A Frog Safari at The Dunes in Plettenberg Bay MzansiBride

Winona Griggs

A Frog Adventure at The Dunes in Plettenberg Bay

I feel just like Christopher Robin getting ready for an “expedition”! I’ve got on my gumboots (even though they’re a bit too small), I’ve got a headlamp on, and I’ve brought a fishing net – the kind you use at the beach. But I’m not alone! I’ve got Bob and Marge with me (not their real names, but they look like a Bob and a Marge). We had a delicious dinner of ostrich steak in The Dune’s dining room earlier, and now we’re all geared up for frogging!

Originally, I was supposed to go on this adventure tomorrow night. However, when I found out that I would be the only guest at The Dunes then, I decided to tag along with Bob and Marge. They’re really friendly and we’ve been chatting away. They’re from the UK, and I would guess they’re in their fifties.

I say goodbye to Sarah, the manageress at The Dunes, with a wave as Henry, a local guy responsible for The Dune’s veggie garden and worm farm, leads the way.

Leaving behind the warm glow of the main house’s window, we head towards the paddock down the road. The night wraps around us, so quiet and peaceful. We lower our voices and listen to the symphony of nocturnal sounds. The Dunes is nestled within 600 hectares of what they call a “pristine” nature reserve. It certainly feels like we’re deep in the countryside, although the salty tang of the sea mingles with the fragrant aroma of the natural vegetation. St Francis Bay, just a few kilometers away, is responsible for that delightful blend.

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I follow Henry’s lead as we scramble over a fence, finding ourselves sinking into the muddy countryside. There’s something about the combination of wellies and mud in the dark that brings out the childlike wonder in us all!

Sadly, the season for frogs is coming to an end. Instead of the usual chorus that welcomes visitors earlier in the year, we only hear one lonely frog croaking among the reeds.

However, Henry quickly spots another frog, he calls it a “Plat Anna”. He carefully lowers his net, but the nimble little frog escapes. A few minutes later, Henry snaps a reed and we gather around a tiny frog, no bigger than my thumbnail, perched on it. We all marvel at its minuscule size as Henry identifies it as a Painted Reed Frog.

As I spend the next 20 minutes observing, I am delighted to encounter a few more of these charming little creatures. I spot a soloist perched on a stick in the water, emitting its lonely call. When my light shines on it, the frog falls silent. I decide to leave it in peace, but a few minutes later, I hear its call again, joined by another frog’s echo from across the pond.

Henry, my companion, and I determine that we have seen enough for the night. We return to the house to check the lawn for any lingering frogs, and there I stumble upon a spotty toad about the size of my palm. This marks the end of our Frog Safari – a short but incredibly enjoyable experience.

The Dunes is a true gem for nature enthusiasts like myself. The suites are spacious and tastefully decorated, with little details that I find particularly appealing, such as the wicker chairs adorned with floral cushion covers on the porch. Sarah, the host, is warm, friendly, and always ready for a pleasant chat, which is especially nice for someone like me who is traveling alone.

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But let me tell you, being in this place just for a few hours, you can’t help but be captivated by its untouched natural beauty. Now, I’m not an expert on birds, but let me tell you, there are so many of them around here. Picture this: you’re sitting on the stoep, sipping on a glass of Splattered Toad red wine, which, by the way, is the perfect choice for a place that takes frog and toad conservation seriously. And what do you see? A whole variety of birds! It’s like a treasure hunt, trying to spot them all with my trusty binoculars and birding books.

And you know what adds to my enjoyment? The fact that The Dunes is FTTSA accredited. That means they really care about the environment, and it shows. Everywhere you look, you can see the love and passion they have for preserving this beautiful place. It’s not just about the guests; it’s about fair trade and taking care of their staff too. Knowing that the people working here are treated well makes a difference, you know?

I can’t help but imagine coming back to The Dunes someday. It’s one of those places that just restores your soul, you know what I mean?

If you want to find out about any specials they have or check out other similar places, head over to Abang Africa. And if you’re curious to learn more about FTTSA, the organization that accredits places like The Dunes, they’ve got a website too. Oh, and don’t forget to give them a like on Facebook!

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