Idyllic Victoria Falls retreat
Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park, Zambia
Thorntree River Lodge is one of the newer luxury lodges on the Zambian side of the world-renowned Victoria Falls. What makes Thorntree River Lodge so special is the combination of its position right on the Zambezi River with the architecture of the lodge. It provides ample views of the Zambezi and the nearby Victoria Falls from the deck, your plunge pool and even from the comfort of your four-poster bed. Thorntree River Lodge is a retreat designed for those travellers who, while enjoying luxurious accommodation, are really looking to get out into the wild. The environmentally conscious design and locally inspired decor of the lodge combine to provide guests with a truly authentic and unforgettable African experience.
Good to know: The signs on the footpaths warning guests about nearby crocodiles and hippos are no joke. Thorntree River Lodge is so well integrated into the surrounding wildlife along the Zambezi that hippos and crocodiles move freely around the lodge and near the footpaths.
Cost: Expect to pay R6 991 per person sharing for a suite from December
and into the New Year.
Dive, kite surf, indulge, repeat
Bahia Mar Boutique Hotel, Vilankulo, Mozambique
Bahia Mar has a range of entertaining activities for guests, from diving, kite-surfing, biking and dhow safaris to snorkelling. Or you can opt to relax and indulge in a spa treatment at the Spa and Wellness Centre. Make the space your own, from a relaxing beach holiday under the palm trees to an activity-packed adventure. It is a great destination for ethical travellers, and hotel staff are very clued up on giving back to Vilankulo.
Good to know: While South Africans do not require a visa, all overseas countries will have to obtain a visa at the border or airport. Self-drivers require a 4×4 vehicle. Visit your nearest travel clinic to enquire about malaria medication as Mozambique is a high-risk area.
Cost: Varies from $190 to $280 per night.
Meandering the Midlands
Only eight kilometres north-east of Nottingham Road and just off the N3 highway, lies Brahman Hills, a beautiful venue offering a hotel and selfcatering accommodation. Not only is this the ideal venue for a wedding, function or conference in the heart of the Natal Midlands, it is also the perfect stopover for travellers between Gauteng and the KwaZulu-Natal coast. A chapel on the lake and large reception area make for picture-perfect weddings. The cottages, located in the Blue Crane Nature Reserve, boast private decks with braai and jacuzzi, as well as a fully kitted kitchen, dining area and lounge. A spa with excellent facilities is available for those in need of pampering.
Good to know: Guests at the self-catering cottages can use the fine-dining restaurant and bar facilities at the hotel for breakfast or supper. The Midlands Kitchen, right next door to Brahman Hills, also offers delicious meals.
Cost: From R2 235 (for two) to R6 000 (for eight) per self-catering cottage. Hotel rooms start from R1 895 per couple including breakfast.
Wildlife, views and vultures
Bontle Tented Camp, Marakele National Park, Thabazimbi
Bontle Tented Camp is located quite close to the park’s entrance gate. This alternative to camping is ideal as there is no need to spend valuable time pitching tents. These units are not ultra-luxurious, but offer everything required for a comfortable self-catering stay. Each tented unit comes with soft beds, a small bathroom with shower, and kitchenette and braai area outside. There are options for couples with two single beds, and family units furnished with a double and two single beds. All the units offer unobtrusive views of the unspoiled bush, and antelope might walk past your unit. While there, take the time to drive up to the Lenong Viewpoint. Not only are the views truly spectacular, the viewpoint gets you close to one of the largest breeding colonies of Cape vultures in the world.
Good to know: It is a 10-minute drive from Thabazimbi to the park gate, so if you need supplies it is easy to pop in to town. There is no shop in the park, so all provisions need to be taken along.
Cost: From R1 231 to R1 539 for two people, depending on season. This excludes conservation fees.
A destination in the sky
Maliba Lodge, Tsehlanyane National Park, Lesotho
Maliba Lodge, an hour’s drive from Clarens, is home to the Lesotho Ultra Trail; Prince Harry is a regular visitor on his trips to Lesotho. The lodge is situated in an enchanting ‘ouhout’ (Leucosidea sericea) forest with an exquisite mountain view. Habituated eland can be seen feeding on the hillside, and the woodlands bustle with birdlife.
Good to know: Maliba Lodge is considered the only five-star accommodation in the country, rated according to Lesotho standards. Nights are chilly so take something warm. The mountain kingdom is ideal habitat for Big 5; the reserve’s wildlife is limited but the walks are sublime.
Cost: From R800 to R3 300, excluding meals.
Photo: Ukali Media
A touch of Karoo luxury in Karoo country
Mountain View Country Guesthouse, Cradock
For a true break from city life, head to Spekboomberg Farm. Situated about 24km from Cradock, guests will enjoy Karoo tranquillity while experiencing a working farm. The mountainous surroundings offer a safe haven to kudu, nyalas and other small antelope species, while flocks of blue cranes are also residents in the area. The four-star rooms are stylishly decorated and consist of a small sitting room, with a bar fridge, coffeemaking facilities and complimentary Wi-Fi. Rooms are equipped with flatscreen TVs while the bathroom, with a big bath and shower, is spacious. Guests can order a picnic basket and take the 4×4 route to the top of the mountain, or even take leisurely walks on the property.
Good to know: About a 20-minute drive will take you to town or to the Mountain Zebra National Park. There is a swimming pool to enjoy on scorching days, communal kitchen and braai facilities.
Cost: Rooms are priced from R1 200 per night for two people. The family room can accommodate four for R1 400 and the cottage for five costs R2 000.
Sun, sea and whales
Slangkop Tented Camp, Table Mountain National Park
Fancy a stay closer to nature, but not in the mood to fight with setting up tents? The Slangkop Tented Camp in the Table Mountain National Park in Kommetjie is the perfect choice for anyone looking for a self-catering stay. The camp is in the heart of the residential area, but you will feel far from civilisation. Each unit is furnished with two single beds and with six units available, the entire family can be accommodated. Both the ablutions and kitchen facilities are communal and a boma is ideal for larger gatherings. With marine elements throughout the entire camp, the sound of crashing waves and the shade of indigenous milkwoods.
Good to know: The boardwalk next to the ocean is easily accessible from the rest camp. The Slangkop Lighthouse is nearby and Cape Point is a short drive.
Cost: Prices range between R586 and R686 (depending on season) for two people in self-catering accommodation.