Saturday, 16 January 2010

On Safari

In the heart of the Kruger Park, on the banks of the Sabie River, lies a boutique Safari Camp called Tinga. Its gracious owner Anthony Marx looks the real McKoy dressed in his bush suit next to red faced Night Rider. The camp is laid out as a number of luxurious but tasteful huts reached by a wooden walkway from central facilities; they are constructed from local materials and blend in well to the bush surrounding them with each having a viewing deck looking own towards the Sabie River.

Our first encounter with nature was nearly the Blonde's last. Having spotted a young bull elephant making his way up from the Sabie, towards our hut, she decided to jump over the low electric fence and venture out into the bush to get a closer shot of it ( with her camera of course ). Being cowardly by nature, I quickly dismissed the idea of rescuing her myself in favour of calling for one of the game rangers. One eventually appeared and was able to persuade the blonde to clamber back over the right side of the wire.

Later the same ranger took us on a day's tracking where we came close up to a group of hippos bathing and the Sabie River, a white rhino relaxing in the bush and a large cheetah eating its kill in a tree. Only one of the big five that failed to appear on cue, were the lions, but nevertheless an impressive round up.

However the other guests were a strange bunch; in particular, the blonde and I were lumbered with a friendly but very elderly couple from Johannesburg and a couple of Jehovah's Witnesses from Houston, Texas. The latter were very heavy going and its a mistake of the camp to make people on the same game drives also have to dine together in the evening. Enough is enough and i would have appreciated to get the opportunity to chose my company.

The food too was on the whole very disappointing; rather than trot out simple South African cooking the chef clearly wanted to show that he ( or she ) had been to a chi-chi cooking school. For instance, a delicious rack of Karoo one dinner was ruined by what was called a "mint and balsamic reduction", that in its effort to be sophisticated, merely rendered the meat cloying and tasting like it had been marinated in cough medicine.

Tinga has great potential and is real luxury in a stunning bush and river setting. however, lack of hands-on management seems to pervade the whole place and Anthony Marx was only evident one evening for cocktails. He told me that he is in the process of changing the management company; good luck with that Anthony and i may return to see if its made the difference between enjoyable and sublime !

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