kim hadn’t worked at Vuyani she would have most liked to have opened her own Restaurant. Interesting Fact: Kim lived in Dusseldorf, Germany for 3 months and Tyndrum, Scotland for 6 months.

Arno Du Plooy:

Arno is our second Front of House member and he is always ready to lend a hand to all departments when necessary. You will see Arno all around the lodge always with a smile on his face. He assists with Check In and Check Outs. Arno has been at Vuyani for around 4 months after deciding that teaching wasn’t his dream. If Arno hadn’t joined the hospitality industry he most likely would have wanted to be a Vet. Interesting Fact: Arno has a passion for Yorkshire Terriers and has three of them at home.

This might give you a little insight to the people that make the lodge “tick” before you arrive for your vacation at Vuyani Safari Lodge 

Our Goodbyes to Chef Stephanie.

When one works and lives in a very close proximity daily, like we do, here at Vuyani Safari Lodge. Then it is hard not to become close friends. This makes it a little harder when a staff member decides to take the road less travelled. We have had to say our Goodbyes to Chef Stephanie.
Stephanie brought with her a certain aura that brightened up the whole of the Reserve (never mind only the lodge) She could turn a frown upside down in a second, she had her own little quirky ways and means. It has MOST certainly been rather quiet without her around.
A few months ago I started doing some Profiles on all the staff members at the lodge, and if you scroll back through my blogs you will find the profile I did on Stephanie. I also filtered through all the photos we have on Facebook and the Office computer and found the best ones to post with our little farewell message.
We as the staff of Vuyani Safari Lodge would like to bid Stephanie a fond farewell and we wish her the best of luck with all her future endeavors. We will always have a place for her at the lodge