As canvas flaps and guide ropes crack there’s something special about sleeping in a tent. Especially when snuggled in bed with an electric blanket and other home comforts. And it’s even better when you have a curious camel called Freddie at your door.
Experience Wild Nature At Thali Thali only a two-hour drive from Cape Town along the West Coast highway, inland from Langebaan. Pass through the entrance to enter another world as the road leads to a tall gum tree sheltering the reception and restaurant.
Thali Thali received an award in the 3-star game lodge at the prestigious Lilizela Tourism awards category. “We only received the news on Monday (November 19) and were totally surprised. We could not attend the function but the Lilizela Award brings great joy to our team and we will display it with pride. We would like to thank our fantastic team without whom we are mere mortals – they have superpowers to turn any stay into an unforgotten experience. We would also like to thank our loyal supporters, suppliers and the whole West Coast Community for making us the strong brand we are,” says owner Amalia Van Niekerk. Read more about it here.
Warmly welcomed we were offered lunch on the deck. Listening to the sounds of blue cranes rattling from a plain dotted with springbok and zebras and their new-born foals and calves. We also saw a chameleon in the restaurant.
Thali Thali Is Perfect For Families And Celebrations
Amalia and Thys van Niekerk bought the farm a few years ago and started populating it with various antelope and other animals. They also renovated the original farmhouse to become a symphony of wood and comfort. Apart from the luxury tents, there are cottages, a conference centre, restaurant, bar, reception, children’s play area and a splash pool.
Thys is a Springbok archer and offers archery lessons. He bought his first bow in 1998 but forgot it until 2008 when he joined a few clubs. Amalia was bitten by the bug and now they travel the country shooting in competitions and participating in overseas tournaments. Thys makes it look easy. It isn’t, believe me, but it’s very moreish. “You have to shoot 500 arrows a day with a standard bow, 300 with the complicated sighted one,” explains Thys.
Next morning sipping coffee on the tent deck we watched a woodpecker tapping a tent pole. Breakfast was served on the restaurant deck. The food is hearty and caters to all dietary requirements.
Climb Aboard For A Safari Game Drive
We then climbed onboard a safari vehicle for a game drive around the 1500 hectare reserve. Guide Jacques Van Niekerk (no relation to the owners) imparted fascinating facts and stories about the animals we saw – kudu, blue wildebeest, oryx, sable, a shy duiker and eland. But no buffalo although Jacques says it’s giraffes that people want to see.
Meet The Thali Thali Giraffe Family
Thali Thali has four females and one male – 12-year-old called Brutus (they can live to be 25).
Explore The New West Coast Fossil Park Located 25 Minutes From Thali Thali
In the afternoon we drove down the road to the West Coast Fossil Park to see their giraffes. I last visited this national heritage site in 2012. What a transformation! Greeted by volunteers Ronel and Stefan Maré we enjoyed a tour of what was previously a phosphate mine quarry.
The new visitor centre was funded by the National Lottery and was officially opened in October 2018. There’s a reception, gift shop and restaurant. There is also a garden created to give an idea of what the West Coast was like millions of years ago. Historically being a tropical forest with ferns, palms and cycads where elephants, hyenas, sabre-toothed cats and Africa’s only bear roamed. A time when the Berg River mouth was further south.
The museum protrudes from the building, a magnificent creation with a life-size model of a Sivathere – short-necked long-horned giraffe – created from alien wood and shipwreck driftwood. In the basement are artworks made from recycled materials.
Below the magnificent building, in the quarry, are tents that protect the original dig site where fossils have been uncovered that were buried five million years ago. Bones found here tell the story of climate change from the wet area it was millions of years ago to the dry area it is today.
Returning to Thali Thali we shared a bottle of Darling bubbly while enjoying a magnificent sunset and debating the merits of Thali Thali’s re-wilding process. What do emu, sable antelope, camels and giraffe have in common? Some are not indigenous to the country and others have never been found in the Western Cape, Thali Thali has them. Thys has a detailed enviro study of the number of animals that are sustainable with plant growth. For many South Africans, this can be their first safari experience and it’s a great way to see animals that are not in cages.
Whether you pop in for a meal or spend a few nights there, Thali Thali is not to be missed.
Find Thali Thali Game Lodge in Langebaan on the West Coast Way Foodie Route and Tractor Route
Distance from Cape Town: 117km
Open 7 days a week | Free entry
R300/person for 90 min Game Drive (Booking essential in high season) R150 pp for children (5-12 years); Free Under 5 years
R150/person for Archery Lesson (Booking essential in high season)
Contact: (c) +27 (0)82 372 8637 / +27 (0)83 275 2825 | [email protected] | www.thalithali.co.za
West Coast Fossil Park: 022 766 1606; www.fossilpark.org.za; 32*57’19.4” S / 18*06’49.9” E.
Join us on the West Coast Way and book your next trip of adventure with [email protected] or contact us on 0861 321 777
Karen Watkins started out as a travel writer and photographer supplying articles for numerous newspapers and magazines including Indiwe, Country Life, Go, Good Taste and others. Joined Independent Newspapers Limited in 2007 to work one year with Special Projects writing marketing copy before joining the Constantiaberg Bulletin as a multi-media journalist writing news and taking pictures until May 2019. And now she is writing for West Coast Way