It seems the weather gods ruling the #iSimangaliso roost have a rather warped sense of humour. I mean, why the heck else would they strafe us with 150mm of rain on our first two days up here on the KZN coast? In the greater scheme of things, the region did need the rain, and I’ve never seen quite as lush and alive as this year.
The beauty here in this incomparable #WorldHeritage Wetlands Park is that the weather does not really matter. There’s an underlying energy in this place that makes it bigger than the climatic conditions and you can be in the moment, even in the most tempestuous of downpours.
An elegantly rustic central dining and bar lounge – with access to a tropical garden and pool area – welcome you upon arrival at this classy @wearewilderness lodge. From this ambient open-plan centre, meandering pathways traipse into the surrounding sand forest to where your hideaway luxury tents await.
This is arguably one of #iSimangaliso’s most ‘secret’ establishments, and it comes packaged with a sense of utter peace and tranquillity. Even the vervet monkey chatter here seems subdued, and at night an aural blanket of insect- and other night noises surges in a many-layered symphony of sounds through your subconscious as you waver upon the edge of dreamland.
It is impossible to capture every brilliant moment that we had here as a family, but these are five of the experiences that are sure to remain in our collective memories for many years to come -:
1) Swimming in the wild roil of the Indian Ocean upon an absolutely deserted beach, with cyclonic rain sheeting in from the horizon while the kids buckaroo’d about in the crash of white-water waves.
2) Watching two osprey fishing hawks engage in an aerial ballet over a fish, high above the wide and whipped-up Sibaya Lake, while a woolly-necked stork strutted about the water’s edge.
3) The Forest Walk with Gibson, who showed the kids how to make tooth brushes from palm twigs, while he shared his encyclopaedic bush wisdom in his trademark, measured way.
4) The fabulous food and impeccable level of service from every staff member at #RockTailBay; this is a truly content and well-managed establishment, and this contributes hugely to the energy and equilibrium one finds here.
5) Trail running along a bush tunnel network of forest trails, amidst a myriad of indigenous trees and surrounded by bird- and wild life. Occasional glimpses of iGwalaGwala touracos, shy red duikers and bounding monkeys make for a stunning run, eventually popping out onto the windswept beach where stalk-eyed ghost crabs scuttle away at your approach.
The exhilarating drive back along the sand road blasts you through metre-deep pools, and I’m only sad that we did not get to experience the snorkelling, scuba, ocean outings and turtle drives that are the signature activities at #RockTailBay.
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