REVIEW: Gooderson leisure, Bush Camp, and Dumizulu Cultural Village
Durbanite was recently invited to enjoy a weekend away with Gooderson Leisure.
“Darryl, the Gooderson group PRO from Durban treated us to breakfast and coffee at the Gooderson Tropicano Hotel.
Peter, the driver from “Guest Shuttle Services &Tours” met us and we all left for Hluhluwe. Joining Cheryl and I was Inga, Nichola, Bongiwe, Zama and Darryl.
On the road Darryl supplied us with Juice and water for the 3 ½ hour trip. We left the N2 at the Bushlands offramp and turned right onto a fairly bumpy dirt road.
The entrance road was a beautiful scene between rows of indigenous trees.
We met the manager, Courtney with his dog. Checked in and was taken for a light lunch at the restaurant of sandwiches and salads.
We took a walk back to the chalets along the viewing walk (a raised wooden walkway) and found a herd of buck, a few zebra, wildebeest and 2 giraffes that wouldn’t stop staring at me. Standing in the shade of a tree exchanging looks with around 30 wild animals gave me an immense feeling of peace.
The chalets were tastefully furnished with flower petals all around the room to make you feel special. An unusual but welcome omission was the lack of TV. It really felt good not to have the TV intruding on the peace of the surroundings.
Unfortunately, Cheryl got hit by a bout of vertigo on the trip up and arrived a bit “out of sorts” and retired straight to the room. The care and compassion shown by Courtney, his wife Tracy and the staff was very commendable.
After a rest, Cheryl felt a bit better and went for a walk to the viewing deck off the walkway. What a place for a comfortable nature experience.
We had a rest in the afternoon. Once again it was the wind blowing through the branches and the sound of birds that dominated the experience. Coming from Durban where there is all sorts of background noise. This was absolutely lovely.
We went up to the restaurant for a few pre-dinner drinks.
As entertainment, Siyabonga the ranger managed to call two bush babies to come and eat at the Bushbaby buffet.
Dinner was magnificent and I managed to sample almost everything on the menu. My favourites were the chicken livers, the mushroom and herb pasta and the chicken curry. The potjie was also tasty and tender. I would do an injustice not to mention the roast potatoes that were absolutely scrumptious and loved by everyone present. My compliments to the chef.
Breakfast in the morning was outside on the deck overlooking the pool with the food up to its normal excellent standard.
The check out was friendly and efficient. Talking about friendliness, the staff were all amazing. Always smiling and greeting you with genuine pleasure.
It was around a 10 minute drive to the Gooderson Dumazulu Lodge & Cultural Village for a day of culture, reptiles and game viewing.
We met Fortune, or guide through the reptile and bird park. Fortune was interesting and loved the animals under his care. Highlights were holding the baby crocodiles and the Albino Burmese Python. Zama, one of our group took great courage to hold the snake amidst loud screams of terror. Well done to her.
We then were taken for a Zulu cultural tour through their living village where we were shown different Zulu activities such as Making Spears, Shields, Baskets and bead necklaces. During all of these viewings, we were given a lot of details on reasons and meaning of the different activities. To complete the visit we were treated to demonstrations of Stick Fighting and Zulu dancing.
We had a quick lunch as we were running late for the planned game drive, and then met Siyabonga again who was driving us to the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park which was around a 30 minutes drive away.
Within a few minutes, we had seen Wildebeest and a couple of Rhino, not to mention quite a few Nyala. We then started looking for Elephant. Spotted a few Hippo in the distant Hluhluwe river and drove through a troop of baboons. It was getting late in the day and still no elephant, so we stopped at the Hilltop Camp for refreshments.
As we drove out of Hilltop Camp, not 50 m from the gate, an elephant came over the hill, wandered towards us, and crossed the road right behind us. We were all thrilled that we had seen an elephant and were ready and satisfied to go home.
We were running late to get out the gate by 6 and it was already dark when we passed another 2 elephants right next to the road. Less than a km from the gate we were stopped by 5 or 6 elephants in the road. We weren’t going to get out and ask them politely to move so we just had to wait patiently for them to get off the road before continuing.
By the way, If anyone is going to the park on a game drive from any of the two Gooderson resorts, please ask Siya to be your guide. He was a safe, informative, knowledgeable and observant guide. I can’t praise him highly enough.
We got back to the camp dishevelled and windblown just in time for dinner. The food, as at Bushlands was superb. What made it even more special was that they are cooking on a pop up kitchen since a fire around 2 months ago destroyed the permanent kitchen. We had a lovely chat with Maurice (Dumazulu GM) and his wife Caryn about the resort and their passion about the bush and the resort.
Needless to say, I think we all slept like logs that night.
Breakfast the next morning was up to it’s normal standard and we were joined again by Maurice and Caryn.
We finished the weekend with an obligatory 3 ½ hour drive back to Durban.”