An Areena History of the beginning

Posted on: May 4, 2020, in Adventure & Fun, News

Ever wonder how Areena came about? Well here is a highlights version of the story.

Ed and Karen Rathbone started with a caravan park in 1984, but back then you could hire only one of the 34 sites on offer along the Kwelera River, compared to the 150 sites they have today. These sites had limited water and no electricity.

The vision of the Rathbones was great, and they continued to develop Areena as and when they could. In the early days, Ed hired lawn cutting equipment, and did the mowing himself. The ‘office’ was also their home a 5 x 5 building, the perfect place for inspired youngsters with a vision ahead of them, to start a family legacy.

There were no trees as the resort was farmland – all the beautiful trees you see today, that give shade to the campers and are home to the abundant bird life where planted by Ed and Karen. A great vision from such early on…

As the popularity of Areena grew, and additional funds and guests demands increased, the self-catering accommodation was developed.  The first rondavel, being a renovated water reservoir, which is still in use today, and is a popular accommodation unit. Following on the communal areas, the club house was developed with the plans for a restaurant and conference venue to follow in the future, both of which were realised, and are popular attractions. The Areena Quays Restaurant has a delicious Sunday Buffet Lunch, the perfect way to enjoy a family lunch surrounded by the resort beauty.

The Adventure Village was inspired by the landscape, to offer something unique to the area and Ed’s love of adventure, it soon become a popular attraction for guests and day visitors. Today the Adventure Village offers, zip line tours, guided game viewing quad tours, canoe trails on the river, paintball, archery, corporate teambuilding, and so much more. The Game Reserve developed as a dream of Eds, to always own wildlife, and as such the Game Reserve was conceptualised and slowly populated with a variety of game species, and of course, Abby, who was able to be adopted as an orphaned giraffe and cared for in this wonderful environment that had been created. Abby has international fame from tourists sharing their experiences on their social media pages. Areena often has guests coming to ask about Abby.

Areena has always had a family focus and encourages outdoor fun for families where kids can be kids.
Ed and Karen have a passion for Areena, and it extends down to all the staff who together share that passion and his is evident to anyone who visits Areena Riverside Resort.

Caravans from 1986, at the beginning of the caravan resort

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