We booked a 2 night package at Botlierskop, staying in a delux tent. It's set in the foothills of the Outinequa mountains north of Mossel Bay, with the main lodge set up on a cliff with views across some of the reserve and to the mountains. We arrived just before 12.30 and were taken to the Main Lodge where our itinerary was explained. Our first game drive was to take place after 'high-tea' with the elephants - starting at approx 2pm. We had lunch (complimentary) but otherwise were left to ourselves - leaving us feeling a bit like 'spare parts'. We had to ask to be taken to our room so that we might change before events started which was a bit frustrating.
High-tea with the elephants was simply a glass of sparkling wine and some nibbles while the 'trained' elephants (2 adults and one 2 yr old) stood about 20 yards away, kept in check by their trainers. This felt a bit token - certainly nowhere near to the experience of coming across a wild herd of elephants that you might get in bigger game parks, nor the close-up experience you can have, including feeding the elephants themselves, at somewhere like the Knysna Elephant Park. However, it was a way to meet the rest of the group that would be accompanying us on the next two game drives.
The afternoon game drive took us around a portion of the reserve (some 3000 ha in size). There were 8 of us in the party, on a comfortable landrover, driven by our guide (Jancke). We saw groups of impala, including black impala, lots of wildebeest, bontebok, eland, kudu, and then stopped for a cold drink within sight of 3 giraffe, a couple of cape mountain zebra and a dopey ostrich. Not quite a sundowner as it was too early for that - which was a shame perhaps. We were taken back to the main lodge where others went on to the lion drive - we opted to head back to the tent to shower before dinner. Getting to and from our lodge involved asking for a ride (in a golf buggy) - which staff were always happy to do - driving across a portion of the reserve to the river, which we then crossed by pulling across a floating platform. The tents are lovely - ours was set close to the river, with steps up to a small 'balcony', and containing a four-poster double bed, fridge, air conditioning, bathroom including a double shower outside. The tents feel quite private other than late at night when the noise of other guests heading back to their tents can be irritating. There is wildlife around the tents.. we returned on a couple of occassions to find a deer and a bok grazing near our tent, and heard hooves trundling past just outside early one morning.
We returned to the main lodge for dinner - where a large fire was lit in an outdoor area on the cliff edge - this was very pretty to look at and created some atmosphere - but otherwise the 'atmosphere' was very limited - you could have simply been sat in any hotel. The food was wonderful and plentiful - dinner comprised soup, a sorbet, salad and then buffet selection of meats (cooked for you as you waited by a wonderful chef) - choice included crocodile tail, ostrich, wildebeest, hardebeest, kudu, beef, chicken etc. The wine selection is limited - and disappointingly for us comprised many south african wines that can commonly be bought at a fraction of the price back in the UK.
We went on the early morning game drive the next morning - more of the same in terms of the animals (and also sadly the same commentary), and a chance to stop for a cup of coffee half-way around. Breakfast at the lodge was lovely with plenty of fresh fruit, yoghurts, breads, and cooked foods available to choose from. Mid-morning we had a river cruise - a simple ride in the boat up and down the short stretch of river in the reserve. This was sweet but offered nothing more in terms of any additional wildlife viewings.
We went on the lion drive - which involves a large group being put into a truck with high sides, and driven up to a seperate fenced off area where 3 lions live. This was a disappointment - the lions are some of the fattest I've seen, and the highlight for most people was seeing the 'dead horse' that was provided as food rather than the lions themselves - again, little comparison to the experience available at a larger game reserve.
The next morning involved a horse ride - a 2 hr ride on well-behaved and fairly docile horses around a portion of the estate. This was a good chance to approach some of the animals much more closely than otherwise is possible, and we crept up on some waterbuck including a young calf - but otherwise for the bulk of the ride it was simply that - a horse ride to look at some lovely scenery.
All in all we enjoyed Botlierskop.. we were staying around the Western Cape and didn't want to travel further afield - and just wanted a bit of luxury and the chance to see some game. We knew this was simply a small private reserve and so weren't expecting full 'safari' - if we had then we certainly would have been disappointed! However, we did feel that the reserve could make the experience just that bit more special - ensuring that guests aren't left feeling like 'spare parts' on arrival e.g. offering coffee / tea on arrival instead of having to ask for it, arranging for guests to see their rooms and have the chance to change before the first drive. Also by trying to create some kind of atmosphere in the evenings - the location is magical and even just some more imaginative choice of 'muzak' would have helped remind folk that they were in Africa! It is a lot of money considering the 'experience' on offer - and a shame that all drinks had to be paid for - simply providing free soft drinks would help make guests feel a bit more special.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Situated between Mossel Bay and George, Botlierskop Private Game reserve offers a great diversity of wildlife with more that 26 different animal species and over 200 bird species. Botlierskop reserve is stretching over 3500 ha of mountains and grasslands. Overnight in luxury tented suites situated close to the river. Each of the 17 air-conditioned luxury-tented suites at Botlierskop is elegantly decorated in a romantic colonial theme with 4-poster beds draped with mosquito nets. The en-suite bathrooms are lavishly equipped with deep baths and an outdoor bush shower with stunning views. The Manor house on the reserve has 7 rooms with views over the plains and good game viewing opportunities. Some rooms has baths and showers some only showers. Activities offered includes, guided game drives, horse back safaris, bush walks and spa treatments. Game includes lions, elephants, buffalo's, rhino'giraffes, black impala, zebra and many more. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Botlierskop Private Game Reserve Hotel Mossel Bay