The only condition laid down was that I should be brutally honest should I decide to write about our trip to the bush – and if we recovered from the plethora of Fanta Browns (hops, wheat, barley and other stuff) that we managed to tame in the course of a long evening around the fire.
Before embarkation date I had a look at the Kudu Ridge web site and like all prospective guests surfed the images available to get some sort of an idea just what the accommodation would be like. Ringing in my ears was the refrain that I constantly hear from the Budget Accommodation Aunties; “People want to see where they will sleep, eat and what the White Room looks like, before they book.” More about that later.
We decided to take the Motherwell route to Addo and were pleasantly surprised at the state of the road from the N2 to the Motherwell border and then a slight frisson of disappointment set in, as the Addo Road is still in a less than pothole free state. Significantly the parts of the road that are not that great all fall under the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and not Cacadu. Makes one wonder if maybe the accommodation establishments in Port Elizabeth are possibly paying one of our councilors off to NOT do anything about the upgrade. (Just joking Aunties!).
The trip out to Kudu Ridge from Motherwell took us 25 minutes and that at a leisurely pace. Of course we were, uncharacteristically, the first to arrive at Kudu Ridge and spent a bit of time taking in the Sundays River Valley scenery and teasing the Apprentice Longhair mercilessly.
It wasn’t too long and ‘mine host’ arrived to grant us access to his domain. We ground our way up the dirt track to the Game Ranch buildings with me smugly happy that I had a 4×4 – not that a normal car would be unable to do the trip, mind you, but just satisfied that I could play with my toy. In fact one of the couples that joined us later did the trip up in a low slung Alfa with no complaints.
Kudu Ridge is completely surrounded with an extensive electric fence and the accommodation compound is within a separately fenced area – quite safe from killer Kudu I am sure.
After a welcome Fanta Brown we were escorted to our tented accommodation – now this is where the aforementioned web site visit taught me a lesson as the images on the Kudu Ridge web site do not do the tented accommodation justice. The tents were neat, clean and rather spacious with a small kitchenette and en-suite ablutions neatly hidden away. So my initial misgivings, allied with the very reasonable quoted price of R280.00 per person per night, accommodation only, were incorrect. Just what is it about the human race that we demand the cheapest price but when we stumble across a it we immediately have misgivings and wonder what we will be getting? The tents can accommodate up to four people comfortably and if booked as a family group of up to four cost R650.00 per night. In comparison to other accommodation in the Addo area this is a virtual steal.
Of course we were there to relax and the Longhair was crowing with success having succeeded in refusing me permission to carry my laptop along with me – just in case I had to do a little work on MyPE! Addo is very dry this time of the year and we opted for a game walk with a very eloquent and knowledgeable, Siwe, who pointed out lots of game including Kudu, Bushbuck and Impala. The Apprentice Longhair was over the moon, though, when she saw the resident donkeys, Chocolate and Caramel. Siwe assured us that they would come up to the compound later for a bite and to say hello.
Returning to home base we discovered that one of the guests had tried to tackle a 4×4 route in a 4×2 and managed to get stuck, so we all piled into the game viewing vehicle and trundled out to view a game of a different kind – shame, the poor guy learned an expensive lesson that day.
When in the bush what else do you day at the end of a long day but stoke up a good fire, hand your meat over to Siwe and Philip and pass ‘knowledgeable’ comments about the game you have viewed that day and in the past, with comparisons getting wilder and more improbable as the night progresses. Yup you guessed it, we spent a long night around the fire solving the world’s problems and then regretted not seeing the sunrise the next morning. The Apprentice Longhair added another culinary first to her short and eventful life when she had ‘regte, egte stywe pap en sous’ with her meal. In fact I now get asked to make ‘Kudu Ridge porridge’ whenever we have a braai at home – isn’t being young just great?
I only recall being moaned at once about my snoring by the Longhair – a good testament to the fresh air and the comfort of the beds.
The next morning, after a breakfast of note (We had great fun operating Philip’s conveyor toaster), we went off for one last long walk along the eastern side of the farm. Plans for the farm include a chapel and wedding venue on the ridge overlooking the magnificent Sunday’s River Valley and the sea in the distance.
The Longhair and her Apprentice were impressed when shown that, if they burrowed to the middle of the oranges left out in the veld for the game, they would find cold citrus for the taking – bush fridge deluxe. On the last leg of our walk Young Philip arrived with a case of ice cold Fanta Browns and other assorted soft drinks for the thirsty.
My brutally honest opinion of Kudu Ridge:
- The accommodation was a pleasant surprise.
- The tent toilet could be lower and further away from the wall – it is difficult to turn pages of your book whilst seated.
- The kitchenette could be bigger.
- The somewhat rustic look of the chalets on the web site needs an update.
- Kudu Ridge is ideally placed as a small conference / bosberaad venue close enough to Port Elizabeth. In fact I saw in the Guest Book that local radio station, Algoa FM had done just that recently.
- The pricing is fair – I am not sure how to benchmark the pricing in comparison to other more expensive venues, though.
- I would change the road sign to indicate the accommodation aspect – everyone knows and uses Kudu Ridge as a landmark into Addo, but the mind association with the venue, for accommodation, is not happening. We all know that a Guest House, Bed and Breakfast, Hotel or Lodge offers accommodation but what exactly does a Game Ranch and Bush Camp offer?
- The establishment of Kudu Ridge was a labour of love and the next step for the owner is to ‘corporatise’ it.
- The views of the Sundays River Valley are magnificent.
- Game is abundant – just wish I had had the time to take a slow solitary stalk through the bush to get close, though.
- The breakfast was great and company convivial.
- An ideal spot to go with a couple of friends and have a break.
Would we go again? Yes.