Thonga Beach Lodge, Thonga Beach, South Africa

Craig, Peter and I were looking forward to the trip over to Thonga as it sits right on the beach and we were going to be there for 2 nights. I can cover a lot of ground in researching new areas and properties but it is nice to head in to one spot for more than a single night. In addition, this part of the South African coast by the Mozambique border, the Elephant Coast, is void of many accommodation options that sit right on the beach. The last 200 miles or so of the coast is a national park system and very few lodges are allowed on at at the beach.

The introduction to Thonga Beach Lodge did not disappoint as we entered the property from high atop 150 foot tall dunes. The panorama was wide out over the ocean and long along the beach looking north and south. The time was now approaching 1:30PM so the winds had kicked up enough to create some white caps in the distance.

12 rooms can be found here at Thonga, 5 with sea views and 7 set just a bit lower into the forest. Room number 6 was mine and while a forest view room, it was well lit due to the canopy of trees having been cut back. A big bathroom accompanied the twin bedded room as well as a substantial outdoor deck. Lunch was still being served so the three of us dropped our bags, indulged ourselves yet again on some excellent caloric intake and went to our respective rooms for a little downtime.

In and out of bags for the last few nights and days spent on the move helped me now appreciate getting unpacked and sitting on my deck. Nothing better than a run on the beach when I am here in Africa so I headed out about 4. The beach stretched out in front of me and the waves were rolling in pretty hard to my right as I started the trek northward towards the Mozambique border. The sand was soft nearer the water so I erred further towards the dunes in hopes of finding a harder surface on which to run. No luck. The sand accepted my footprints a bit too gently so I knew this run would be a bit more of a grind.

Sand crabs lined the small tidal pools as far as I could see. As I approached them they parted and again resumed their phalanxed positioning as I slogged past. Not sure how far I made it north but the wet sand cut the effort short of what I had hoped to do. Then again, the exercise is just that, exercise, so it means little how the heart repetitions are raised, just that they are increased. Beautiful view nonetheless.

Back up towards the lodge I decided to get into the water just to test the temperature. The late day winds had kicked up the wave activity quite a bit but the water temperature was right on the money for what was needed. Am not sure what the temperature might have been but I might guess in the mid 70’s. Walked up towards the pool deck and dropped into the water there for a quick rinse before heading to the room.

With a maximum of 24 guests, the property is quiet even when they are full, which they were on night one for us. Supper was a three course affair with a mushroom, feta cheese appetizer, curried chicken over pasta for the main and crème bruele for dessert. Portion size and quality were exceptional. Peter and Craig have also proven to be good travel mates which is a real bonus on a trip like this as often the company cannot be of such quality.

Bedtime came early as I crawled into bed with the doors and windows wide open. The ocean was just down the hill and I could hear quite easily the waves crashing to shore. This was almost winter in South Africa and the daytime temperatures had been in the high 70’s and the evening temps fell to the low 60’s, perfect for sleeping. Good spot this is, good spot, indeed.

Plenty of activities to take in here at Thonga. Peter wanted to take part in an ocean experience where we could snorkel along some reefs or perhaps near dolphins if they could be found. I committed to him the night prior I would go as Craig was heading out to snorkel the inland local reef within walking distance. Knowing my propensity for sea sickness I elected to pass on the ocean snorkel and just sleep in. Pleased to have made the decision to sleep in simple for decadent reasons.

Headed down to the restaurant deck and indulged in some more calories. Cheese, cereal and yogurt are on offer followed by the hot breakfast of choice. Ordered the special – a feta cheese, spinach and tomato omelet. Good stuff.

Took off for a late morning walk, this time heading south towards the extending point about 250 yards down the beach. Sand was still soft as I made my way. There was a lone woman fishing in the surf and we chatted a bit about her catch for the day. Walked around the point and past the reefs which host the myriad of vibrant and colorful fish.

Up to my right sat a set of high dunes, stretching perhaps 200 feet to the top. Could not resist the urge to scale them and take in the view from atop. Pleased to have made the trek and plopped myself down. Stretching miles into the sea and as far as I could see north and south there was not a sign of civilization. No ships, no man-made objects not a person. Nada. Nothing. Sat there in the same spot for a long while. Then laid in the same spot for a long while. The dunes had a thin covering of soft flowers which provided a nice mattress to make myself more at home. May well have sat there for an hour or more. Interesting feeling to be at the ocean and not see a sign of humanity for an hour or more and know that where you are staying down the beach is the only lodging 10 miles north and 20 miles south. Americans are used to people and buzz. No people, no buzz. Just sand, views and water.