For those of you who are keeping up with our in-depth family holiday around KZN in South Africa, then welcome to the next instalment!
The next stage of our itinerary was, in my mind, the one that I was a little apprehensive about if truth be told. Now my children are very well behaved (if I say so myself), but they are still children, and our next stop was at the beautiful Pakamisa, known for its wonderful fine dining food and amazing Arabian horses. Would either of my little cherubs let me down?
Well, nothing could have been further from the truth. On arrival, we were met by the team who sat us down in reception to go through our plans for the next couple of days and the evening menu choices. I quietly mentioned that Hayden was a very simple eater (translate that to fussy!) and would plain pasta and cheese be possible at dinner? Not a problem at all was the response, which was greeted by a great sigh of relief from me. With that challenge over with it was off to our suite for a long hot soak in the bath whilst Steve took in the amazing uninterrupted views over Zululand and the children chilled out on the bed with a movie.
The suites are massive and split level with the lounge a few steps down from the bedroom. This works well if you are sharing with children as Pakamisa set up 2 single beds in the lounge area giving us all more than enough space to enjoy the suite.
That evening we head back to the main lodge for our drinks before dinner. There is a another British family staying as well who have been at Pakamisa for 2 weeks, just enjoying the easy pace of life. The children excitedly told us about the riding competitions that the staff had set up for them and that the final day of the challenge was tomorrow before they left for the coast. They had had a great time and now Daisy and Hayden were full of excitement too.
Dinner was an absolute delight. Hayden was delighted with his pasta and cheese and Daisy, Steve and I could not fault our Kudu steaks. The flavours, presentation and service were all perfect. To top it all off, the staff were aware that it had been Daisy’s birthday a couple of days earlier and made her the most incredible chocolate cake! One very happy 11 year old.
The following morning, after breakfast, we set off on our very first game walk with Chamu, our guide. This was an ideal way to introduce the children to the African bush and wildlife in a very safe area. There are no predators to worry about, rather just the joy of tracking plains game. Studying footprints, examining dung for its freshness and finally, upon turning a corner, we saw our prize up ahead – a mother giraffe with 2 young giraffes in her care. There is something truly magical seeing the expressions on faces that have never encountered wildlife in its own environment before.
We followed them for some time until finally they wandered off into thicker bush and we returned to our vehicle to head back for a well-earned lunch! After lunch we were back into our game vehicle and heading down to the stables for what turned out to be one of the highlights of our entire family holiday – the safari on horseback.
Neither Daisy nor Hayden had ridden a horse before (I am not counting the pony that they sat on at a friend’s birthday party!), Steve had only ridden once or twice and I am a real novice but the most experienced of us all. Nervous anticipation…
Sarah organised hats and horses for us. Each of the children was led by an experienced rider, Steve was given a slow and reliable horse and an experienced rider to assist him and I was given a beautiful, majestic chestnut that I hoped would do as she was told! In convoy we left the stables to be immediately greeted by a slightly erratic ostrich bearing down on us! At the last minute it swerved to avoid a head on collision – whew! As we moved further away from the buildings we started to encounter a wonderful array of wildlife. We passed warthogs, zebra, impala, nyala and wildebeest in a clearing, who just carried on their business as we passed by. The thrill of getting up close without spooking the animals, because we were on horseback, was incredible.
We rode through the bush and woodland taking in the peace and tranquillity that this remote part of KZN offers travellers.
We finished our action packed day relaxing on our balcony before once again, heading to the bar for drinks followed by another wonderful meal (and pasta and cheese for Hayden) then an early night!
On our last morning we stayed at the lodge to try out some more activities that were new to the children and Steve – archery and rifle shooting at the tiniest of targets. Well, more success as we all realised that first off this was really good fun and secondly we were all rather good at it – particularly the rifle shooting! Many conversations followed about whether this would be the new family past-time once we returned home…
Sadly this was to be the end of our stay at Pakamisa. Everyone grumbled as we left – why did you not book us in for another night mummy? Steve agreed with them and so did I.
When we voted on our top 30 experiences of our entire holiday, this wonderfully quirky lodge that sits atop a hill in remote Zululand featured the most in our top 5 best experiences. Not an obvious choice at first but without a doubt Pakamisa is a must do on a self-drive holiday to KZN.