Explorer CEO, Peter-John, shares his latest Story from Africa – his incredible stay at Gorah Elephant Camp in South Africa’s malaria-free Eastern Cape

The N2 highway from Port Elizabeth meanders north toward Grahamstown. The N2 crosses the N10 where you take a ‘short left’ and follow the signs along a gravel road to the gates of Gorah Elephant Camp.  

My first visit to Gorah was in 2001. I was scouting for accommodation in the area, and found, what I feel is as close as ‘heaven” on earth. I recall my first visit, during the pouring rain in September. As the roads were way too muddy, the lodge had sent a safari vehicle to come and fetch us from the main gate. With a wind from the side, and with our bodies covered with ponchos, the fresh Eastern Cape winter wind still found its way, sending cooling trickles of water down our faces.

But then, on the edge of the cloudy escarpment, the Gorah Farmhouse is revealed, and staff with evident smiles welcomed us with an immediate sense of sincerity, which alone sets the tone for Gorah. I recall how the hostess rinsed some face cloths in some hot lavender-scented water, as we walked into the lodge reception; there was just a sense of comfort holding onto the warm cloth, and the fragrance lingered. 

This was my first impression of Gorah, a place of comfort. However, it was only when we were seated on the terrace of the farmhouse that the true magic revealed itself… the elephants. Mystically these giants broke through the soft cloud on the open plain, making their way to the waterhole with great visibility from the lodge. While we enjoyed a hearty lunch service, the real live theatre was the elephants so close, and I’ve never forgotten it. 

Gorah Elephant Camp reminds me very much of a scene in the movie, Out of Africa, where Dennis Finch Hatton sits at a campfire with Karen Blixen sharing a story, the fire crackling in the background, and splinters of burning wood flaming into the starry sky. It reads like a fairy tale, but that is Gorah. The ivory tents are welcoming and spacious, with truly ‘green’ interiors. Gas-heated water and solar-powered light does no harm to the yesteryear furnishes.  

The king-sized bed, with elegant bed linen, just completes this picture of refined tent accommodation. It was in tent 11 I recall waking up one morning, and heroically laughed off my wife commenting that there was an elephant at our door – it is amazing how the hero inside me was struck silent, as there he was: a giant bull elephant just grazing in freedom and unaware, or shall I say, not too concerned about our presence.  

Yes, I love Gorah. I enjoy how lunch is served on the terrace with an always panoramic view of the plains, and the waterhole with the elephants. At night, the entire farmhouse is lit up with candles. Before dinner, we spent time sitting in one of the lounges enjoying a pre-drink before dinner service in the elegant dining room with beautiful crockery and silver cutlery. Now, I know we have not left the lodge yet to go on safari, but that is exactly the charm of Gorah, as the constant nearness of wildlife to camp is special.   

Gorah is an Elephant Camp, and out on the drive we saw various antelopes, lion, buffalo, and rhinoceros, but not the elusive leopard. I genuinely enjoyed the company of the ranger, Rhyno. He loved sharing the stories and learning of the animals, but also took the time to stop at some of the trees that leverage the most interesting stories, a lifecycle among the birds, animals, and trees.  

On our last morning at Gorah, we headed to an open clearing. Some repurposed game vehicle chairs were placed in a half-moon shape, and we think we have simply set the ‘table’ for a perfect sunrise. However, as the first habituated meerkat arrived to greet us, we were immediately overcome with excitement to watch a little family playing, bonding, and enjoying time together out in the open.  

It is all this and so much more that motivates me to share this place of peace, where nature runs in harmony, and where we can truly stand still for a while among the gentle giants of Gorah Elephant Camp. Nature keeps its own pace; we are truly only a moment in time, and I am so grateful to have experienced time at Gorah. 

If this trip to Gorah Elephant Camp has inspired you to make your own travel plans, contact us now. We are available on email, WhatsApp, and via a call. Chat to one of our travel planners today. 

If you’re not sure where to start planning your safari, our Explorer Travel Planners are ready to inspire you with great ideas! Get in touch today and let’s make your African travel dreams a reality. 

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