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MAKAKATANA BAY LODGE (article first published : 1999-05-4)

Born in Aberdeen, an 18-year old young Scotsman called Jock Morrison arrived in the Lake St Lucia area in the early 1900ís to run a trading store. He eventually bought eight acres at Makakatana Bay on the western shores of Lake St Lucia, adding on a further two acres to pursue his hobby of farming crabs to supply Durban restaurants.

He built up a chain of trading stores of his own and, although he died in the prime of his life from blackwater fever at the age of 32, his name became a household word in the Hluhluwe area.

On April 1, 1999, the spirit of Jock Morrison could very well have been looking on proudly as youngest grandson Hugh and his wife Leigh-Ann opened the exclusive luxury Makakatana Bay Lodge.

April Foolsí Day it may have been, but the young Morrisons are far from foolish as they launch the only privately-owned lodge situated on the banks of the `Greater St Lucia Wetland Parkí which is soon to be declared a `world heritageí site.

Makakatana Bay Lodge is situated in the middle of Parks Board reserve on land which has been owned Ė and wisely held on to - by the Morrison family since the 1930's. About two and a half hoursí drive from Durban, itís 30 km from the turn off to Mtubatuba along the road towards Charters Creek.

The gloriously unspoilt surroundings provide an undeniable attraction for lovers of wild life (no Big Five but warthogs and masses of buck, Nyala and Kudu) or bird life (360 species) or the environment. (mercifully now safe from the threat of dune mining). You can tramp in the bush all day to your heartís content or laze around the pool. Better still, take a boat ride with the amiable and informative Guy van Vuuren who hosted Prince Charles when he visited St Lucia. Watch crocs sunning themselves, hippos at play and a fish eagle lazily swoop down to pull a mullet out of the water a few yards in front of you.

At night thereís a change of atmosphere. Soft lights line the boardwalks linking the charming suites. A quick cocktail from the well-stocked bar fridge and a luxuriating soak in the glass ceiling bathroom prepares you for the evening meal. The Morrisons have wisely snapped up chef Rodrick Diaz who specialises in Pan African cuisine and has many years experience in the game lodge field. He was recently with Zansiís restaurant at the BAT Centre in Durban.

At night thereís a change of atmosphere. Soft lights line the boardwalks linking the charming suites. A quick cocktail from the well-stocked bar fridge and a luxuriating soak in the glass ceiling bathroom prepares you for the evening meal. The Morrisons have wisely snapped up chef Rodrick Diaz who specialises in Pan African cuisine and has many years experience in the game lodge field. He was recently with Zansiís restaurant at the BAT Centre in Durban.

Leigh-Ann Morrison professes to have no design training but she has a natural flair and the suites are elegantly decorated in a mixture of Bali and African styles. While there are ceiling fans and airconditioning, itís much nicer to fling wide the glass doors lining three sides of the suite while keeping the insect screens closed to deter any nasties who may feel sociable during the night!

Day trips can be organised to the Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game Reserves, the beaches of Cape Vidal and St Lucia and Dumazulu Cultural Village. Rack rates include dinner, bed and breakfast R800 pps (R1 200 single) until October 1999 when they will be increased from November to October 2000 to R1 200pps (R1 600 single). Children over the age of 12 are most welcome.

Bookings can be made by phone or fax to 035 550 4189 or e-mail maklodge@iafrica.com.


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