Author Archives: Charlen Gertze

#09: Farmers Building Bridges Between SA and Australia


When farmers from Queensland, Australia recently checked in at #RiverLodgeVredendal we knew it was the perfect opportunity to introduce them to our famed Namaqua West Coast hospitality. Tom Beesley and his 5 friends – all farmers from Toowoomba, Brisbane, touring South Africa – decided to spend 2 days in Vredendal hoping for an opportunity to visit a local farm.

At River Lodge we try to put the heart into hospitality so we knew we had to call in some serious help – in the person of local legend Jan Ponk van Zyl, owner of Draaihoek Wildkamp. On very short notice he organised a local “tour” that the Aussies won’t forget easily. They started the day at Andries Botha’s farm, watching harvesting of grapes, on to Truter Lutz,  at Up to Date where they watched tomatoes being packed for the market and then on to lunch at Fryer’s Cove, for some serious wine-tasting. They ended the day with a hugely successful braai-a-la-West Coast at Draaihoek Wildkamp, while watching the game coming to drink water
According to Van Zyl they discussed the challenges of farming in general, but also the enormous differences between farming in SA and in Australia. Although farming generally comes with huge challenges, the farmers compared the problems they faced in Australia to farming in South Africa.
“We’ve experienced a feeling of solidarity which resulted in invitations to visit them and maybe, have our children work on their farms for a season for a different experience.”
Looking at the tired, bleary-eyed but satisfied faces of Tom, St, John Kent, Matt Harris, Jamie Grant, Brett Wilson and Matthew at the breakfast table, I knew the Aussies wouldn’t easily forget the people from Vredendal.






#8: Bon Voyage for 2019

Yesterday one of our regular guests declared that his year only starts on the 1st of February – because January is a trial month to see if he can handle the New Year.

I can empathize with him. My 2018 ended on the 12th of January and my New Year started a week later on Monday the 21st of January and my internal clock is still not in tune with the rest of the people.

But there’s one thing that I know for sure – 2019 is going to be an eventful, wonderfully-challenging year during which time everybody will have to dig deep in their own resources to find the strength and courage to bring their A-game.

So I think it is appropriate to wish all our valued guests – the regular Johns and the passer-by Janes – as well as the people who are just visiting our website … Bon Voyage! May your journey in 2019 be a joyous and fulfilling experience.

When life takes you on new and scary roads – don’t rush to your destination. Instead stop, inhale and experience everything along this road.

Whether you have an overseas trip booked or just a weekend on the family farm – BE in the moment. Enjoy every second of every moment.

Andre P Brink, one of our most beloved Afrikaans writers said that people who fail to discover something new in their own back-yard every day will waste their money on a trip to an exotic destination.

At the end of December a group of 24 – friends and their families – checked into River Lodge. They were en-route to a farm in the Karoo. Apparently, it was a regular thing for them to do.  It was a heart-warming experience for us listening to the laughter and fun around the fire in the lapa and again the next morning, during breakfast and we were blessed by their stay.

We are looking forward to welcoming you at River Lodge. There is an abundance of interesting places to visit and thing to experience.



#7: All about having fun…

We, Team River Lodge is all about caring for our guests. We genuinely want them to relax and, where possible, have some fun while staying with us. After all, we don’t stop having fun, because we’re growing old – we’re actually growing old when we deliberately stop having fun!

A group of visionaries recently stayed a couple of days, whilst doing what visionaries do – explore, investigate, meet and greet and plan. They ended their stay with a braai in our awesome lapa, but not before young and old dived into the swimming pool!

I was busy in the office when the sound of laughter and shouts called me out on the stoep where an absolute heart-warming picture greeted me. The very serious, focused men of earlier were transformed into little boys – racing across, daring each other to do silly tricks in the water, having a find-the-pebble competition.

Later that evening I looked at them sitting around the fire-pit – relaxed, talking and enjoying their food and I had a warm fuzzy feeling – because THIS is what it’s all about for us.

And that prompted us to announce a special discounted price for couples or families. Every couple booking a room for a weekend receives a10% discount, BUT…if they bring another couple BOTH couples get 15% off! The whole reasoning behind this unusual offer is not just to fill up the guesthouse but to convince people to check in with the sole purpose of relaxing without leaving the grounds; for friends to lounge beside the pool during the day and to continue the “kuier” around the fire-pit.

Our dream is to have couples dropping the kids with grandma (she’ll be thrilled!), check in here and forget about workplace pressures and bond payments for 48 hours. We’ll throw in a breakfast-by-the-pool and even look the other way if you want to have a (quiet) midnight swim…

#6: Showcasing some changes…


Our beloved establishment turns 21 this year – a glorious achievement for the owners and everybody involved in the day to day running of the guesthouse. It is interesting to notice that, as in life everything here is also happening in 7-year cycles and about 5 months ago, the new manageress Yolanda Engelbrecht and her team took over – ready to take River Lodge Vredendal to a whole new level.

With a new start, comes fresh enthusiasm and an abundance of new ideas and we are super excited about the stunning plans in the pipeline for renovations of the chalets and changes to the existing buildings. The changes started with moving the dining room back to the main house and giving it a complete make-over in modern, trendy colours. The new-look dining room was an instant hit with our large number of regular and also with first-time guests. We find that guests enjoy standing on the dining room stoep before breakfast, with a cup of our delicious coffee, talking to fellow guests and just enjoying the view and the fresh morning breeze.

Looking back over these few months it is gratifying to see how the garden reacted to the extra love and care. A new borehole surprised us with very strong water, which immediately brought relief to the drought-stricken garden. In a bold move, all the roses were replanted and to our immense relief, all the bushes are now covered with blooms.

But there is one thing that gets better with time and which no amount of renovations can improve upon and that is the unique atmosphere we are blessed with here at River Lodge – as one guest put it: “I loved the serene disposition.”

The huge garden with the myriad of bird species invites a person to sit back, kick off their shoes and to forget about the cares of everyday life.

But don’t take my word for it – I might be biased because I’m experiencing this every single day. Pick up the phone and book your room and come and experience this tranquillity for yourself.

I promise you won’t be disappointed!

#5: You’re invited to a beach party of note

If you can manage to ignore the snow that fell on Table Mountain this week (19th September, for crying out loud!) and the subsequent cold weather, I want you to take a walk on the beach with me. The place is Strandfontein, a delightful little coastal town just a short drive from Vredendal.

The houses are curved like a protective crescent around the beachfront and in a few weeks time, this sleepy little place is going to be abuzz with people, music, laughter and the smell of delicious food.

It’s time for the annual Madeliefie Makietie Festival again. On 26 and 27 October 2018 Strandfontein will be the place to be.  Cindy Schade and her capable team have been working non-stop for the past few months to put together a program to blow the minds of each and every visitor.

Although Vredendal is some 50 km from all the action, the organizers have arranged for a shuttle service, going to and from the venue throughout the day. So now nobody has any excuse to not stay with River Lodge Vredendal, while having the best beach party ever…

Speaking of a party – the line-up of entertainers will be enough to get all excited about. With artists like Jo Black, Karlien van Jaarsveld, Snotkop. Majozi, Willem Botha, Lee Scott. Leah SA and golden-oldies Country Legends, Lance James, Barbara Ray, Clive Bruce, and Tommy Dell there will be something for everybody’s taste – 25 of the country’s top artists will provide you with non-stop entertainment. And don’t forget the tents with refreshments, stalls on the beach and in town selling food and souvenirs…

River Lodge Vredendal is proud to be one of the sponsors for this important event. We stand for family, for “putting the heart back into hospitality”. What better place or opportunity for a family to relax together and have some much-needed fun while knitting the family ties stronger together than a weekend at the Madeliefie Makietie Festival.

Contact our offices on 027-213 1695 or 082-609 0192 to discuss a weekend break-away with us.

We are looking forward to welcoming you at River Lodge, where the smiles and the birdsong are complimentary!