We're working on a journey at the moment for clients who don't have a lot of time to travel through South Africa (in fact they have only 10 days) but want to mix game viewing with natural splendour and a rural retreat.
We suggested starting at Madikwe Game Reserve (more on that in a later post) and then driving across the northern side of Johannesburg to the Blyde River Canyon area in Mpumalanga.
This route takes visitors through the Waterberg region, most famous for its wide open savannahs and sense of total isolation, but also dramatic rock formations and, relative to neighbouring regions, a decent amount of rainfall, which results in beautiful mountain streams and rolling bushveld.
We particularly like Phumelelo Lodge in this area: it is on a 12 000ha private reserve, shared with only three other lodges, and happens to be in the heart of the Waterberg. The focus of this place is more as a wilderness retreat, so it’s about the landscapes, the vistas and the solitude, not so much the wildlife. They do offer game drives for R250 per person for a two-hour drive though if you’re interested. There is also a fair amount to do in the area isuch as the spa at Zebula (which is a corporate golf hotel but the spa is excellent), the hot springs at Bela Bela and the magical walking in the Bataleur Nature Reserve (which is exceptionally good value for money and allows one access to some of the most untouched areas of the region.
Rates at Phumelelo are from R4 500 per room per night including dinner, lunch and breakfast. This is for a fully detached, 45sqm private suite with indoor and outdoor bathrooms and a private wrap around deck.
It's 2 hours by car from Joburg and 3 hours from Madikwe.