After a thrilling yet bumpy game drive (and a stop for sundowners), all you want to do is sink into a warm bubble bath and allow your muscles to relax. But once back in your room, you remember your private jacuzzi is bubbling away, with its warm steam escaping into the freezing Limpopo air and it becomes a hard call. What should you do?
If you’re like me, you’ll quickly strip down to your swimming trunks and make the hot tub your home for an hour or two. There are few things in life as precious as sitting under a sparkling tapestry of stars with an unspoilt view of the Limpopo’s Waterberg, sipping vanilla Nespresso while jets of hot water massage your back.
Maybe what makes the fivestar Fifty Seven Waterberg so special is it’s a worry-free escape. Situated in the pristine Welgevonden Game Reserve, the luxury lodge gives guests the best bush experience money can buy. Once you leave your vehicle at the Welgevonden gate, you are in the hands of the friendly people expertly running the lodge.
They will pick you up in a Landy and transport you to bliss. From here on all you are required to do is enjoy every minute of the stunning landscape while savouring perfectly prepared cuisine and relaxing in your not-so-humble 80m2 room.
Each room features a giant patio with a hammock, recliners and that hot tub. It’s almost like discovering the fountain of youth – I swear I could feel my pores tightening and my frown lines diminishing during the weekend. The charms started on Friday night, when we popped the cork on a bottle of sparkling wine before heading to the main lodge for dinner. The main lodge is a multifunction space. Think of it as your TV lounge, dining room, pool area, deck, bar, library and the heart of your stay at Fifty Seven Waterberg. Opting for a bottle of Shiraz to go with our Filet de Boeuf, I had to take a minute to marvel at the intimacy. With a maximum of 10 guests, Fifty Seven Waterberg will never be crowded. The main course was followed by a homemade ice cream packed full of pistachios that left me wanting more.
But there’s an early-morning game drive that awaits, so best you tuck yourself into bed. There are two game drives daily, and they offer you the opportunity to see the Big Five as well as the unblemished bush.
We managed to tick off only rhino and lions from the list, but the graceful giraffes, cheeky monkeys, herds of buck and zebra as well as adorable warthogs with poker-straight tails made up for it. Our tour guide for the weekend, Josphat Chinyanda, knows the area well and can give you a rundown of everything you want to know. His insight into the lions at the reserve was particularly interesting.
At the moment they are trying to breed a pack of lions by mixing genes from newly introduced lions from other reserves. He is also quick to explain why certain animals are scarce right now, and where you are likely to encounter what animals. Wildlife is bountiful here, and luckily all the lodges in the game reserve are connected via walkie-talkie so they will let your guide know if something interesting is happening in the vast landscape. Morning drives come with a coffee break with rusks and cookies that will give you the wake up you need while you rub your eyes wondering if all of this is a dream. Afternoon drives mean you can pre-order some drinks. We sipped cool Sauvignon Blanc as the sun escaped behind the mountains, leaving behind the pink and orange hues of the African sky before it turned dark blue, blessing us with the constellations.
Our Saturday evening game drive was followed by a traditional braai at the lodge’s boma featuring all the meat I could muster (of course vegans and vegetarians are catered for). Breakfasts are equally impressive, featuring the usual fare but adding springbok carpaccio (this is the veld, after all) that will help kick-start your day. Lunch is fuss-free and quite welcome. Out of nowhere, platters of fried delicacies like spring rolls and samoosas emerged with dipping sauces. There’s also no need to keep track of the time – the reception desk will phone you as soon as the kitchen is ready to serve meals. If you are wise you will take a few magazines or a book to take full advantage of the serenity of the bush (and the cosy hammock).
While Fifty Seven Waterberg is the perfect solitary escape, romance is also a good reason to visit. Ask for a honeymoon suite and expect to enter your room with rose petals leading the way to a bubble bath and a roaring fire to chase away the chill in the evening. Waking up on Sunday morning in an extreme state of relaxation, it’s hard to pack up and say goodbye, but alas the long road back to Joburg waits. If you desire an escape with service and luxury, Fifty Seven Waterberg is waiting for your call. Rates start at R3 875 per night. Go on, you deserve it.
Visit them here http://57waterberg.com/