Travel Guide, Winter 1995-1996
The Era of Green Rule
South Africa goes eco
By Mike Steere
With self-styled Stanleys rushing to South Africa, new and evermore exquisite accommodations are popping up to keep pace. Forest Lodge is this season’s latest opus in private, 6,880-acre Phinda Resource Reserve, on the Indian Ocean in Natal Province 350 miles southeast of Johannesburg. The 16-suite Japanese-style lodge mingles with torchwood trees in a sand forest, one of
Phinda’s seven ecosystems. Forest Lodge and its sibling, Nyala Lodge, eight miles away in Phinda’s open highlands, make the best recreational use of this diversity. Besides big-game watching, there’s scuba diving in the ocean, canoeing on the Mzinene River, birding, stream fishing, and flight-seeing over wetlands and lakes. Everything is covered in the $330-per-person daily price
at Forest Lodge (rooms at Nyala start at about $275), including three meals served as patrician bush picnics or lavish indoor sit-downs. Book in the U.S. through Abercrombie & Kent (800-323-7308 or 708-954-2944).
Masters of the Bush
Wannabe big-game guides get their Africa downer and dirtier in Sabi Sabi Reserve, a private wild tract on the western border of Kruger National Park in the northeast. Sleep in relatively spare camps and spend your days learning tracking skills, Land Rover handling, and general moves for staying alive in lowveld bush country thick with game–Africa’s “Big Five” (lion, leopard,
elephant, rhino, and buffalo), plus cheetah, wild dogs, giraffes, and hippos. The two-day, three-night program ($585 per person) isn’t really meant to turn tourists into rangers, but it’s a bracing exposure to wild Africa. Contact Travelways in Minnesota (800-876-3131).
A new two-week, fat-tire romp through the southern Cape Region ends with a bizarre look at Africa reaching toward the Antarctic. At Cape Point Nature Preserve, where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic, bikers can behold baboons and penguins on the same seacoast. Leading up to this eco-epiphany, the 400-mile ride takes in a mountain forest haunted by elephants, an extensive cave
system, a series of linked lakes, and the Stellenbosch wine country. It’s a hilly road trip with technical tours de force in high-country inland, where bike jocks can get as extreme as they want on single-track trails. Trips leave October 16, November 13, January 19, February 14, and March 17; land cost is $1,550 per person. Contact Bikeabout Cycle Tours (011-27-21-531-3274).