RiverBend Lodge: No bone left unturned…

LOTS of Fever trees! My favourite!


My trip to the Eastern Cape to
discover if it was a “ Big 5” destination continues…
RiverBend lodge was originally opened as a B & B back in 1999 and being adjacent to the Addo National Elephant Park, is on a 75 year lease from SANPARKS.
Seeing that the land is owned by SANPARKS, they are allowing owners to only stock those species that were historically were found in the area…hence no Impala or Giraffe!
The camp is very Colonial in nature with all the building and decor reflecting an era when High Tea was taken while watching vast herds of elephants crossing the open plains!
That was just before the Government of the day decided that the elephants were a nuisance and had to be eradicated.
When the smoke cleared and the last shot was only a distant echo, only 11 elephants remained. Luckily for visitors to the area that group has now grown to almost 550!
Had I been a Royalist, the highlight during my  visit might have been the Royal wedding of Kate and William, however a hyena kill that morning trumped the pomp and circumstance of that
particular event…but I am straying from the my topic…
The genteel nature of the gardens is reflected in both the bedrooms and the public areas of the property.
A formal lounge with an upstairs library (together with fireplaces in BOTH) are great places to while away idle hours, should you have a few of those to ‘spare’ between game drives.
At most of the camps that I visit my early morning wake up call is usually the LOUD intrusive ringing of a telephone, but not at RiverBend lodge…
A discreet knock at your door at the appointed time by your ranger bearing a tray of PROPER coffee and biscuits is how it is done there!
Even though my visit was in winter and the fact that the area was in the grip of a drought, the vegetation was still very green and the animals were in really good condition.
The lodge has traversing rights into Addo Elephant Park and it was here, on my first morning drive that we came across the Hyena kill I alluded to earlier ( see my Blog about the kill)…once again, I had missed the actual ‘take down’ but what was left of the carcass was still VERY fresh!
On the rest of that drive I was fortunate enough to see  a pair of Secretary birds nest building and many elephants!
Our vehicle spent some time watching three lions guarding a warthog burrow…I was hoping to see a kill, but as the events would have unfolded too far away our ranger decided to move on.
Another innovation at RiverBend is the brunch that is on offer…the likes of which I have not seen before at any lodge!
Most game drives return before 11am, meaning that you can have breakfast if you want or you can have a burger…or you can have both if you feel so inclined. The lodge manager suggested that I have breakfast and then return at 1.30 and have lunch as both are available off the same menu…a good suggestion.
RiverBend lodge has mountains, valleys and open plains and we where able to enjoy drives through all of these areas.
The scenery is breath taking and although Diceros Bicornus Bicornus eluded us we did get to see a variety of game species not normally seen in the Northern Parks.
The main draw card for families is the fact that the lodge is extremely child friendly to all ages. There are car seats that can be put into the Land cruisers if required and families are usually given their own vehicle depending on the age of the children
 There is a dayroom with kiddies magazines and DVD’s to keep them occupied and when they are ‘square-eyed’ there is an indoor and outdoor play area situated near reception (and away from the main guest areas…very thoughtful!)
Because of their proximity to Port Elizabeth (less than 70kms) it can also be used as a ‘springboard’ to indulge in a variety of other activities, like whale, dolphin and shark excursions which the lodge will organize together with a charter based in Algoa bay.
Day trips to the owner’s private game reserve (which does have Impala and Giraffe) can also be accommodated.
This visit certainly re-enforced my view that the Eastern Cape should be better marketed as a MALARIA FREE game-viewing destination.
My thanks to lodge manager Stef and Ranger Joe for an enjoyable and interesting stay
The total experience was superb and if you are planning a trip to the Eastern Cape I highly recommend that that you include a visit to RiverBend Lodge.
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Contact details:
Tel: 0422338000