Luxury in the wild
Nyamatusi Camp, Mana Pools, Zimbabwe
Deep in the wilds of Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park you will find Nyamatusi, an intimate, luxurious camp that offers stunning views, attentive hospitality and a rare level of luxury. With only six lavish tents, each with air conditioning and a private plunge pool, you are sure to enjoy an authentic experience only untouched Africa can offer. Passionate and knowledgeable guides guarantee thrilling game drives.
Good to know: From your bedroom, you can stroll to your viewing deck to enjoy the beautiful views of the passing Zambezi River. The camp is fully solar powered and offers in-room charging facilities.
Cost: Starting from R6 150 per person sharing for a large suite. Fully Inclusive (meals, beverages, game drives and extras). Special prices are valid until June.
Palm trees, fruit bats and drinks at the pool
Omali Lodge, São Tomé
The palm trees in the Omali Lodge gardens don’t move much in the wind, as this small island nation is situated in the doldrums, a low-pressure area around the equator where prevailing winds are calm. Hidden among their fronds is a colony of fruit bats that, come sunset, provide the perfect entertainment for sundowners around the pool. Endemic birdlife includes Newton’s sunbird (Anabathmis newtonii), which can be spotted from the rooms.
The menu is a combination of traditional and western food. Pizza is seasoned with matabala, a popular local herb, and local chocolate – it is the Chocolate Islands after all – are coffee are delicious. Staff members are friendly, and available to help book transport to the various tourist destinations around the island. It’s the ideal place for a family holiday, adventure, or a business trip.
Good to know: Omali Lodge is a stone’s throw from the airport and an ideal stopover for travellers heading to Príncipe Island. Alternatively, it is an ideal base for exploring São Tomé. Malaria medication is required. American, European and UK passport or visa holders as well as all citizens of Portuguese-speaking African countries are exempt from tourist visas.
Cost: From R2812 per person per night.
Exclusive tented luxury in a Big Five reserve
Thanda Safari Tented Camp, Hluhluwe
Thanda Safari Private Nature Reserve is situated in the wilderness in KwaZulu-Natal, between Mkuze and Hluhluwe. The tents have spacious en-suite bathrooms, outside showers and a private deck. At night pathways are lit using paraffin lamps, adding to the ambience of a true African experience. A large communal lounge with bar, spa, pool and sala – perfect spotting animals at a waterhole – provides ample opportunity for relaxation between exciting early morning and evening game drives. Meals are served in a dining hall or around the fire in the boma, with entertainment by Zulu dancers. A curio shop is also available to keep the loved ones at home happy.
Good to know: Guests are collected at the main gate and driven to the camp. Electricity in the camp is solar powered and usage is limited to charging cellphones and camera batteries. Regrettably, no children under the age of six are accommodated, and only one child may share accommodation with two adults.
Costs: From R2 667 per person sharing. Children 6-16 years pay 50%.
Relaxation at the water’s edge
Turbine Hotel and Spa, Thesen Island, Knysna
Before it was converted into accommodation, this used to be a power station supplying electricity to the town. Today this five-star boutique hotel offers a unique experience to its visitors. All the old machinery used in the power station now forms part of the decor and is integral to the hotel’s aesthetic. Each of the rooms is decorated according to a different theme, some with a small balcony and exquisite views. The Turbine Water Club offers canoe rental, sunset cruises on the Knysna estuary, and bicycle rental. From here, you can also explore the surrounding Garden Route National Park. A short drive will take you to the Goudveld Forest where you can go for a hike, see giant trees and enjoy a picnic. For a more laid-back kind of day, unwind next to the pool with its beautiful views over the Thesen Island waterways.
Good to know: The Turbine Spa offers a wide range of therapies and treatments.
Cost: R1 735–R2 110 per person sharing in a standard room, includes breakfast.
For the environmentally conscious traveller
With large trees, beautiful gardens and prolific birdlife, Rosedale is the perfect place to unwind. Best of all, the cottages on this working organic citrus farm were designed to have minimal impact on the environment. With their high thatched roofs, they are cool in summer and warm in winter. Large windows allow for natural light to brighten the rooms. The farm is self-sufficient when it comes to drinking and cooking water, and solar water heaters ensure a warm shower after an active day. All their soaps and shampoos are free from harmful chemicals so not only are they biodegradable, but will leave your skin feeling soft. Guests opting for breakfast can look forward to locally sourced foods, home-baked bread, and fresh organic orange juice. The natural swimming pool offers solace on scorching days. Rosedale is the ideal base for exploring the area, with attractions such as Addo Elephant National Park’s main gate just 10 minutes away.
Good to know: The property is easily accessible from Port Elizabeth, and for those who don’t want to cater for themselves there are lots of restaurants in the village of Addo.
Cost: R1 000 per night for two people.
Unwind in the misty mountains
Granny Dot’s Country Spot, Tzaneen
If you love misty mountains, beautiful gardens and scrumptious breakfasts, Granny Dot’s Country Spot just 20 minutes from Tzaneen is for you. Not only is Granny Dot’s situated in the heart of the Agatha Forest Reserve, it also comes with a view over the Wolkberg mountain range. It is tastefully decorated, and luxurious rooms with en-suite bathrooms cater for all needs. A swimming pool, large boma and porch with comfortable chairs allow you to take advantage of the beautiful views. This is an ideal base for hikers, joggers and cyclists eager to explore the trails and roads around the area. Birders will love the destination and with a bit of luck, you might catch a glimpse of small game.
Good to know: Breakfast is optional. Supper may be pre-booked if you don’t feel like driving to town for a meal. Two of the rooms allow for self-catering should you wish to prepare your own meals.
Costs: Starting from R400 per person sharing (R470 single) without breakfast or a view. Rooms with breakfast and a view are R525 per person sharing (R550 single).
Little hidden gem
Box Cottage, Rooipoort Private Nature Reserve, Kimberley
The relatively unknown 40 000-hectare Rooipoort Nature Reserve lies about 60km west of Kimberley, and dates back to 1893 when eight farms were purchased on recommendation by Cecil John Rhodes. The property was a hunting farm, but today it protects a number of species such as red hartebeest, eland, roan, sable and buffalo. While there are plenty of accommodation options, the shooting box complex is of great historic significance. The shooting box itself was shipped over from England in 1899 in kit form. The complex includes the shooting box, box cottage, cooler and stables. The cottage is fully equipped for a self-catering stay and rounded off with old-fashioned trimmings, such as old light switches and beautiful wooden floors. The cottage has two bedrooms, a dining room, bath, toilet and shower. An indoor fireplace with a good wood supply provides warmth during cold evenings. There is also an outside braai area. Apart from game viewing, the property also borders the Vaal River where fishing, canoeing and picnics are allowed.
Good to know: Not all wildlife has been habituated yet, so spending time at waterholes can be more rewarding than driving around.
Costs: Contact [email protected] for the latest costs.