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The plains of Africa, like a setting in the “Out of Africa” movie, surround you as you sit back with a glass of wine at the watering hole, with framed by the Historical Colonial homestead, dating back to 1828.
Here animals stand in line and wait patiently as the Majestic Grey Giants drink and play, and we as humans, sit back and watch in awe, at the scene unfolding before our very eyes.
You have arrived at Gorah Elephant Camp, beauty and luxury await you as you sit, lost in time and drink in the peace and tranquillity and yet, seeped in the walls filled with history, lays a sad & tragic story.
Gorah means “Natural Waters”. A story of yesteryear’s sadness and tragedy, reborn & restored into the beauty and peace of the 5 Star Gorah Elephant Camp.
Let’s take a step back in time….
It is 1828 Johannes Adrianus Vermaak builds the main house. He purchases a herd of Merino Sheep on auction and hopes that Gorah would be the correct climate for them. He was a timber farmer, and had found Gorah while out looking for timber.
His wife was Martha Maria Mueller and she bore him 11 children. She was said to arrive at Gorah at the age of 14.
Thomas Vermaak was their second eldest son. His four younger brothers departed with the Merino sheep for the Karoo and he was left with the main house and the Gorah Farm, whilst his father acquired another farm, in the district.
Anthony left Gorah to go in search of a wife. He met and married Hester Catherina from the Free State, when she was only 13 years old and brought her back to Gorah. She bore him no children, but was an excellent wife and farmhand. She was known as the Legendary Matriach in the Gorah History. They adopted Herman Vermaak, a nephew, and although he grew up on Gorah, he never returned there after the Boer War and later, becomes a successful doctor.
After Anthony’s death at the age of 55, Hester leaves Gorah and returns to the Free State. However, her longing for Gorah made her return to take up the helm of the farm, once more. She was later introduced to and married her 2nd husband, Henry Ernest Attrill, a banker from Port Elizabeth.
Henry was a keen hunter and sportsman. He loved the Addo Bush more than farming. Together they adopted Sydney Crick from a Bernado Home in England. He was a teenager when he arrived at Gorah and was supposed to become the foreman on the farm. He too, however, fell in love with hunting and the bushveld. It was on an elephant hunt that Henry shot an elephant baby and the mother took revenge and killed Henry. Henriette however, took her grief out on Sydney and made his life so unbearable, that he would often wander off for days, one day he wondered off into the veld and was never seen again. His body was never found.
Hester also adopted her niece, Blanche Emily De La Harpe who later held the title deeds to Gorah. Blanche and the family were forced to leave Gorah after the Second World War. Times were hard, drought had affected the crops and there was little water. They had introduced local cattle and the disease they brought with them killed the thoroughbred herds.
Hester died in 1915 and is buried on the Gorah Farm with her 1st and 2nd Husband.
Gorah was then sold and successive farmers continued to plough the soils and reap crops, but before long, disaster struck again and Gorah was abandoned. The Gorah Farm was incorporated the Addo Elephant Park in 1992. Once Gorah become incorporated into the Park, it was destined to be destroyed and the park wardens were to restore the farmlands to their former bushveld glory. The local community, deeply involved, in the historical memories of the farmhouse, known as the oldest farm in the district, began fighting for its rights to be protected under Historically Valuable Buildings. The pleas were heard and the Gorah Farmstead gained the privilege to be protected.
The Farmhouse became a Ranger Outpost, then a Children’s Educational Centre with sleeping quarters, where wilderness experiences were taught, but seldom used. The Concession Tender of the proposed Hotel and Tourism Section was released in 1998 and Hunter Hotels was successful in finalising the 40 Year Concession Agreement. The revamping and building of the Gorah Elephant Camp as it is known today, commenced in June 2000 and the first guests were welcome to Gorah at the end of December 2000.
Today, the Old Gorah House lies in the heart of the Addo National Park. It’s intimate atmosphere of that ancient beauty has survived here, year after year, like a single victorious ship that has often travelled through rough oceans of defeat. The Gorah Elephant Camp has risen to keep that Wonderful Legend alive.
The 1900’s was a time when the elite indulged in the extravagances of crystal, polished silver, white linen and G&’s in the afternoon. At Gorah, guests are transported back to this era through the day-to-day luxuries offered at the Camp. Guests staying at Gorah get to go out on game drives and have access to all the facilities on offer at the lodge. You can soak up the sun, shop, read, enjoy a glass of wine, go on guided walks, or share your adventure with your companions in the comfort and splendour of Gorah House.
Sheltered under thatched canopies, Gorah’s 11 tented luxurious and spacious, recalling the golden era of safari in the early 1900s. Each is enhanced with the fine comforts and excellence associated with Hunter Hotels.
Indoor & Outdoor Dining
At Gorah dining is a real occasion, whether in the Manor House, or one of the vast verandahs, overlooking the watering hole and the plains behind it. The outdoor Boma is yet another gathering place for dinner under the vast African sky. Idyllic settings to enjoy deliciously prepared meals by the Gorah chefs.
What you can experience at Gorah
Experience at Gorah, is to get a taste of History. Discover the walls of the Manor House, filled with photos, telling the story of yesteryear and its captivating rhythm that calls for adventure and fills your soul with an intense passion for the everchanging landscape, the majestic animals and the cultural diversity.
Guests are briefed on the programme upon arrival. There is also a written programme in the information folder in their tent. Meal times are not mandatory, but to each guests needs.
General programme is as follows:
All meals are included in the guests stay, As well as 2 game drives per day, All non-alcoholic drinks in the lodge as well as complimentary wines in the evening upon the return from the afternoon game drive, complimentary mini-bar in the tents & all drinks on game drive. For breakfast & dinner there is a A-la-Carte menu that guests can order from For lunch & high tea, it is a set menu.
The heritage of Gorah is bestowed in its history, its animals and the landscape. Children staying at Gorah go on an exciting journey through time to discover the enchantment of the camp and the incredible Addo National Park. They experience what it was like to walk in the shoes of their forefathers who lived at Gorah. The guides take special care to spend time with the children on game drives or back at the camp, teaching and guiding them through the wonders of history, nature and the African Bushveld.
Children 12+ are welcome.
What could be more prefect than to celebrate your most special day in the African Bush?
To celebrate a Wedding at Gorah, is a Dream come true… Waking up as the sun rises over the hills and the pink and orange slowly ebbs its way into your tent and rising to see your beautiful white dress hung and ready for you to wear on your wedding day. The romance, elegance and sheer beauty of the Manor House with the elephants drinking at the waterhole sets the scene for your very Special Day. The team at Gorah are on hand to assist with every detail. From planning to the execution of all the smallest details. Your wedding requirements will be tailor-made by their specialised wedding planner to suite your specific needs.
Imagine discovering the excitement of discovering Elephant, Rhino, Lion, Buffalo, Cheetah and Plains Game in their natural habitat that lingers long after returning to camp. The 5 000 hectare private concession is located deep in the heart of the Addo Elephant National Park.
Here evenings are punctuated by the strident howl of the black-backed jackal and the francolin’s call heralds each new dawn. Safe from the relentless persecution of the past, the grey giants of the bush now roam in peace. The original elephant section of the park, proclaimed in 1931, when only 11 elephants remained in the area. Today this is finely tuned ecosystem is a sanctuary to over 600 elephant, buffalo, lion, black rhino and a variety of antelope species as well as the unique flightless dung beetle, found almost exclusively in Addo. Take a step back in time and revitalize your soul as you too stare across the watering hole and over the African Plains.
Gorah Elephant Camp where the Manor House has stood the test of History and today proudly stands in all her Majesty to welcome in new generations.