OUR 2019/20 ECO AND ANIMAL FRIENDLY FEATURED VEGAN LODGES
DECEPTION VALLEY LODGE
Nearly at our destination after arriving in Maun Airport, we hopped on to the Detla Air bus which delivered us to a small 6 seater plane, to make it to our final destination, Deception Valley Lodge. A short 30-minute flight and we descended to the bush air strip. Our guide Jacobus excitedly welcomed us and loaded our luggage on to the safari vehicle and we were off, keeping an eye out for any game that might be lurking in the undergrowth. An immense sense of adventure, thrilled all of us knowing that we were truly in the wilderness.
Arriving at Deception Valley Lodge we were welcomed with a refreshing face cloth and a big smile from the manageress and head chef Nishka. We were invited to make ourselves at home in the very
comfortable lounge on the deck overlooking a little water hole where a courting pair of Steenbok were playfully enjoying the shady retreat. Having connected from a previous flight and been traveling for a while we were quite peckish by now. I am always a little anxious being a vegan
who travels a lot I know that even when traveling in upmarket retreats it can be hit and miss where our dietary requirements are concerned.
Moments later we were seated at the beautifully decked rustic table and presented with a fresh and colorful looking salad of radish, snap peas & julienne carrots with a zesty granadilla dressing, melba toast and a delicious beetroot hummus. Having several colors of the rainbow it was a tantalizing feast for the eyes as well as the palate. It was not too little but just enough to keep you wanting more. I myself being quite petite was satisfied but thought of those with a bigger appetite who may have needed more to fill them up between now and our evening meal.
I need not have been concerned as we were told that tea time, was at 4pm. Our room was spacious, with a separate lounge and bedroom with a beautiful roll top bath and an outdoor shower. Tastefully decorated with relics of the bush.
Following our time to settle in to our rooms and refresh ourselves, we made our way to the lounge. Mishka put on a delightful spread we were served an enticing treat of aubergine fritters with a delicious homemade sweet chilli sauce followed by a scrumptious chocolate brownie. For the vegetarians, there were also dainty looking yoghurt tart-lets. Good filter coffee, tea and homemade biscuits were also made available before we departed from the camp for our afternoon walk with the Bushman.
We set off with Jacobus and our Bushman guides Xhuma and Tsotsa after a short drive, we dismounted our vehicle. Jacobus explained that we would explore the bush on foot, with members of the Naru-speaking tribe, one of the oldest cultures in Africa. Xhuma and Tsotsa spoke in Naru with Jacobus translating. We learnt how the San people had adapted their lives to survive in the most inhospitable environments. Following our spellbinding walk with our Naru bushman guides had a moment to reflect and share a sun downer drink. We nibbled on bombay mix and dry fruit rolls whilst warming ourselves by the fire they had so skilfully and seemingly effortlessly made with two sticks and some dried grass.
We were welcomed back to camp after dark by the cosy looking golden glow of candles and the campfire. We had a moment to relax and ruminate over the highlights of our experience with the bushman. We were then seated and served our starter a beautifully presented starter of grilled peaches, lentils and cauliflower doused in a homemade herb dressing. Goats cheese was added for the vegetarians. The flavours were intense but light and well balanced. Our chef who is a
vegetarian clearly had a passion for her work. For our main course we were served BBQ aubergine steaks marinated in a basil pesto and served with a rich and creamy butternut risotto which
was bursting with flavour. A blue cheese was added for the vegetarians. For dessert we were spoiled with Banana pancakes in a whiskey and caramel sauce served with a crispy honeycomb brittle.
All the while being topped up with a good red wine and seamless service. Nobody was going to bed without feeling treated and relaxed in this remarkably tranquil setting. We then moved the short distance to the lounge and sank into the lavish couches to enjoy a nightcap to the sound of a perturbed Jackal making his presence known.
The next morning, we were woken at 5:30am and were greeted in the lounge by the smell of freshly brewed coffee. An assortment of homemade biscuits was on offer with mixed cereals with soya milk and fresh fruit were made available so we did not go hungry on our morning adventure.
We enjoyed a full morning of exploring the local area, leaning about the different plants and animal tracks. We also saw a caracal hunting birds on the landing strip which we had been on the previous day.
As we arrived back in camp the smell of our brunch cooking wafted from the kitchen over the deck as we returned from our game drive, exciting our senses before we sat down. Nishka greeted us with a bounce and a smile from the kitchen. On the table was a beautifully presented fresh fruit salad, she informed us brunch would be served shortly. A moment later a delicately arranged
plate with a sweet potato rosti, grilled tomato’s and a homemade chutney were set before us. The table was laden with an array of savory delights such as mustard's, pickles, olives and pimentos. A hearty bowl filled with delicious freshly made coconut bread, toast and preserves were the
center piece. For the vegetarians, a cheese platter was laid out and a lightly scrambled egg topped their grilled tomato.
After a blissfully relaxing day reading by the pool whilst watching a family of Warthogs sparring by the water hole we regrouped for our pre-game drive appetizer. Crispy tempura and poppy seed bok choi were on offer with a freshly made potato samoosa and sweet chillie sauce. A delicate vanilla iced cupcake just cooled from the oven was a treat with our afternoon tea before embarking on our next adventure into the bush with our guides.
After our exciting game drive graced with two majestic lionesses and their five cubs we were a little chilly having spend extra time tracking with our guides. A freshly baked rosemary bun and a bowl of warm vegetable soup was the perfect thing. The stories of the bush were flowing and we barely realized our next course had arrived. A vibrant dish of Bulgar wheat with raisins and a vegetable goulash were in front of us. The flavors were not to disappoint with a refreshing topping of
shredded cucumber marinaded in lemon, mint and coriander. For dessert a port poached apple, served with crumble no less.
On the morning of our departure feeling sorry our stay was coming to an end, we were cheered up with a festive looking Hawaiian crumpet stack served with sauteed zucchini, mushrooms, sun dried tomato paste sprinkled with fresh Pineapple. Freshly baked raisin and poppy seed bread. It was all too tempting and a lovely way to finish this great food experience.
Understanding the challenges the chefs must face catering in such a remote location where the nearest shop is 150km away it was astonishing how there was no compromise on the food with its freshness and flavours and attention to detail paid to presentation down to the lively nasturtium flowers balanced on the edge of our breakfast plates, their efforts can only come highly commended.