The surreal South Africa features on the must-visit-places list of every travel junkie. However, for a city bloke like me (whose idea of 'hunting' always meant hunting for a good bargain at a warehouse sale), the trip clearly opened my eyes to a whole new world. Rolling hills, luscious riverine vegetation and nimble wild creatures in their natural habitats – all these morphed me into a poet of nature.
After an ultra-comfy flight in South African Airways, we arrived at Bush Lodge only 45 minutes drive east of Port Elizabeth. Our welcome drinks made the arrival even more special and we checked into our toasty suites. I have to admit, it's the perfect utopia for the honeymooners – a quaint, tranquil and romantic oasis in the middle of mother nature.
South African Airways is the only airline offering direct daily flights on the Mumbai-Johannesburg route, hence connecting India and South Africa, minus any stopovers. The Airbus A330-200 is employed on this route, and is well equipped to service long haul flights. It has 36 business class and 186 economy class seats.
Game Reserve safari
We sat on a safari jeep and soaked in the sights of exotic flowers, birds and animals as our wildlife expert and guide Andrew drove it ferociously through an undulating passage. Wild thorny bushes greeted us from both the sides of the narrow passage and we had to be careful not to crane our necks too out. What's more mesmerising than a sight of two gorgeous giraffes nimbly fighting with each other. I learnt that these elegant creatures are harmless and feed on the thorny bushes. The highlight of the safari was definitely the 40-year-old elephant Norman plucking out grass and plants, beating the dust and then relishing it. We also spotted arrays of zebras, rhinos, wild buffaloes and kudus. Suddenly it began to rain crazily and the colour and the texture of the forest and the animals also changed. Andrew was gracious enough to offer us khaki-toned rain ponchos in which we quickly slipped into.
After the adrenaline-pumping safari, we headed straight to the bar for a shot of caramel vodka while some of us treated ourselves to a glass of South African Pinot Noir. The lounge area is housed by an expansive viewing deck. Dinner was decadent too. To my surprise there were a lot of veg options on the menu – I have to admit, the lentil curry was to die for. My non-veg dinner companions, who tried the kudu meat for the first time, couldn't stop raving about it.
A night in the middle of the wilderness
Each suite offers a private plunge pool for sinful and relaxing South African evenings after spending time around. Don't let the noise of the insects and animals bother you since the suites are well shielded from the animals around. Just soak in the serenity, enjoy showering in the open area (no one's gonna see you, except of course the animals). Each of the five private rooms offers en-suite facilities, private lounge and climate control.