Resuming my delayed travelogue, the thrills of zip-lining through the forest were followed by the ennui of another long car journey from Storms River to Addo, beyond Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.
We decided to stop off about halfway at Jeffery’s Bay, mainly because it is known as a surfer’s paradise and darling daughter is now a surfing dude.
Perhaps we missed the best bits, but the town appeared a bit dog-eared round the edges and there was the smell of fish and chips in the air. A down-at-heel seaside town that had known better days, like Southport, but without its sense of fun.
We stopped off at Surf Africa, the sport setting certain style standards that Miss P is working hard to maintain with the help of the Bank of Mum and Dad.
We got chatting the owner, a round, jolly woman who had visited England and knew where Manchester was because of her stay in Nottingham. I guess when you live in such a huge country, the two cities must have seemed just round the corner from each other.
Knowledge of geography aside, her recommendation of a place to eat was spot on. It was a place called IИFood and the meal was excellent. At some point, I really must write more about the standard of food in SA which has all been fabulous.
Back on the road, we drove to Port Elizabeth and then turned north towards Addo, pronounced Add-oh and not Add-oo that I had stuck in my head.
The road out of Elizabeth was narrow, but mettled, and the driving was easy until we turned off onto an unsurfaced road towards our destination. The heavy rain in the province in previous days had rippled the clay roadway and now that it had dried, it was like driving on corrugated iron.
Another turn took us onto an even dustier, rutted highway until we finally reached the gates of Addo Dungbeetle and a long, straight, tree lined track through a lemon farm and the inevitable electric security gates.
I seem to have started a few of my descriptions with the words “I don’t know what we were expecting…” so I’m going to avoid them here, except to say that we were expecting a guest house — fading wallpaper, breakfast eight till nine, grim-faced landlady, that sort of thing — not a luxury lodge set in an enormous citrus farm bordering the Addo Elephant Reserve.
It had a collection of air-conditioned chalets, a gym and a central leisure area. There was a jacuzzi and large rock pool next to a reeded pond teeming with bird life.
And the grim-faced owners turned out to be a a delightful couple, Rod and Magna Van Heerden. Both had grown up in the local Sundays River area and had run a lodge in Limpopo before returning home to be nearer to their families.
The Dungbeetle had previously been an occasional retreat for one of Rod’s old school teachers who had given him a partnership to develop it as he wanted to, and what a good job he has made of it.
We weren’t staying in the chalets, but in Rod and Magna’s latest venture — a group of rustic cabins hidden away in the citrus trees — opened in July 2010 in time for the World Cup.
The rustic description applies to the building materials — logs, branches, a traditional thatched roof and other natural materials — but we were far from uncomfortable with all modern facilities.
There was electric lighting and sockets, an outdoor kitchen, complete with a hob, fridge and running water. A spiral of paling led to an outdoor shower, the shower head nestling in a tree, while another spiral brought you to our loo with a view.
The deck outside the cabin had a large built-in braai and a stack of logs from orange trees ready to burn and cook your food. Sadly, we were completely unprepared in that regard and the nearest supermarket was 56kms away!
The panorama above tries and fails to give some idea of the vastness of the view and the Zuurberg Mountains in the distance. We had two nights at the Dungbeetle which have been among our most idyllic in South Africa and we wished we could have stayed for a week.
As a footnote, the name of the lodge is taken from that of the citrus farm, Miskruier, a rare flightless dungbeetle that they have been reintroducing to the area since 2006.