What do you do when your husband is about to hit a really big milestone birthday… like 40? You hit the road on a family escape.
We were invited to spend a weekend away at Gwahumbe Game and Spa in Mid Illovo, and the timing could not be more perfect. It was an opportunity to celebrate and just chill.
I personally love visiting the bush, any excuse to pack our bags and head out the door, I am in. This would be the first time as a family of 4 we would be on a family vacation, just us.
Gwahumbe is a short hour drive from where we live, which makes it perfect to quickly pack up and shoot out the door. Even with two kids….
This was not our first time visiting the reserve we had done so when I was pregnant with Wyatt. I loved that I got to bring him back with all of us and we got to experience the place with him. Skylar was thrilled her brother was going to the bush with her.
“Are we there yet”… 10 minutes in from the 3-year-old at the back, she had been waiting all day to get going. This made me chuckle as I remembered all the family vacations where I must have irritated my parents saying the same thing.
We arrive and I can’t wait to get out the car and start enjoying our weekend away.
Checked in, we take a short drive to our self-catering accommodation ‘Riverbend’, it situation just away from the main reception and other rooms. Bliss, I love seclusion and feeling like we are a million miles from anywhere.
On waking down the steps we all took a gasp.
– the view
– the view
– the view
And yes that swimming pool!
How quickly could we get our bathing suits on and jump in? Well a record may have been broken that day. Riverbend is lucky to have its own private swimming pool overlooking the rolling green hills. Situated just right to take advantage of the sun setting and hitting the water.
Our accommodation was self catering with 3 bedrooms, with their own en-suite bathrooms. Each can have the option of having two separate single beds or joined to make a king sized. When entering the you walk into the living area and adjoins main bedroom. You take the stairs down to find two rooms. All the rooms have amazing views.
Riverbend even has its own boma area for a braai and fireside chat. Unfortunately we did not get a chance to use it.
After our amazing swim we dressed and drove back to the main reception area for dinner, we chose to dine and test out the restaurant (cause mama did not want to cook).
We were treated to a wonderful 3 coarse meal. The Gwahumbe dining area is formal expect the table setting as such, if your kids are used to coloring in pages and large play areas to entertain them during dinner, they may wiggle a bit. So bring something along to the dinner table to keep their little hands busy during courses. Or you can choose to order in too, and brought to your rooms.
The service was lovely, big smiles and my 3-year-old thought she was really big stuff. The food is definitely worth it, delicious.
time for bed…
When arriving back at Riverbend, we were greeted by a rather rotund little frog, Skylar thought this was the best thing ever. It was now her best friend and she even gave him a name. Remember parents you are out in the bush, there are bugs and frogs and things like that, it’s all part of the experience and teaching our children to respect all creatures.
Skylar was beyond excited to sleep in her big room, with her big bed. We honestly thought we would have her bunking with us, and being to scared to sleep downstairs. Well weren’t we totally shocked! I have never seen her so keen to go to bed, we did not hear a peep, until the next morning, when she walked into our room with a giant smile, and said good morning, its day time!
That morning a soft mist had rolled over the hills, changing the scenery dramatically from the day before, it was the kind of morning that you could just sit with a coffee and stay in bed. Except well, we have kids, those kids were hungry and wanted to go adventuring straight away. Off we headed for breakfast at the reception area. We loved the breakfast buffet and hot breakfast made to order.
Take us to the spa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Lucky for us the kids were able to be looked after and entertained while we went for a lovely spa treatment. Something we have not been able to do as a couple since we have had kids.
The spa at Gwahumbe is a short walk from the main reception area, and you are quickly transported to a Bali/African fusion land of escape. The therapists were so kind, and welcoming. We had a full body massage, it was bliss! The wellness spa is large, with multiple rooms for various treatments, and we loved the decor. It was great to have the experience with my husband, especially for his birthday weekend.
We could have stayed there all day, but I think the kids might have started to miss us – he. Once we got back to our two little ones, we set off on a game drive of the reserve, we had assistant manager Charl be our guide, he has been at the reserve for a couple of year, and knows everything their needs to be know about the best spots to see the game. Charl is also extremely passionate about the bush, which makes the drive enjoyable as you soak in all his knowledge.
Skylar gets super excited on the drive, as she spots all the animals. Her favorite are the Giraffe, she let out a little squeal as we spotted the first few. At Gwahumbe the roads within the reserve do require a 4×4 vehicle, as you traverse the steep hills that descend into the valley. I recommend going on a guided game drive if you don’t have a 4×4, and if you do have your own, then treat yourself to a self-drive and a picnic at one of their many spots.
Other lovely aspects of Gwahumbe is the lovely nature of the staff, they are warm-hearted and make you feel at home. With our crazy kids, running about and taking over, we did not feel out-of-place. Skylar loved running up and down their large lawn area outside the restaurant. They also have a swimming pool and play area for guests to enjoy, bikes to rent and hiking trails.
The reserve has a number of accommodation types from self-catering, hotel to a rustic bush camp. For families I suggest the self-catering options, it is easier to whip up a meal when you children are hungry, we prefered this time to take advantage of the restaurant, it was just nice to have the option to have a kitchen if needed.
Gwahumbe is also very well sought after for weddings and conferences, I can see why! It’s not a long drive away, yet feels like you are a million miles from anywhere. It’s truly a photographers dream, the dramatic landscapes lends its hand to epic photo opportunities.
Those who love the outdoors will enjoy the various activities on offer, from trail running, mountain biking, 4X4, fishing and more.
There is a Junior Ranger Camp on offer to give children an idea into what it would be like to be a game ranger. They offer this camp for children between the ages of 8 and 13, for 2 nights and 3 days.
If you stay in Durban and the great Durban area, I can highly recommend visiting this gem of a reserve.
We hope to visit again soon.
For more information – visit their website http://www.gwahumbe.co.za/