For many being a web designer generally means being stuck in an office, in front of a computer for hours on end. It's just not the type of job that warrants traveling. Which sucks, as it's one that can easily be done from pretty much anywhere with an internet connection - a coffee shop, a hotel, your aunt's neighbour's house, hell, I'm writing this article while chilling on the beach... Okay I'm not, but I totally could if I wanted to.
Our company understands this so the girls are allowed to work from home and we occasionally visit clients and work while on the road. As we had a few clients to see this time, Paul, Jono, Claire and I hit the road - that's two designers and two photographers.
We left early on Monday morning, road tripped north and about five hours later arrived in Swaziland. It's a stunning, picturesque country with countless miles of unspoiled nature and beautiful landscapes. Our destination - Foresters Arms, a charming country hotel bordering a forest. The owner, Ruth, is such a gem! She's sweet, funny and has stories for days! She really made our stay there exceptional.
The hotel wasn't fully booked so I got the quaint honeymoon suite to myself and we also had a separate suite that served as our 'office'. The food was abso-f*ckin-lutely scrumptious! Breakfasts and lunches were buffets, while dinners were from a different menu each evening. Everything was incredibly delicious but one thing that completely blew my mind was the bread - which is freshly baked each morning with my absolute favourite being the carrot and marrow bread. Heavenly with butter, and soft and light in texture with each bite releasing subtle flavours that gently caress your tastebuds. I kid you not, that's how good it was! Definitely the best bread I've ever had, everrrrr!
Between episodes of scoffing down as much bread as I could, I did get some work done. The new site design came out looking quite awesome and Ruth was exceedingly happy with it too. After three days there, I had to part with my dear bread as we hit the road once again and traveled for roughly another five hours into the Makalali Conservancy, and to our next client, Garonga Safari Camp.
Into the Makalali
OMF, Garonga is simply breathtaking! Situated deep within the Makalali, it boasts luxurious tented rooms at the main lodge as well as three private rooms a short distance away dubbed 'Little Garonga'. This is where we spent our stay.
The lodge is completely unfenced and is centered around luxury, intimacy and a feeling of being in the heart of the wild. Rooms are specifically catered for couples with only one room sleeping more than two. The rooms are captivating and comfortable with heated beds, and bathrooms are elaborately spacious featuring twin basins, a bath tub as well as inside and outside showers. The entire place is romantic af. I like that. Garonga definitely earns a top spot in my list of 'places to take wifey' haha. Other intimate features include a Bush Bath - an outdoor bubble bath (and wine) that overlooks the reserve, and the Sleepout - a secluded open air platform miles away from the lodge where you and your significant other can spend the night laying beneath the stars.
I love the fact that the camp is unfenced allowing the wildlife to roam freely, and at night you can hear them all around. That's cute and all but pales in comparison to the highlight of my trip. On the second day, Claire and I were having breakfast and she noticed something rustling through the bushes behind me. I turned around and just a stone's throw away was a massive elephant bull making his way through the thicket. I walked to the end of the deck to take a few photos and he began moving closer towards me. He walked through the camp, pass Claire's room and through the car park area. At times I was right in front of him, less than 5m away. It was flipping unbelievable!
The food is exquisite with continental breakfasts and lunches, and you can also order anything else at no cost. Alcohol and drinks are also completely free - as much as you want, whenever you want, drink the bar dry if you want. With rates set at about R8000 a night, I guess it's all inclusive. Three course dinners are served either at a private dining area, in your room or at the Boma - an outdoor dining area featuring a large table accommodating all guests at once. On occasion, Bernie, Garonga's owner is also there for pre-drinks. He's funny, kind and a really nice guy.
We did two game drives daily, early morning and late afternoon. We saw hyenas, wild dogs, ellies, a black jackal, giraffe, zebra, impala, kudu, buffalo, lions and warthogs. I was a bit bummed that I didn't see any rhino, but maybe next time. Since Jono was working on the new site design, it gave me a break to relax a little and help out with the photography. I got a few good shots, and now have a newfound appreciation for wildlife photography. That sh*t ain't easy! I either had the perfect shot with crappy lighting, or perfect lighting with nothing to photograph. Story of my life lol.
This was my first game lodge/safari experience and what an experience it was! I loved every minute of it and I'm super keen on going back!