Just under an hour’s drive from Durban, Gwahumbe Game Lodge & Spa offers all who visit it an escape from bustling city life and a glimpse into KwaZulu-Natal’s best-kept secret – the Mid-Illovo region.
My friend Heather and I had been picked up at the airport by rugby player Stefan Terblanche and his wife Jacqui, who’s family owns Gwahumbe. As we wound through the sugar cane fields of Illovo, nearing our destination, the questions began to flow and Jacqui let us in on some of the property’s history.
Owners Neil and Raye Hampson created Gwahumbe with the intention of sharing the area’s natural beauty with all who would appreciate it. The private reserve was originally incorporated into the family’s sugar farm and was then left to revert to its natural state with some help from the wildlife supplied by the Hampsons.
As we drove through the reserve admiring the zebra, antelope and chirping birds, the stress of city life seemed far away. I couldn’t believe that Heather and I – both Natal locals – were experiencing this oasis for the first time.
Thatched roofs welcomed us as we pulled up to Gwahumbe and we were introduced to the rest of the family – all of whom are very involved in ensuring the smooth running of the venue. We had a light lunch before setting off for the day’s adventure – a 4×4 trail drive organised by Bidvest McCarthy Toyota.
“We give roughing it a whole new meaning. Gwahumbe is the perfect destination for 4×4 self-drives and we encourage guests to traverse the entire reserve,” said director Shanon MacKenzie. “It is now not only an extremely popular venue for off-roading and a destination of choice for a number of 4×4 clubs, it’s also a popular venue for television shows, 4×4 launches, conferences and team building. Motor manufacturers regularly visit to test their vehicles here.”
Heather and I opted to experience the trail from the backseat, with Stefan – who was very familiar with the slopes and river crossings – at the wheel. The trail was nine kilometres long and consisted of a number of different options – easily filling our afternoon with fun obstacles and excellent views of the Gwahumbe Valley.
After a day of exploring the property and a hearty meal, we were ready for bed and we weren’t disappointed by the room that awaited us. With crisp linen, a modern bathroom and a view of the valley that was difficult to look away from, a restful night is guaranteed.
Our stay concluded with a visit to the spa, which offers treatments from massages to pedicures at reasonable prices.
I (reluctantly) left Gwahumbe to return to my life in the city feeling thoroughly relaxed and rejuvenated. It was certainly an experience I won’t forget!
For more information on Gwahumbe, visit their website, call: 031 781 1083 / 087 150 3475 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Images courtesy of Gwahumbe Game & Spa.