Gems worth travelling for

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Sleep in style under the Camdeboo Karoo stars
Milky Way Star Bed, Samara Private Game Reserve, Eastern Cape

Perched on a riverbed a few kilometres from the main dwelling, the Samara Private Game Reserve Milky Way Star Bed is a simple wooden structure that offers a wildly sensory perspective into the Eastern Cape Karoo landscape and ecosystem.
The Star Bed has only the starlit night sky as a roof, and Karoo-cold air keeps your champagne perfectly chilled. A few cosy blankets, the basic bio-loo and an antique ceramic washbasin are all you need. And good company, of course…
As dusk settles, calls of black-backed jackal, rowdy chacma baboons and even a spotted eagle-owl usher in the Milky Way extravaganza. The four-poster beautifully frames the changing night sky. It’s no wonder it was recently included in the Top 10 Sexiest Hotels in the World by Cosmopolitan USA.

Good to know: The Milky Way Star Bed experience is only available in the hotter months between October and April and is always weather dependent. There is no cellphone reception. Guests are equipped with a satellite radio for emergencies and pick-up arrangements.
Cost: The Star Bed experience is available for Samara guests at a R2 000 surcharge, applicable to one or two guests. Guests must be booked into one of Samara’s lodges for a minimum of two nights and reservations are made on a first come, first served basis.
Book: Email reservations@samara.co.za
– Louzel Lombard Steyn

A tranquil country escape
Dunkeld Country & Equestrian Estate, Dullstroom, Mpumalanga

Whether you want a romantic breakaway or a family getaway, Dunkeld Country & Equestrian Estate near Dullstroom in Mpumalanga is a good option. Located about three hours from Johannesburg, Dunkeld offers lots of opportunity to unwind. Dad can practice his fly-fishing at several trout dams, while mom enjoys time out around the heated pool or at the spa.
The kids can keep busy at the entertainment centre’s games room, pool table, tennis court or mini golf course. Activities include horse riding, mountain biking, hiking, abseiling and rock climbing. Two restaurants offer scrumptious menus.

Good to know: Dullstroom is 2 100m above sea level and often covered by a blanket of mist, making it one of the coldest villages in South Africa.
Cost: From R1 552 for a hotel room for two, to R3 233 for a villa that sleeps six adults and two children. The Country Manor sleeps 10 and costs R4 720. Prices are charged per night.
Book: www.dunkeldestate.co.za
– Mariana Balt

Action-packed privacy
Talamati Bushveld Camp, Kruger National Park

The surrounding camp ambience is a typical mix of chattering crickets, serenading scops owls and an out-of-tune fruit bat. Suddenly, a violent screech erupts in front of the camp. Two thirsty herds of elephants have got their trunks in a twist over waterhole decorum. The chaos continues late into the night, much to the dissatisfaction of the local baboon troop.
On day two, wild dogs made quick work of a bushbuck at the fence. Other delights from the camp included a leopard, a hyena with an impala in its jaws, and the sound of lions during our last night.
This is the essence of Talamati. Each evening lulls you into bushveld meditation. Then, as you sink into your camping chair, an exciting altercation – usually visible from the hide in front of camp – interrupts your evening.

Good to know: With just 15 family units, Talamati is an intimate bush experience that doesn’t break the bank. Only wood and ice are available at camp, but Orpen is just 30 minutes away should you require more.
Cost: Cottages start at R1 355 for two people. The kitchen/dining room is an open veranda and has a two-plate gas stove, sink, fridge, cooking utensils, crockery and cutlery. There is
a ceiling fan in the room.
Book: www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/camps/talamati/
– Andy Wassung

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