An Interview with Janine Keyser of Koffylaagte Game Lodge
Koffylaagte Game Lodge challenges the norms and traditions, and offers nature-lovers something novel and memorable. Janine Keyser is the Sales and Marketing Manager, and has a passion for this Eastern Cape retreat. She shares some insights into what makes this lodge unique and why the Eastern Cape is its ideal home.
A Interview with Janine Keyser, Sales and Marketing Manager of the Pegasus Hospitality Group …
When was Koffylaagte established? What was the vision?
Koffylaagte was purchased in 2005 as a family farm which was a third of the size it is now and was commercialised in 2007 with a vision to turn the pristine gem into a uniquely South African retreat. Subsequently more farm land was purchased and converted from the sheep farming area that it once was into a wildlife breeding game farm. In the first year the historic farmhouse was renovated to function as 2 x 2 bedroom farmhouse units. Later 3 upmarket lodge rooms were added and then the 5 luxury safari tents.
The Eco bush camp which sleeps up to 8 is our latest addition. All traces of the sheep farm were eradicated and with disciplined grazing policies, once over utilised tracts of land have been restored to what now resembles a magnificent succulent garden with breathtaking Karoo vistas serving as a panoramic backdrop. To retain its tranquillity and stay true to its origins the additional accommodation units were built remote from the main lodge offering guests privacy while preserving the South African heritage of the main homestead.
What sets Koffylaagte apart from other game lodges?
We are anything but a run of the mill, commercial game lodge and there is much that sets us apart.
a) We choose not to have TV’s in the rooms, as it is part of the essence of Koffylaagte to get away from it all. (There is however DSTV in the main lodge and games room.) Everyone who experiences the magic of Koffylaagte remark on the retreat element it embodies. It rejuvenates the soul.
b) We haven’t got strict game drive times so you won’t get a 5am wake-up call for the morning drive but instead, depending on how busy we are, we go out of our way to suit each specific guest’s wishes and are flexible around catering to specific needs. Koffylaagte sets itself apart from other game lodges by offering a most warm, personal and unpretentious authentic Karoo experience that won’t be experienced at any other game lodge.
c) Also the fact that it is deeply embedded in rich history and cultural heritage sets it apart. We still find pennies dating back to 1917, there is a graveyard on the premises next to the farmhouse which dates back to the 1800’s. The photos of the Hurter family that resided there centuries ago are still seen on the walls of the farmhouse.
d) Our true value for money makes it affordable for all – this affordability factor also definitely sets us apart from other game lodges.
e) Being in close proximity to Port Elizabeth, the Addo Elephant National Park and Graaff-Reinet, we also offer day programmes to these well-known touristic destinations. We have a land-cruiser which seats up to 10 excluding the driver so we are able to tailor packages according to budgets and provide transport at a cost for guests that wish to see more of the surrounding regions
Please tell us a bit more about the various accommodation options – tented camps, lodge and farmhouse:
We have 5 beautiful luxury safari tents, most ideal for couples. These are equipped with both baths and showers and have private decks to gaze out at the tranquil Karoo vistas.
Our 3 upmarket lodge rooms are situated inside the main lodge next to the dining room and bar area. These rooms are best suited for sharing guests or couples.
The original farmhouse dating back to the 1800’s has been revamped without losing the touch of a bygone era and consists of 2 units each comprised of a bathroom kitchen lounge and 2 bedrooms. The farmhouse sleeps up to 4 in each unit, so 8 in total.
The Eco bush cottage was our latest edition. Since we don’t have the big 5 we figured we may as well capatalise on the predator friendly environment which makes it ideal for groups to enjoy a true bush experience. The bush camp has 2 bedrooms 2 bathrooms, an open plan kitchen and lounge area with gorgeous deck, outdoor braai and further outdoor loo facilities.
Do you have a honeymoon suite and / or a family room?
The luxury safari tents are our honeymoon suites and the eco bush cottage and historical farmhouse are our family units.
What facilities and amenities do you have?
We have a sauna on site. A gorgeous games room with pool table and DSTV can be found alongside our main lodge where meals, functions and conferences are held. There is also an indoor Boma Braai area for more intimate group meals, functions and conferences.
You have a beautiful conference centre. How many can it accommodate? What facilities do you have? What kinds of events are held here?
We can hold any type of event from a birthday/anniversary, teambuilding, year-end function or wedding. Our conference venues are the Hunters Lodge and the Boma. If only one venue is needed the other can be used as a breakaway venue.
The Hunters Lodge conference configurations as follows; 24 people (boardroom, U Shape or Schoolroom style,) 32 cinema style and a 36 seater dinner setting.
The Boma can accommodate up to 24 delegates.
Please expand a bit on the hunting sphere of the lodge (i.e. what animals are there to hunt? How does this contribute positively to the ecology and natural balance? What are the costs involved?):
Koffylaagte is home to 18 different species of antelope, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, however doesn’t have any large predators therefore the herbivores breed freely and may extend the quantities viable for the size of the land. This is how culling or hunting comes into the picture to make the game farming a sustainable venture, every year according to rainfalls and the status of the vegetation, carefully calculated quotas are determined for each species of game with anything over the quota basically being hunted for biltong, meals etc. Koffylaagte granted its hunting rights to a responsible outfitter; Eastern Cape Hunters Safari Company which handles all hunting related enquiries.
The guided game drives sound like great fun. What animals and vegetation can visitors look forward to seeing?
Koffylaagte is home to a great diversity of fauna and flora. Species found on the reserve include the endangered White Rhino, the Cape Buffalo and a large variety of antelope species such as Kudu, Eland, Impala, Springbuck, Red Hartebeest, Blue Wildebeest, Black Wildebeest, Nyala, Waterbuck, Gemsbuck, Blesbuck. The reserve is also home to a large variety of small mammals such as the Bat eared fox, the Vervet monkey among many others. It is teaming with a large variety of bird species.
What other local activities can guests plan during their time at Koffylaagte?
On site we have;
- Game Drives
- 4×4 self drive trails
- Mountain biking trails
- Hiking trails
- Fishing at Darlington Dam
- Buffalo Breeding
- Guided rhino/giraffe walks on horseback
Day Trips we can arrange in the area;
- Daniel Cheetah Breeding farm – Kirkwood
- Graaff Reinet Valley of Desolation tour
- Addo Elephant Park, elephant back safaris
- Addo River safari (canoeing)
- Addo Sand-boarding safari
- Citrus Farm visit
- Mohair Farm visit
- Spa’s in Addo region
Why do you love the Eastern Cape?
The Eastern Cape has an extremely rich cultural heritage! The origin of all South African idiosyncrasies had its birth place in the Eastern Cape.
Plenty of our countries freedom fighters and leading politicians have come from the Eastern Cape (poets, authors etc.) The world’s most beloved icon is after all from the Kunu in the Eastern Cape!
We have the largest range of activities and an abundance of wildlife!
Having lived in the Eastern Cape my entire life and travelled the length of breadth of the province extensively, it is always great to discover those treasures along the way…. those country back roads that can welcome yet challenge you and the absolute hospitality of the people living there.
Travelling towards Jansenville; the area, best known for the Baviaanskloof and Addo Elephant National Park, is a treasure trove of 4×4 routes, from the Kabouga trail running between the Darlington Dam and the Addo Elephant National Park, to the spiders’ web of trails forming part of this pass, all designed to challenge 4×4, quad and other outdoor enthusiasts.
(Johannesburg/Northern Province & Cape Town/Western Province, no doubt have some of the most documented tourist attractions (Robben Island, Table Mountain etc.) But these provinces have become commercialised into cosmopolitan cities whereas a true South African experience from the heart is experienced in our Province.
We have vast spaces of unspoilt land & relatively lower levels of crime compared to some other provinces as well.
Where would you like to see the lodge in 2 years’ time?
I would like to think that we have successfully established Koffylaagte as an affordable couples & family getaway to the local/national market. However, in 2 years time, I see Koffylaagte being recognised for all that it is and much better established internationally. We have been marketing ourselves as an outdoor adventure destination where one can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, 4×4 trails, rhino walks, horse safaris, quads etc. We have also put together school camp and volunteer programs and have a variety of teambuilding and corporate packages for conferences and get-aways. 2 years from now I see all these initiatives resonating and the full purpose of Koffylaagte being realised.
What is the most satisfying part of being involved with a lodge like Koffylaagte?
Watching it grow! Having the pleasure of being involved in this growth and the privilege of staying there from time to time!
Contact Koffylaagte Game Lodge:
To make a booking to experience Koffylaagte visit Koffylaagte Game Lodge.
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