Fahad Private Game Farm
Last week we spent 3 days in the Fahad Private Game Farm on the South Africa/Botswana border north of Lephalale (Ellisras). We had no idea what to expect from our trip as we could find very little information about the place apart from what can be found on their website.
The reservation procedure was a little sloppy as on our day of arrival we still did not have a correct booking confirmation. We received one fairly quickly, however, it had the wrong dates on it. We did phone and confirm and they said we were in fact booked in on the correct dates. It was not the easiest to get hold of them via the phone, however, they did return calls fairly promptly.
Fahad boasts exclusivity in that when you book in to one of their lodges, you are the only guests there. Our lodge, Twin Rivers, could sleep 10 people and at only ZAR420.00 per person per night (self-catering), we couldn’t understand how much money could be made on their part.
We called before to ask about arriving early, we hadn’t seen anything about check-in/out times and wanted to get there between 08:00 and 09:00 on Thursday morning. They had no problem with this at all so early Thursday morning we left for our three and a half hour drive. Once we reached Lephalale we had cellphone signal for the first time in a while and Jenece saw Julius, our contact person at Fahad, had tried to call. She called back and after speaking to him had new directions for us to get there, and he was just asking what our ETA was so he could meet us at the gate.
We followed his directions which included roughly 20km of well-maintained dirt road to arrive at a large gate in what I’d call the middle of nowhere to find him waiting for us. After brief and very warm introductions Julius let us in and escorted us to the Twin Rivers Lodge. The drive was short but we got to see the dam on the Mogolo River which turned out to be 300 meters from our Lodge. Still with no idea what to expect, we were a little nervous.
Arriving at the lodge saw our spirits lifted high. Very well maintained grounds and larger than we expected, with beautiful bush decor, we were now very happy to be there. We parked under the wattle carport reserved for guests and Julius showed us around the camp. Dining area and lounge on an elevated wooden deck with superb furniture. Soft leather couches, side tables, TV with full DSTV bouquet, large dark wood dining table and probably the biggest fireplace I have ever seen.
Outside the dining area was a small swimming pool which we were very happy to see as, that early in the morning, the temperature was already climbing steeply. On the grass were two of the most comfortable garden chairs…in the world! The arm rests would swing out so you can rest your feet, lying back and reading in the shade of an Acacia and overlooking the pool.
From there he took us to Chalet 1 which they had prepared for us due to the accessibility of all the amenities. It was a twin sleeper with the two single beds pushed together for us as a couple. The aircon was pumping cold air into the room to keep it well below the thirty plus degree temperature outside. Bushveld décor scattered around the room was very pleasing to the eye and not over the top. The room was spacious and had everything we’d need, a dressing table with mirror, side chair, end tables with lamps and drawers, wardrobe and jacket stand. The en-suite bathroom had a shower, toilet and wash basin and all with good water pressure and again, bush-veld trinkets scattered around nicely.
From there we were led to the communal bar, kitchen and braai area. Not only did the area look stunning but to say it was fully equipped was a gross understatement. The kitchen had utensils I never knew existed, never mind how to use. Six plate gas stove with oven, microwave, kettle, toaster, two bar fridges and many cupboards all packed with useful things. This was open to the outdoors, overlooking the pool and braai area however with a roof that would not allow the rain to get anywhere near us. Behind a closed door was a large freezer, fridge, ice maker, washup area, walk-in fridge and pantry (which was fully stocked with yet more cooking utensils including potjie pots).
We signed the registration form and we were asked please not to drive around the park, we were welcome to walk wherever we wanted but to please take the camp two-way radio with us when we did. We arranged for a game drive that evening and Julius was on his way.
We went for a walk along one of the park roads which took us adjacent to the Limpopo River and headed back for a much needed swim. When we came out of the chalet, two towels each had been put on the deck chairs overlooking the pool for us to use. A very nice and unexpected touch. We spent the rest of the afternoon lounging around the pool (both in and out of the water) until it was time for our game drive.
Julius arrived around 17:00, gave us the safety briefing and we were off. It was a pleasant drive, around two hours long, and we barely covered a fraction of the park. We stopped off at the Tree House, somewhere they are refurbishing and hope to open for reservations again. It is located in a nearly 1,000 year old Leadwood Tree and has three areas. On the ground is the kitchen and firepit, next level is the bathroom and on top, a deck with a bedroom. The deck overlooks the Limpopo River and into Botswana while the bedroom has floor to ceiling windows all around. The vegetation is quite thick at this time of year but the view was still amazing and I can imagine it is even better in winter. There were no furnishings when we went due to the refurbishment.
Returning from our drive, we discovered the grounds keeper had not only stacked more wood than we’ll ever use but also lit a fire for us in the pit. The evening was very pleasant, we had a braai next to the firepit, worked out how to use all the lights around the area so as to see any bugs sneaking up on us and even got to see a Lesser-Spotted Genet walking along the edge of the camp.
The following day was an active one for us, early game drive, 2 hours on quad bikes, another walk and we were supposed to do a cruise down the Limpopo but sadly that was rained off. We did it the next morning instead.
On that morning drive we had an inkling as to just how big Fahad really is. We drove for over an hour to get onto the one hill in the whole area and the view was breathtaking. We could see for miles and miles in all directions. We stopped for a break, chat and photos and then took a different route back to camp where we spotted a large chameleon and more Gemsbok (Oryx) than I’ve ever seen in one place.
Fahad has a Sable Antelope breeding project but unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to enter any of the camps.
The two hours on the quads were amazing. 330cc bikes and many kilometres of game roads to travel. We were dropped off at reception, given the bikes and a suggested route to take along the Limpopo to get back to our camp where we could leave the quads for pick-up. Unfortunately this didn’t go according to plan as the suggested route was laden with puddles and mud. The quad I was given was a 4×4 and made short work of most things, however Jenece’s 4×2, after getting stuck and taking about 20 minutes to get out (in the pouring rain) ensured we took another route.
The following morning, Julius was there to meet us for the cruise and off we went. The cruise only took an hour but what a pleasant trip. We saw so many birds but unfortunately none of the resident crocs or hippos. We did have a rare sighting of the Red-Headed Weaver which was a treat.
Back at camp we packed and waited for Julius to arrive and escort us out. We paid for our extra activities (which are not included in the accommodation price) and were on our way to Marakele for a night of camping before heading home.
In total we had three game drives, 2 hours on the quad bikes and a river cruise and that totalled ZAR800.00 for the both of us. An amount hardly worth mentioning.
I could write for hours on our trip to Fahad, in this article I have barely scratched the surface. It was an incredible experience for both of us and we cant wait to get back there. Game spotting was a little scarce, however this is again due to the time of year and all the standing water spreading the game out. Having said that, we did see quite a bit, including rare sightings (for us anyway). The Genet, Gemsbok, Red-Headed Weaver on our cruise, chameleon, Monitor Lizard and others I cant quite think of off the top of my head. Fahad does have resident Cheetah and Brown Hyena but we weren’t lucky enough to see them.
The staff were all very friendly and knowledgeable and would accommodate us, whatever we wanted. The farm is beautiful and remote (a good thing in my books) and while we were there, the only other vehicle we saw was the bakkie dropping off our firewood and the guests in another lodge when we took a wrong turn on the quads. The housekeeping and grounds staff were always doing things in the background so you hardly knew they were there. An example being turning my back after breakfast one morning to discover they’d cleaned my skottle for me, and washed my car mere minutes before we departed.
To the staff of Fahad, and especially to Julius, I would like to say thank you for an amazing and memorable experience. We will certainly be back and cant wait until then. Thank you for your attention to customer relations and satisfaction, we really appreciate it.