Travel Review: Discover the magic of Thali Thali Game Lodge, Langebaan

Located outside the tranquil West Coast town of Langebaan – and happily found along the West Coast Way foodie and scenic route – lies the vast and unquestionably magical, 1460-hectare fynbos and game farm: Thali Thali Game Lodge.

Here, from the moment the gate shuts behind you, closing out the hum of the R27 road, you discover a sense of arriving. It’s like being in the wildest heart of Africa, without even venturing beyond the Western Cape.

thali thali game drive

Our introduction to Thali Thali soon became something powerful… We eased up the driveway past a field of springbok, who pranced off in a way that only they can.

Whether day visitor or overnight guest, at Thali Thali Game Lodge, one thing is certain: you’ll receive a warm welcome from owners, Thys and Amalia van Niekerk and their close-knit, amazing team of staff. I have been to many places now, both in my leisure time and for work purposes, and few have impacted upon me as quickly as Thali Thali did.

thali thali game lodge marquee

Some might accredit this to my first official game drive. Or to my chance of a romantic, undisturbed getaway with my favourite person in the Jewel of the West Coast, Langebaan…

And hell, I’d be lying if I said that these things didn’t factor in big time… but, whatever the reason, Thali Thali Game Lodge was just one of those places that instantly felt special.
 
After signing in and planning our weekend itinerary with reception, we had our complimentary welcome drinks out on deck. It’s anexpansive, beautiful wooden area, well-loved as a prime sundowner location. This is perfectly complemented by Thali Thali’s extensive cocktail options.

 

As we sat there, overlooking a small pond (a watering hole in my mind), I declared with barely repressed excitement, “Okay, so I think this is officially my new favourite place!”
 
You might not feel it as quickly as we did… but I think everyone who visits Thali Thali leaves it a quietly changed person. Somehow having gotten back in touch with their truest selves – and with nature.
 
And that’s the beauty of Thali Thali Game Lodge… It doesn’t need to bombard you with pomp and ceremony. Instead, it quietly weaves its way into your heart by allowing its inspirational wildlife and rustic, vast beauty to speak for it… and they make a strong case on its behalf!

 

Still, its man-made facilities are equally impressive. With a restaurant, safari bar (complete with lapa), splash pool, safari-themed children’s play area and marquee tent for functions and weddings. Not to mention the trio of amazing accommodation options to choose from. These include: B&B luxury tented camps, quaint self-catering chalets and the old farmhouse, Ouma se Huis.

Thus the deservedly three-star-rated Thali Thali Game Lodge offers everything visitors desire.

Day 1: Sunset nature walk and indoor braai

We wanted to experience Thali Thali in all its fullness during our two-night stay, so we tried each of its offered activities. Like walking safaris, a game drive and archery (3D archery is also offered). We even dined at its part rustic bar, part Afro-elegant restaurant facility.

coloured arrow markers
Coloured arrows mark out each specific route.

On the first night, after unpacking and getting supplies, we decided began with a nature walk. We opted for the shortest route: the 3.5km- Springbok walk.

For your own safety, whenever you go on a nature walk, you must report this to receptionAlso, walks are strictly at your own risk as animals roam freely. It’s best to keep a safe distance… oh, and please don’t change routes along the way!

Please note: Nature walks are only free to Thali Thali overnight guests. Day visitors will need to pay R50 per route.

The routes are not necessarily difficult but they are pretty tiring, with quite heavy going underfoot. Wear comfortable shoes and, if it’s hot out, take water, sunscreen and a hat to tide you over.

European fallow deer

 

Before joining our Jock of the Bushveld companion, a brave-hearted Jack Russell called Trigger, we mingled among the European fallow deer. They tamely graze around the main farm area, unperturbed by man or dog.
 
We were also blessed with what owners, Thys and Amalia later assured us was a rare experience… Seeing the giraffe family close to the main farm area/camp.
Amalia said we must be lucky and the following morning Thys explained to us that there’s a 1 in 40 chance of seeing them that close to the shed.

thali thali game lodge giraffe bull

I can’t express the excitement I felt as we carefully edged our way behind the barn. The dark giraffe bull watched with cautious interest, as his family lingered nearby. With little more than overlong shrubbery between us, it was certainly a chance encounter. One that will stay with me for a very long time indeed.

Cape fynbos

Accompanied by Trigger, we enjoyed a relaxing sunset walk through lavender-coloured fynbos bushes. The path took us along a sandy path that led us past electricity pylons and gigantic mole hills.

From there, we entered the plain below the outbuildings. This is where the springbok generally choose to roam. It was then that we saw not only the springbok, but two white-faced bontebok. We also noticed another set of buck, indiscernible in the fading light.

We recounted our discoveries to one of Thali Thali’s two go-to staff members, Vlam. And quietly explored the main farm area, absorbing in the beauty of the tented camps. These enviably lie nestled in the fynbos, with great views across the peaceful farm.

thali thali windmill

 

All Thali Thali’s accommodation are within easy walking distance of the reception and restaurant. Including our cosy, yet spacious self-catering chalet.
 
The delightful, elegantly decorated chalet was well-equipped with all required amenities we could need. (I will elaborate on the chalet in my accommodation review… to follow soon.)
Thali Thali Game Lodge tented camp
Tented camps at Thali Thali.
thali-thali-accommodation
Our self-catering chalet.

For supper, we decided to rustle up tasty beef burgers, cooked in our indoor braai. We had also made a dinner reservation at Thali Thali restaurant for the following night.
indoor braai thali thali

We enjoyed an incredibly relaxing, entirely peaceful night’s rest. This ensured we were well rested for our back-to-back archery and game drive the following day.

Day 2: Fun archery, an enthralling game drive and a generous dinner at Thali Thali restaurant

Our day started somewhat lazily before we sped things up to do the 6.5km Eland nature walk. We set off briskly, keeping a stricter pace than the previous evening. We snaked our way past the fallow deer, a prowling emu and then out into open fynbos and grass terrain. Only the occasional clump of trees and bone-coloured sand dunes disturbed this scenery.

The walk was much steeper than the Springbok route. It takes you higher up the farm. Here, it affords you amazing views of the farm and surrounding West Coast landscape. Both seem somehow endless.

We sighted our giraffe friends high in the fynbos and an unfazed steenbok… but we saw little else to excite us beyond the usual beauty of Cape farmlands.

Then, after a trip to town, it was time for the real action to begin. First, we enjoyed our introductory lesson to archery, practicing with Recurve (or Long) bows and arrows. This was under Amalia’s, and then Thys’s careful joint guidance. Having both competed at a national level, they’re both well-equipped to guide you in the ways of archery.

I was sadly a pretty poor student (no Katniss Everdeen) but it was great fun. Particularly when Amalia invited us to engage in a mini one-on-one competition. I came second by a country mile (and several overshot arrows…)… but it was incredibly enjoyable and I’d definitely try it again in the future – if only to see my man in action once more.

After that, we quickly took in Thys’s archery shop. It does repairs and sales and lends out the necessary equipment, if you can’t bring your own. Since we finished with time to spare before our afternoon game drive, Amalia allowed my man to practise briefly with the Compound bow… It was the clear favourite in the end.

thali thali archery

Game drives take place at 10:00 am or 15:30 pm daily. Depending on the size of your group, you will either set off in a safari-style bakkie, Landrover or tractor-trailer. Our group totalled 13 people, so we set off in two vehicles. The guides divided us up according to our language of preference: English or Afrikaans.

thali thali game drive vehicle

We geared up the farm, past the fallow deer. Originally they the Portuguese settlers brought them over, way back when. We found the Burchell’s zebra on the hill and exposed the impressively horned kudu. We even spotted a rust-coloured little steenbok in the fynbos bushes.

We rumbled along higher up the farm, searching for shyer game, such as our giraffe friends. We got so close and had a good view of them munching hungrily on the branches. We were also fortunate enough to see the youngest one awkwardly settle down for a rest. Nearby, a lone eland mingled in the dry grass and veld bush.

giraffe thali thali

After that, we also saw the white-and-black-faced Oryxes… Their horns can grow up to 30 inches in length.

Ostriches fled before us, their flouncy white wings bouncing behind them. And the sun was slowly setting, casting the farm’s upper reaches in a magical silvery light.

Finally, we even found the lone Dromedary camel. Oom Ettienne told us he’s mighty old now, yet still wanders all about the farm. He leaves behind little more than his large prints in the sand.

In the plain below the outbuildings (where we had walked on the first night), we saw more emus and enjoyed watching the wildebeest engage in a running game with the nimble-footed springbok.

Our group disembarked at ‘camp’ close to sun down and spent a few moments appreciatively thanking and talking to our good guides. Both Oom Ettie (Afrikaans group) and Frances (English group) kept us well-informed with insightful little titbits about each of the different species. I think we all found this insight to be very useful and interesting.

(Note: Most of our game drive footage I recorded on my video camera, hence the lack of photos of the wild animals we saw.)

At 19:00 pm, after some brief time to ourselves in our chalet, we wandered over to the restaurant (which has free, auto-connect WiFi) and seated ourselves down amidst paraffin lamps, fynbos flower vases and beautiful African-esque décor.

The restaurant area not only offers deck seating but also several big tables inside, which is where we sat to combat the cold. A small fire close at hand glowed orange, as Jukebox tunes played along as background music to our easy, happy conversations.

I tried the house cocktail, Thali Thali Safari (R40) before our meals: Chicken Cordon Bleu (well-priced at R119.95), which was served with mash, bountiful, fresh salad and a sauce of your choice; I opted for mushroom).

While The Hunter’s Choice (R139.95; it barely fitted on the ultra-large plate) offered the most beautiful kudu meat (sourced off the farm), with boerwors, onion rings, garnishing and delicious looking, chunky potato wedges for my man, who also went with the mushroom dipping sauce.

We both thoroughly enjoyed our meals and lingered on contentedly until the restaurant closed around 21:00 pm. Again, it was a blissfully peaceful night’s sleep that awaited us, leaving me feeling better rested than I’ve been in months.

Time to say good-bye to Thali Thali Game Lodge… for now

The following morning we packed and tidied up in time for the standard 10:00 am check-out time (check-in is from 2pm onwards; reception closes at 21:00 pm) before taking our final cup of coffee out on the delightful deck. This was where our Thali Thali experience began, so it was fitting it should end here. We chatted contentedly in the sunshine, watching the resident duck trio (two whites and one Mallard) quack about with the partridge.

We regretfully bid farewell to Amalia, David and Vlam, all of whom we’d enjoyed some lovely conversations with during our stay, and then made our way down the drive… our parting memory is of the fallow deer grazing less than two metres away from the dirt road.

Our talk was of returning in the future to try more archery, see more game and experience the tented camp for ourselves in warmer weather; that wistful sense of longing and desire to remain fixed are sensations I feel all of Thali Thali’s visitors must surely encounter when it comes time to go.

You will fleetingly experience it when in the springbok gently, yet speedily leap and bound across to the other side of a vast field, freshly green from winter rain.

Or, perhaps more simply, in the way you sleep soundly through the night, safe in nature’s civilised, yet unaltered embrace, on your last night…

thali thali giraffe

You may even, with a jolt of childlike wonder, discover it, as a giraffe head unexpectedly pops up from behind an old farm shed as you leave reception.

However it comes to find you… you will leave Thali Thali with a host of treasured, new experiences and fond memories, as you undoubtedly mental plot that return visit…

How Thali Thali Game Lodge rated

As such, I am going to do something I’ve never done before on my blog and award Thali Thali my first-ever 10/10 rating because there’s not a single thing that I can fault. What’s more, the people here truly are outstanding to deal with! Every element of this game farm fell together perfectly for us, easily cementing this highest possible rating.

Thank you so very much to amazing owners, Amalia and Thys, their two gorgeous, polite girls, and their excellent team of staff – which includes David, Vlam, Oom Ettie and Frances – for making our first experience and two-night stay at Thali Thali positively wonderful!

For more information on Thali Thali Game Lodge, you can visit their website, call them on: (082) 372 8637 or email them at info@thalithali.co.za and/or booking@thalithali.co.za.

You will discover them for yourself off the R27, West Coast (the gravel road is directly across from the West Coast Engen One-Stop) – but you can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Thali Thali activity rates (2017):

  • Game drives:
    R250 (per adult); R150 (per child, ages 5-12) and free to children under five.
  • Walking safaris:
    Free but visitors must notify reception of their departure time and desired walking route.
  • Archery lessons:
    Strictly by appointment/booking. R150 per lesson. R150 per bow hire. R150 for 3D archery range.
    For more info on archery lessons and the shop, contact Thys on: (083) 275 2825.
  • Marquee tent hire for weddings and other functions:
    Quote available on request. For more info, contact Amalia on info@thalithali.co.za or (082) 372 8637.

Thali Thali accommodation rates (valid till end August 2017):

  • Self-catering chalets:
    R600 (per person sharing); R900 (single occupation)
  • B&B luxury tents:
    R660 (per person sharing); R990 (single occupation)
  • The Old Farmhouse (minimum of six adults):
    R520 (self-catering, per person sharing); R575 (per person sharing, bed and breakfast)
  • Note: Children ages 5-12 years pay 50% of rate when sharing with parents, while children under five stay for free. Breakfast is excluded unless otherwise stated in pricing/package.

thali thali self-catering accommodation

Thali Thali accommodation rates (valid from 1 September to end August 2018):

  • Self-catering chalets:
    R675 (per person sharing); R1015 (single occupation)
  • B&B luxury tents:
    R750 (per person sharing); R1125 (single occupation)
  • The Old Farmhouse (minimum of six adults):
    R600 (self-catering, per person sharing); R660 (per person sharing, bed and breakfast)
  • Note: Children ages 5-12 years pay 50% of rate when sharing with parents, while children under five stay for free. Breakfast is excluded unless otherwise stated in pricing/package.

Thali Thali Ouma se Huis

 

 

 

 

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