Saturday, February 21, 2009

Eating out in Southern Kruger

Visitors that opt for self catering lodges or holliday homes for their Kruger accommodation often have the desire to enjoy the luxury of a well prepared meal at a restaurant. Even professional chefs often prefer to eat food prepared by someone else even if it is just to get new ideas or to get confirmation that their own food is still the best! This region of Mpumalanga, also known as the Wild Frontier has such a vast selection of self catering accommodation and an ever increasing amount of tourists seeking to have close encounters with Africa's wildlife, that it should come at no surprise that with every single visit to the area we discover new, better and bigger facilities for dining out or for that quick stopover for a light meal while on some or other excursion.

Over and above these restaurants, there are various organised activities that offer special meals as an add on to their service. These range from a hot air balloon ride with a romantic sparkling wine breakfast to game drives with sundowners and snacks. In fact there are such an enormous amount of organisations in the hospitality trade in Mpumalanga that are willing to go the extra mile to offer that unique experience, that we're working on a special contribution on this blog about them and would welcome any info on this to be mailed to

As we extend our experience about the restaurants and picnic venues in and around Marloth Park this post will regularly be updated with the latest info. To help us all to keep the information useful and up to date anybody who want to share their experience on the topic must please post it by signing in as a visitor on this blog or send us their interesting knowledge by e-mail to bookings @ This might also go as far as to where did you buy your best meat, biltong, wine, cheese or whatever for a picnic or to try and self prepare a favourite dish from a restaurant at your self catering accommodation.

In the Marloth Park Conservancy there are three (what we know of) restaurants open for the general public. These are all within a short driving distance (between 2 and 10km) from Khaya Umdani and other self catering lodges in Marloth Park. These restaurants each has its own unique rustic African athmosphere and at least two of them also offer the catered option in accommodation. Khaya Umdani has an agreement with Jabula lodge, one of them, for guests wanting to stay at Khaya Umdani but prefer the catered option, to be picked up by open game driving vehicle and to be taken to Jabula for meals – each time along a different route. Although the shortest route is only about 5km the trip to the meal often turn into an experience of its own with the abundant wildlife roaming free in the concervancy. Jabula has the services of an experienced game ranger who often accompanies you on such a trip. His knowledge of the bush and animals lends class to the whole experience. The other two restaurants, Die Watergat and Phumula Lodge each has its own good features with the main theme being "wild frontier".

At Komatipoort, just outside (3km) the Crocodile Bridge Gate of The Kruger National Park and about 15km from the eastern gate of Marloth park There are a few places worth mentioning. The better experience for most visitors driving in that direction might be the restaurant less than halfway to Komatipoort at the well known holiday destination, Ngwenya Lodge, on the banks of the crocodile river. Apart from good food in a brand new upgraded venue the view simply adds an absolute exotic taste to any cocktail.

Of course, if you've got time on your hands and feel like venturing more towards the less westernised African destinations, it is well worth it to take a day trip to Maputo. Being the capital of Mozambique, Maputo, formerly known as Lorenco Marques, still bears the obvious scars of a brutal civil war. Nevertheless the restaurants along the coast is really like unpolished diamonds lying in fertile uncultivated soil. All of them have a general "island style" vibe. The abundance of fresh seafood in Mozambique urges one to bring some home for a feast in the bush at Khaya Umdani or any other self catering lodge in Marloth Park. A good condition toll road of about 70km takes you from the Ressano Garcia Border Post just 2km outside Komatipoort to Maputo. If you plan ahead their is no need to rush back. Contact Louise at to help you. She will be eager (thrilled) to help you to find accommodation along the coast in or within close range of Maputo.

Everything this far mentioned lies in or to the east of Marloth Park. When you travel to the west in the direction of Nelspruit and Johannesburg you'll come along the turn off to the Malelane Gate of The Kruger National Park. From where you join up with the N4 at the Marloth turn-off it is a 10km drive to Hectorspruit. From there it is about another 17km to the Malelane Gate turn-off to your right. This is about 3km before the town of Malelane. Take the turn off and drive through the scenic environment of the Malelane and Leopards Creek golf courses. Just before you get to the Crocodile river you'll find Crockefeller restaurant on your left. This is the place to go for a Sunday lunch buffet. (about 2km from where you left the N4). On the same spot to your right you'll find Hamiltons. This is to our taste and experience the restaurant with the best cuisine and most tasteful combination of flavours that you'll find on any plate within a 50km (if not 500km) radius! Admittedly, you loose a bit of the African bush atmosphere, but surely well worth a visit if you're enjoying something special like a self-catering honeymoon or wedding anniversary.

Carrying on with the N4 you will pass the first robot in Malelane. Turn right at the second and follow the road right down to the T-junction where you turn right. Less than 500 meters on you turn left between a beautiful lane of Francipani Trees to The Deck Restaurant. You have to come here at least once. Whether it's for a breakfast, lunch, just drinks or dinner, be sure that you will like the place. Not really for the food (its not bad) but you'll be sitting on a deck about 25 meters from the waters edge on the banks of the crocodile river. Friendly local waitresses will make sure your glass is full while you're clicking away on the herds of elephants, buffalo, and an abundance of other species that regularly come for their daily drink, ever cautious of the resident crocks and hippos. For a change the call of the fish eagle you hear is not the fake one that's only the ring tone on your phone!

Bagdad, a shopping centre outside Whiteriver has an array of restaurants to suit most tastes and styles. Anything from sushi, pizzas, steaks, burgers, traditional South African cuisine to strawberries and cream or tea and scones can be found here. The prices might hold the more seasoned traveler back from buying, but the wide selection of artefacts, artworks and hand crafted goodies is well worth a stroll through Bagdad.

Whenever you're looking at selfcatering accommodation in the southern Kruger region you should pay us a visit at this blog. There will deffinately be more detailed info on all the restaurants mentioned here.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Skova Owl Research Project

The Skova Owl Research Project can be found in the centre of Hazyview. Did you know that there are only 12 owl species in South Africa? The species we usually see at night are the common Barn Owl and the Spotted Eagle Owl.

The Spotted Eagle Owl is South Africa's 2008 "Bird of the Year".

An identification brochure with descriptions of all 12 owl species is available at the Tourism office at Perry's Bridge Centre in Hazyview.

If owls fascinate you, a visit to The Skova Owl Research Project is an absolute must!

Please contact Lianda Naude : 0721978134

Lions - Kings of the African Jungle

What would a visit to Kruger National Park be without an encounter with the King of Beasts - the powerful and majestic African Lion. Just to give you a taste of what these magnificent creatures are like, and hopefully convince you that your next trip to South Africa should definitely include an extended stay near or in Kruger National Park, I'll present you with a few interesting facts about lions:
  • The largest lion was recorded to be nearly 700 pounds and nearly 11 foot long.
  • The oldest lion on record was nearly 29 years old.
  • A lion's eyesight is five times better than a human being.
  • The name of a male is referred to as a lion or tom.
  • The name of a female is referred to as a she-lion or lioness.
  • The name or offspring, or a baby lion, is a cub, whelp or lionet who live in a lions den.
  • The average size of a litter is two.
  • Fully grown males reach the height of about 4 feet.
  • An adult male weighs between 350 - 530 pounds.
  • A lions lifespan is 15 years in the wild.
  • The lion is the second biggest cat in the world.
  • A lion can run up to 80 km per hour.
  • Lions are native to Africa and Northwest India.
  • There are seven different species of Lions: African, Asiatic, American, Mountain, Cave and White lions.
Khaya Umdani in Marloth Park is the perfect destination for traveller's looking to enjoy the company of African Wildlife right off their doorstep. Unfortunately, lions are not allowed in Marloth Park, but a few odd sightings have occurred, prompting rangers to help the lion back into the Kruger National park or Lionspruit Reserve. Both of these parks are only a few minutes' drive from Khaya Umdani, and the dedicated wildlife enthusiast will have ample opportunity to spot and photograph these great beasts.

Dry Kruger Weather Getting You Down? Just add Water!

Giraffe drinking from Khaya Umdani private waterhole
The rainfall during the summer of 2007/2008 was exceptionally dry in the Mpumalanga region and the natural grazing for animals in the south of the Kruger Park was so scarce during the following dry season that animals had to be relocated to save them from starvation. We decided that something had to be done about the situation, so we took a chance and drilled a borehole at Khaya Umdani...

We were very lucky - not only did we find underground water, we found enough of it to irrigate a large area around Khaya Umdani! What a difference it made. The "Khaya Umdani" region transformed into an oasis in the extremely dry bushveld. The abundance of green food and fresh drinking water attracted hoards of wildlife, from zebras and kudu, to tall giraffes. The picture above was taken at Khaya Umdani's private water hole, where animals come to drink regularly.

We've only had the benefit of the borehole for the last two months of the dry season. It is with great anticipation that we look forward to seeing what difference it will make during the dry winter months of 2009. Khaya Umdani offers luxury Kruger Accommodation in Marloth Park.