When we arrived at the main lodge – by Land Rover, as per the rules – it was so beautiful that we sort of understood why they didn’t want our “civilian” car anywhere near. We were greeted by Moyo, the manager. He led us through the sprawling entrance hall, the romantic dining room, the beautiful bar and the wood-panelled library, onto a deck overlooking the valley….Sigh… It was all very David Livingstone, daaaa-hling.
Based on the car incident (see Karkloof, Part 1) I reckon Winston probably phoned ahead and told Moyo to beware of the stressy Joburgers. Moyo needn’t have worried, though. We were so embarrassed by our behaviour that we followed him like obedient children, heads hung in shame, opening our mouths only to gasp “ooh” and “aah” at this frightfully splendid lodge, daaaa-hling.
And it was indeed splendid. Our room was the size of a Woolworths Foods store. Okay, that includes the bathroom, the entrance hall and the study-cum-dressing room, but still!!! Plus they have this fantastic concept of “escaping from time”, so you can “dine” (as they put it) at absolutely any hour of the day or night. We also learned that there is no official check-out time. Which is obviously pretty hard to implement when you’re managing a hotel, so okay fine, you can’t stay all day if they have a new reservation, but it’s SO much better than the usual sparrow’s fart check-out times loved by hotels the world over…
In a nutshell, Karkloof Spa is a beautiful, timeless bubble of luxury, overlooking lush green hills and valleys, with phenomenal food and service. (And I say this, despite our extremely embarrassing entrance – and exit and re-entry.)
There’s just one thing that we found a little…er…bizarre. Before leaving Scottburgh on Friday afternoon, all I knew was that we were heading to a spot called “Karkloof Spa” in the Natal Midlands. So I was picturing bubbling brooks, hot stone massages, rose petals and gentle nature walks through the trees.
Not quite. Or not only, should I say.
When we entered the premises for the first time, we were welcomed by a security guard and told to follow the road to Reception 200m away. As we rounded the corner to pull up in front of Reception, we thought we saw a large object – or something. It was pitch dark so we slowed down and yes, there was a large, very animate object in front of us. A white rhino, to be precise. I swear, I could not have been more gobsmacked if I’d seen an Eskimo.
Then he started looking decidedly tetchy and swaying or moving his head or something. I don’t really remember his exact body language because he was 3m in front of me and I was a little… FREAKED OUT. Luckily, The Husband does not think he’s the Camel Man at times like these. (I’m honestly FINE with that). Quick as a flash, he rammed the car into reverse and we fled.
(We only crept back to reception about 40 minutes later, once we were certain that Mr Rhino had shuffled off.)
As we were leaving the “Spa” the next day, we realised that Mr Rhino had company. We drove past a herd of Springbok practically NEXT TO our car. As we crawled past, they looked up, checked us out and then carried on munching their lunch. Could they be on tranquilisers? I realised I’ve never actually got a good look at our national animal. That’s because they’re always hopping away, all stressed and jittery-like. Not these ones. They looked like the most chilled out Springboks in the whole country. We later discovered that this is because they’re in no danger of being lunch for Mr Lion. The 3,500 hectare “Spa” has shipped in some rhinos, some buffalos as well as some smaller, less scary specimens, but there are absolutely NO predators. So you basically feel as though you’re in a large zoo. Or on the set of Jurassic Park. Either way, it just doesn’t feel real. I’m talking about little warthogs practically sniffing your tyres and enormous buffalos grinning at your from about ten steps away. The whole “wildlife” aspect of the place is just…bizarre. I don’t know how else to describe it.
I reckon the Germans must love it, though.