Travel Match goes from Bush to Berg!!!

by Louise McAucliff
Ed’s Note: Our  Travel Match travellers spent a weekend traveling from Misty Hills in Muldersdrift to Monate Lodge in Limpopo.  And this is their exciting experience as told by one of the travellers, Louise.
Misty Hills
What a way to start a weekend – even though I was late for dinner by about 2 hours – I managed to taste some of the exotic cuisine on offer at Carnivore, Misty Hills County Hotel, Conference Centre and Spa, situated in Muldersdrift, just outside Johannesburg in Gauteng.

Walking through the entrance took a little longer than expected – there was so much to look at. Thank goodness I did not have my camera with me as I could easily have spent half an hour taking in all the interesting decor sights, filling my SD card, that was to last me the whole weekend.

Crocodile was all that was left of the unusual fare. I plated a small portion as well as a slice of beef, a pork sausage and some pork ribs. The sausage was perfectly sweet as pork normally is. The ribs delish. Beef was beef. The crocodile I must admit tasted like spare ribs to me but I am not exactly a foodie of note. I appreciated the tender soft meat but not the cartilage which I had to keep removing as I was chewing. Must be honest I am not sure if I would indulge in this creature again but the sausage will definitely find its way onto my plate.

Next on the agenda was to check in. It again took a few minutes to get to the reception desk as the decor was spectacular. A mix of modern African artworks, bronzes, paintings, tapestry upholstery gilded furniture, exquisite mirrors, orchids and the ceiling detail which you could just sit and look at all day in a comfy green leather chair drinking copious amounts of tea or bubbly.

The reception staff were extremely accommodating regards to our late check-in. Thank goodness we were escorted to our room by Trevor because I would never have found it myself in the dark. I seemed to have copious amounts of luggage too – absolutely no idea why I had to take along my kitchen sink.

Shrouded in lush greenage, the thatched roof accommodation, was demurely lit with a seemingly yellow tinge. I gasped as I entered. This truly beautiful environment complete with plush furnishing and perfect colour scheme, is only 20 minutes from my home, and I have never been here before.

I immediately decided that it is the perfect destination to get away from home for an overnight weekday break or weekend. Actually anytime really.

I slept like a log not only because I was dead tired, but because the bed and pillows were so comfortable – had I not set two alarms I probably would not have woken up as the drapes were the perfect black out curtains that did not let a shred of light into the room.

Breakfast was planned for 8am. We dined in the breakfast room. Cosy and open. The breakfast menu is fairly new and revamped. New chef creating dishes that do not often appear on a breakfast menu.

Our agenda dictated that we be ready for a site inspection at 9am, perfect timing as I finished the last mouthful of my tea.

It was during the walk about to discover the conference facilities that I decided Misty Hills should be renamed Mystery Hills. There was something mystical and beautiful around every corner as we walked up and down, round about, here and there, exploring this vast destination and all it had to offer.

Not sure if it is real or not but I spotted a nudist bathing spot close to the Spa. No naked bodies lying around as we wandered around the area.

The one hour allocated to our adventure of discovery turned into three. I skipped the last leg of the tour up to the obstacle/team building course, and opted for a yummy cup of cappuccino, at the GIN BOX Coffee Shop, which looked like the perfect venue to serve afternoon high tea complete with cucumber sandwiches and lots of sweet mouth size treats.


I should have requested Trevor’s services again to drag all of my belongings back to my car. I will not make that mistake again – well maybe but only when I take my own trolley along.

Ideal for just about all conferencing needs in the greater Johannesburg area, complete with extremely comfortable and plush accommodation, Misty Hills County Hotel, Conference Centre and Spa, should be researched before you consider travelling much further afield than what just may be on your doorstep, like I discovered myself.

Driving away and heading towards Bela Bela, I felt a little sad because I knew that I had only seen a fraction of what Misty Hills actually had on offer. I definitely needed another night there to discover its delights plus a spa treatment or two!

Contact details

MISTY HILLS
Muldersdrift Estate
69 Drift Boulevard (R114)
Muldersdrift
Gauteng
South Africa
Tel: +27 (0)11 950 6000 or +27 (0)861 732 237
or email sales@rali.co.za


Monate Game Lodge and Conference Centre

I am going to be honest game farms are just not my thing – I kind of feel like if you have seen one buck you have seen them all, but WOW arriving at Monate Game Lodge and Conference Facility in Limpopo, and being welcomed by Annalize and her team was something else.
Hospitality and warmth exuded as they checked us in and we were escorted to our deluxe accommodation – with one step, I was transported from the bush into a plush ‘Manhatten’ feel penthouse, as I placed my foot onto the hide of an animal skin just inside the door.
Ten out of ten for whomever oversaw the revamp a couple of years ago – the rooms look like they have just recently been renovated. Even though I was here at the end of Autumn, I just knew that this room would be cool at the height of our African summer. I just love crisp white linen and the clean lines. Stylish, simplicity and no unnecessary clutter in the rooms with touches of Africa tastefully strewn about the space.
We had arrived late at the 1839 hectare private reserve, and our itinerary had to be stepped up significantly. Next on the agenda was lunch. Again not quite what I expected on the menu in the middle of the African heartland. Homemade chicken pie and/or lasagne with a side of salad – I wanted to go back for seconds of both but I felt self-conscious but next time, if I am fortunate to return I am not going to let that stop me.
Next we were ushered off to the game drive vehicle. Our little party of nine, all jolly, complete with something warm because as they sun goes down, it gets chilly out here in the bush. The vehicle was also equipped with fluffy blankies.
Our friendly guide Jaun’s brain contained a wealth of information about the birds (and bees) and trees on this pre-winter landscape. My companions were enthusiasts of all of this. I just wanted to move on and see the animals. It was slow going for me but it is not all about ‘me’ and I am realising this more and more as I go through life.
The highlight of the drive for me was the hippos. Five beautiful creatures wallowing in a dam complete with crocodiles and plenty of birdlife for company. We stopped at the water hole and partook of some ice cold refreshments – some with alcohol content and not.
Just after sun set we moved onto a bush camp where we were going to have dinner. As we arrived, staff assembled and welcomed us with song and dance plus the beat of a drum. The camp was so beautiful. White bulbs hung from high and created a fairy like atmosphere. Camp chairs circled a roaring fire safely contained in a boma. Further afield tables were set up with white tablecloths and silver wear that looked so out of place, BUT NOT, in this bush environment. White comfy couches bordered the entertainment area softly lit with candles. I did not get the chance to slouch up there. If I had I know that I probably would have fallen asleep – just looked far to comfortable to take that chance.
Dinner included a crispy crumbed encrusted prawn starter – quite delish – then steak and chicken kebabs complete with sides of salads and butternut cous cous. I could not help myself as I started off with desert first – sago pudding with custard. I did not partake of the custard because I am such a diehard fan of sago au-natural, and I was not disappointed.
The setting was incredible. I felt like we were the only people on the earth. There we were in an isolated beautiful spot on the African continent. So peaceful with sounds of wild life around us and of course my over exuberant nature making more noise than all of us put together.
I was fortunate to be with an awesome bunch of travel companions. It could not have been have been more perfect until we woke up the next morning, and experienced what the new day had to offer us.
Another game drive which excited me more, because not only were we going to have breakfast in a cave but we were to visit some ancient cave artwork too. Again my companions relished sightings of trees and we did see some incredible and majestic buck who stood in the middle of our path – giving us a glimpse of their beauty but not quite long enough for me to switch my camera on and get a shot. Dammit I should just have left my camera on all the time.
We did so much in the short time we were at Monate Game Lodge, that right now as I write, I have just realised that I did not mention seeing the pride of lions, complete with their king Musafa, who we had seen the day previously.  We took another ride past the pride of five, mum, dad, two cubs and another female lion who had just been fed. Musafa had taken his warthog and run off into the bushes so we missed him however the two lionesses and the cubs were feasting on a buck. They got a little camera shy after a while and moved ten or so metres away from us, the spectators, as we delighted in feasting our own eyes on these bold creatures, whose faces were drenched in the blood of their breakfast. It is not often that you get to observe this scene so up close and personal. It was personal. They were so close that if one concentrated hard enough, I am sure we could have smelt the natural scent of their hides.
All that feasting in front of us made us a little hungry – so we moved onto another highlight of our experience at Monate. Breakfast in a cave. A cave that was situated on top of a mountain. Glorious views. A breakfast feast designed to set you up for the day complete with crispy bacon, scrambled and boiled eggs plus cereals, yoghurts, fruits and an array of breads and croissants plus jams, cheeses, crackers and more. It all tasted better than I have ever had before. Maybe because we were seated in a cave, again with white linen and silverware, with half a dozen bats just around the corner.
I am a little too adventurous for my own good at times. When I heard about those bats I just had to go and take a photo. I ventured a little too close to their comfort space and suddenly four bats flew at me. I don’t think I have ever screamed at such a high pitch. My travel companions were wondering what was going on and were alarmed. I found myself trapped that part of the cave as two of the bats were hanging from the ceiling in the entrance to the enclosed area I was in, and two of them behind me. What to do in that situation I wondered. Fortunately I had a scarf which I pulled over my heard and I just ran for freedom. I apologise to the little bats. It was their home and I should have minded my own business. I got a bit of a fright but I think the bats considering their size to me, were a little more alarmed than I deserved to be.
Resident lion Musafa treated us to the sight of him drinking at the enclosures water hole which is clearly visible from the cave, which could be transformed into a very unusual conference venue or intimate wedding venue. I personally would love to spend an evening up there under the stars with a deck chair and a sleeping bag, savouring the African wonderland around me.
Monate’s conference facilities double up as a wedding venue. One particular room with a beautiful window feature above the towering arch shaped door which is a spectacular chapel. All areas are crisp and white. Light and airy. A canvas that you could do so much with, or just enjoy the freshness of what it actually is.
Monate have won awards for a tree that grows on the property where many a bride and groom have taken their vows. It is quite spectacular.
My favourite part of our exploration of Monate Game Lodge was the cave art. No sorry it was breakfast in the cave. Actually it was the accommodation. Maybe the bush dinner. Oh my word that lasagne and chicken pie were divine. Monate was just incredible. The staff faultless and could not have done more to make us welcome and comfortable. If I were ever to get married then I would struggle to decide if it would be under the award winning tree or in the cave atop a mountain at sunset.
Monate Game Lodge deserves to be explored by anyone with a creative and inquisitive nature. So much to see and indulge in. Spa treatments available. Jacuzzi’s, pools, walking tours, bird watching plus so much more that we did not have the time to partake of.
Just before we left we indulged in what felt like a last supper – it was however lunch and on the menu was fish and chips with a side of salad. It felt like a last supper as I was sad to leave this spectacular place.
As we drove out of the reserve, the giraffes came to bid us farewell as well as ostrich who had alluded us during the game drives.
I would have loved to stay another night or two however I needed to get back to the rat race known as Johannesburg, where I spent the week in the protest torn areas of Ennerdale, Eldorado Park, Fine Town and Matholesville, being fired on by rubber bullets, tear gas, stun grenades and pelted with golf balls, marbles and rocks. The life of a journalist is not pretty but brief getaways to places like Monate Game Lodge make it all worth it – you forget about all the troubles of the world as you sit back, kick off your boots and take in the true beauty of our continent.
Monate Game Lodge is located approximately two hours drive from Johannesburg and 160km from Pretoria.
Booked already with 32 weddings this year, it is a special treat for an exclusive romantic getaway, or to take advantage of the conference facilities. I would head back there in a heartbeat. I hope that when I do that I see you there.
Contact details – www.monatelodge.co.za
Emailinfo@monatelodge.com Phone+27 14 718 7000 Cell+27 83 307 5733

The Traveller

As a worldwide traveller with an eye for something different, I started Travel Match. This initiative matches the Corporate Buyer or Event co-ordinator/Marketing Manager to not only share experiences with each other during an educational but also opens up a world of different ideas. Venues and activities now have a chance to meet buyers on a social level before getting down to business. I design educationals around fun and intuitive thinking and the Travel Match members love them.

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