By Nelius Mostert
We were just finishing our December issue and I was still recovering from the scars I had sustained from my “rat race”, when Jenny de Villiers called and invited me to visit her and her family on their farm Blinkwater, just outside Vaalwater.
So that Friday at two o’clock I turned my trusted 2.4 diesel north on the N1, my wife, Trudie, and our two-year-old daughter, Shamoné, with me for company. Our timing was perfect, for there was almost no traffic and we settled in for a comfortable cruise. We had only really started to enjoy the scenery when we took the off-ramp at Kranskop toll gate and turned towards Nylstroom (Modimole) and Vaalwater.
Between these two areas, the road took us through the foothills of the Waterberge, pride of the Limpopo Province. Because of good early rains (the only kind Africa knows, of course), everything seemed to glow with life. Such was the greenery that it was easy to imagine we were driving through Europe.
The moment we stopped at the main entrance of Blinkwater, I knew we were in for a real treat and I felt privileged to have my family with me. They say first impressions are lasting and Blinkwater is a place that gives a very good first impression. Hugo de Villiers, owner and also a successful property developer, ensured that no stone remained unturned in his mission to deliver a high standard. I was astonished at the extent Hugo and Jenny went to create such detail and luxury.
On arrival at the lodge, Jenny showed us real bushveld hospitality with a pinch of the stuff you find at places like Sun City’s Lost City. Before we knew it, our bags had been taken care of by a group of smiling staff, and we were standing on a deck enjoying sundowners under a spectacular sunset, with a beautiful swimming pool, spa bath, garden and a dam at our feet. Some nyala and sable came in for a drink – and the picture was perfect.
That evening Jenny treated us to such stylish cuisine that we all felt like Arabian sheikhs. I could not stay up late, so I chickened out and excused myself from the party. Again I felt like a king as I walked into our chalet. The lodge’s roof had high nocks and was thatched all the way to the ground. This keeps the buildings cool and gives that special smell so characteristic of African game lodges. Our chalet was stylishly equipped with a double bed, single bed, a loft with two three-quarter beds and an outside deck, bathroom with shower, kitchen with microwave, kettle, bar fridge, air conditioning, cocktail cabinet and scullery area, TV, indoor fireplace, outside seating area overlooking the pool and boma braai area, dam and sable feeding. I slept like a child that night.
My first experience of the new day was Shamoné’s breathing on my face, her small hand on my arm, still fast asleep. I smiled even before I opened my eyes.
A cool breeze blew on my skin as I opened the door and closed it softly behind me so as not to wake the ladies. The view over the water and abundance of bird life immediately grabbed me and pulled me into the calmness it had to offer. Two huge waterbuck bulls stood up to their bellies in the water, the sun’s first rays putting them in the limelight. They never even saw me, drank, turned and walked away, showing those unmistakable white ring marks on their backsides.
As I entered the main lodge, I was surprised to find Jenny already there, and ready with fresh coffee and rusks. This couple really love what they do, I thought. After a hearty breakfast, we went on a game drive. The ladies enjoyed the game that stood watching us as only animals on a bowhunting farm can do.
Hugo and I talked about the veld and he showed me all the main landmarks on his property. We stopped at all the waterholes and got out to inspect the hides, which he had planned really well. Blinkwater boasts four waterholes, each presenting the bowhunter with a pit blind and an elevated stand. All the blinds are very spacious and are as good as you can get them.
But Blinkwater also makes it luxurious with enough visibility for the hunter and PH as well as CCTV cameras with remote viewing inside the main lodge so that those who prefer to watch from the comfort of a couch may do so.
I was very impressed with the condition of the veld. Although there are an abundance of impala and a lot of blue wildebeest, blesbuck and zebra, I could see there was plenty of feed for them on which to flourish. All the animals are in perfect condition, and I saw trophy-sized animals available in about all the species.
As we drove around a corner, a tented camp appeared with a beautiful dam right next to it. Hugo was quite humble about it, but Trudie, my wife, said that she would stay there any day. Again the luxury and comfort of the place astonished me. Every tent boasted beds, an en suite bathroom with Victorian bath, fan, gas heater and an outside seating area. Bedding and furniture used were the same as that at the lodge. There were also a bar, kitchen, dining area, spa bath, and separate gents and ladies bathrooms with shower and Victorian bath. Hot water, electricity and a generator are extra bonuses for those who need the comfort.
That afternoon we drove into town, only 15 minutes’ drive away, to watch a buffalo auction. I found it very exciting, but it was over in about 30 minutes. Thereafter we went to a local restaurant to enjoy true Vaalwater hospitality. I could see that my family was really enjoying the whole set-up. The afternoon was hot, so we all took time for a siesta with the air conditioner on full.
I woke up to the sound of thunder, and Shamoné joined me for a relaxing time in the warm Jacuzzi covered with a thatch roof, as it started to rain. That evening we had a great time with some red wine, good friends, laughter and great food.
The next morning after breakfast, my family and I packed to leave. I could tell that Trudie was not too keen to leave. I promised Hugo that we would be back in winter, this time for some hunting, and I know my family would love to join me again.
Blinkwater is one of those places that you should visit at least once in your lifetime. But beware, you might find your road circling back there again and again, and again. For, if you could catch Africa in the palm of your hand and present her to all those who love her, Blinkwater would be the perfect place from which to do so.
If you are interested in visiting this jewel of Africa, please contact Jenny on 083 577 3941 or visit their website at: www.blinkwatergamefarm.co.za