TRAVEL: Stellar stays in SA
Intraprovincial leisure travel is legal again. To celebrate, Candice Botha rounded up some stellar spots to escape to throughout the country
Just sneaking into the province (it’s near the border with Limpopo) and part of Dinokeng Game Reserve, Ngala Lodge is heaven for harassed Gautengers. We don’t have great getaway options in the province, but thankfully this spot more than fits the bill. Gather up the family and take over the whole place (it sleeps 10), and cater for yourself. Alternatively, the resident chef and butler are on standby if pots and pans sound like a hassle. Spend hours lying in the sun by the pool or relaxing in your contemporary safari-style suite. And then, of course, head out for a game drive across the reserve. At night, there’s a boma for fireside chats and a highveld sky full of stars.
It goes without saying that beach houses should be right on the beach. All that separates Sheffield Views — in Salt Rock near Ballito — from the shoreline is an emerald lawn ideal for a game of garden cricket or a leisurely picnic after a morning spent exploring rock pools. With seven bedrooms, all with sea views, it’s ideal for a family getaway and you can be sure of beach weather year-round. A swimming pool to wash off after a dip in the ocean, state-of-the-art kitchen and open-plan living areas that invite complete relaxation combine to create the perfect beachside family retreat.
Star Dam Estate
Star Dam Estate is in the heart of the verdant Dargle valley in the Midlands and its secluded waterside location (the eponymous dam) makes it a tranquil retreat with magnificent views and lots of activities, including horse riding, mountain biking, hiking and boating off your private jetty. After the day’s adventures snuggle up fireside in one of the three beautifully decorated, luxurious self-catering lodges, which sleep up to a dozen guests each. The unspoilt countryside is picturesque no matter the season and the surrounding area offers plenty of culinary treasures that you can use to prepare a feast. It’s the perfect spot to banish the isolation blues.
Tintswalo at Boulders Boutique Villa
Simon’s Town is easily one of the Cape’s most charming spots. From Tintswalo at Boulders you can enjoy views of its famous Boulders beach and easy visits to the colony of endangered African penguins that live there, along with walks on the fynbos-covered slopes of the mountain, lounging by the pool or a massage in your suite. The villa itself blends luxury and livability with meticulous attention to detail and personal service that includes a sumptuous breakfast and afternoon snacks. The suites are named in tribute to famous ships that sailed the ocean outside. You can book individual suites or, for maximum privacy, the whole nine-suite villa for your exclusive use.
Morukuru Ocean House
Not only can you book the whole of Morukuru Ocean House for your exclusive use, it’s already situated in the remote De Hoop Nature Reserve. Considered the ultimate place in SA to see southern right whales, the reserve offers towering white sand dunes, limestone cliffs, rock pools and coastal fynbos. Fully off the grid, you won’t need to worry about any levels here — lockdown or load-shedding. With space for eight adults and four children, this is an ideal spot to reconnect with family in complete isolation and in the lap of luxury with a sparkling pool, your own private kitchen and chef, and delicious food and drinks served by your personal butler.
Paternoster is one of those unique places that you won’t forget easily. With its quaint whitewashed buildings and wind-blown vegetation, the town perches on the edge of a blue Atlantic bay that will take your breath away — literally, if you dare venture into the waves in winter. The people are welcoming and the food divine and one of the best examples of West Coast hospitality can be found at Gelukkie. The charming wedding venue has two rustic-chic self-catering cottages with a laid-back feel that will make you unwind instantly. Stroll into town for the makings of a feast fresh from the sea and enjoy it in Gelukkie’s shady garden before whiling away the afternoon on your hanging daybed. The family-run establishment’s welcoming atmosphere and attention to detail will have you heading back to recharge again and again.
Bukela Game Lodge
Privacy and tranquility await at the five-star Bukela Game Lodge on the Big Five Amakhala Game Reserve in the Addo region. Four suites and 10 luxury safari tents set in a secluded valley allow for a complete escape. A series of wooden walkways allow you to appreciate the natural bush surroundings. The dining experience ticks all the boxes for an authentic African safari. High tea? Tick. Romantic candlelit dinner under the stars? Yup. A fireside boma? Indeed. Famous for its regular elephant (and occasional leopard) sightings at the lodge’s waterhole, Bukela offers an exceptional game viewing experience and game drives.
Saseka Tented Camp
Thornybush nature reserve is 14,000ha of heaven with a variety of lodges and camps. Our top pick is the magnificent Saseka Tented Camp overlooking the Monwana River. The 10 tented suites, each with its own swimming pool, are spaced around two common areas — the smaller one serving as an exclusive camp within a camp for small groups and families. Influenced by the romantic narrative of tented camps of yesteryear, the tents have been reimagined with a gentle nod to nostalgia but with an emphasis very much on 21st century design that lets the sounds of nature and the bush filter in. The game viewing is unbeatable too, and this area is frequented by elephants, antelope, leopards and colourful birds. Ideal for a socially distanced holiday.
Morukuru Farm House
Set in Madikwe Game Reserve, this contemporary African homestead is a wonderful retreat for the whole family that prides itself on a sense of kick-off-your-shoes-and-curl-up-on-the-couch comfort. Five luxurious en suite bedrooms are connected by a covered walkway, and a private staff of eight, including a guide, tracker, hostess, chef, butler and housekeepers will look after your every wish. The Farm House is surrounded by luscious green lawns and set within a 100ha fenced-in safe area, so kids can play and guests have the freedom to explore.
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