On our Own Private Island for a Week

Island Water Villas near Memel in the Free State

One invaluable gift we’ve been blessed with in South Africa is good friends. Almost immediately upon arriving here, we were “adopted” by other families, invited over to braais, and generally shown the ways of this country.

One such set of friends are Mike and Jacky and their two children. They are veterans of the African bush, owning every conceivable gadget you could possibly need not only to survive in the wild but live quite nicely. They also possess that most important of all things, a wonderful sense of humor. If I ever was stranded on a desert island, I would want to have them along. Going on a trip with Mike and Jacky is always an adventure. About a year ago they organized a weekend getaway at a place called Prynnsberg, a diamond magnate’s house built in the 1880s and currently in the process of being restored by a private family. It came complete with a large staff of cooks and domestics who treated our group of over thirty people like royalty, serving every meal in a different venue, culminating in a cookout-cum-slumberparty under an overhanging rock. Except we never got to the slumberparty phase, because we accidentally set the bush on fire and had to spend the rest of the night and most of the next day fighting a huge wildfire. A corporate team building exercise couldn’t have provided a better bonding experience, though I suspect the owners of the house and surrounding farms didn’t quite see it in such a positive light. Mike and Jacky are also owners of that other invaluable possession you should select your friends by, a power boat. Therefore, when asked if we wanted to come along for a week of waterskiing in the Free State, we enthusiastically said yes. That is how we recently found ourselves on a remote farm, living in a house in the middle of a private lake, surrounded by beautiful scenery, with no one but our two families to play in the water as we pleased (if you don’t count all the cows and sheep keeping us company).

One of my goals in life has always been ... 


I’ve Fallen in Love

Even before we ever got to Franschhoek, I fell in love with the name. It sounded so pretty and I couldn't get enough of saying it over and over again. Which is perhaps why we settled on Franschhoek Manor as our Bed & Breakfast, and it was an excellent choice. Our room was perfect, the host entertaining, his food and wine recommendations excellent, and the weekend magical.


Jamila Lodge

Jamila Lodge has everything you could ask from a luxury lodge for your African safari destination. It’s situated on top of a hill with stunning views all around and a cool breeze wafting up from the valley, the service and food are excellent, and we particularly enjoyed the hot tub right on our own private deck. It's located in Welgevonden Game Reserve only a few hours from Johannesburg.


Whale Watching in Knysna

I had promised you the third installment in my Wilderness series, which was our whale watching tour departing from Knsysna.

As I’ve mentioned before, this involved me going through gigantic waves in a small boat, which I had vowed never to do again after some friends took us through an inlet ... 


The Bloukrans Bungy Jump

I thought hard about the right title for this post. Most appropriately I’d call it “the near-heart-attack incident” but I didn’t want to alarm you. However, that is precisely how it felt. I’m not sure how I got pulled into letting my child fling himself off a bridge – ...