thabaledeThabaledi – Mountain of the stars

By Rean Steenkamp

Karla had her crossbow’s sights on a huge blue wildebeest and just had to squeeze the trigger, but there were so many animals she could not get a clear shot. The arrow would probably have shot right through the beast and struck another animal behind it.
We were in a blind at Thabaledi. Thabaledi means ‘mountain of the stars’ – and the game ranch is certainly appropriately named, since it is indeed a star among the mountains. Not only is it well stocked with game animals but it is also a beautiful farm with well-developed facilities and friendly hosts.

I received an email from Patrick and Tersia Loots about two months ago, inviting Harry Marx and I to Thabaledi. Tersia said, ‘Bring your families along, and if you are out of venison, bring your bows.’ We needed no more encouragement. Soon we were off to the game ranch – our families and bows on board.
Harry was to hunt for impala and I was to sit in the blind with my youngest daughter, Karla. Karla is eleven years old, turning twelve in October. Her older sisters have both taken game with their bows and crossbows and now it was Karla’s turn to be initiated into the hunting pack.

I wanted her first kill to be perfect and would therefore take no chances. I guess this was probably one of the reasons she did not make her first kill that weekend. Another reason was the fact that the wind was constantly changing direction. Cold weather was moving in and this created thermals. When the animals did come in, they did so in great numbers and they were jittery – constantly moving, shifting position and never standing still long enough for the poor girl to get a clear shot.

Harry was much luckier than Karla. He shot a huge impala ram that weighed in at no less than 40,5 kg after it was slaughtered. He also shot an impala ewe on the second day.

We certainly enjoyed our stay at the game ranch. Thabeledi has twelve upmarket air-conditioned units that comfortably accommodate four to eight people in a two- or four-bedroom layout. Some of the chalets have a loft and one of the chalets can accommodate ten people. These luxury chalets, which in truth are houses, are nuzzled alongside a densely vegetated koppie, offering a home-away-from-home feel with breathtaking views of the not-too-distant Waterberg Mountains. Each chalet consists of a master bedroom with a king-size bed and a second bedroom with single beds. All chalets have en suite bathrooms. All the houses are fully furnished and stocked with all the requirements that one might need – including a 40-inch LED TV and satellite. My daughters certainly did not experience a dull moment. With day and night drives, nature walking trails, bird watching, swimming pool, games room, kiddies’ play area and DStv, there were more than enough activities to keep them busy. The game farm also boasts a fully stocked shop to provide
all one’s catering needs.

Thabaledi is owned by Norman Andrew and Gerald Ras and is managed by Patrick and Tertia Loots – two people who are well known as target archers and bowhunters. Being very hospitable and friendly, they certainly know how to make one feel welcome, comfortable and at ease on the game farm.

Thabaledi is a birdwatcher’s paradise. Some of the species to be seen on the game farm are helmeted guineafowl, Swainson’s francolin, red-winged starling, red- and yellow-billed hornbills, red-chested cuckoo, woodlands kingfisher, violet wood hoopoe, long-tailed shrike, African paradise flycatcher, black-shouldered kite, jackal buzzard, pale chanting goshawk, greater kestrel, giant eagle owl, pearl-spotted owl, barn owl, African scops owl and many more.

We all enjoyed our stay at Thabaledi. I will certainly return to this game farm every year.

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