Mabula game lodge
Just a short two-and-a-half hour drive from Jozi is the magnificent Mabula Game Lodge situated in the Waterberg region of Limpopo Province. It’s the perfect weekend getaway for Gautengers who need a break from the never-ending bustle of city life … rejuvenating, tranquil and adventurous. Shortly after arriving at the lodge we were shown to our rooms … spacious, tastefully-decorated little hideaways with hugely comfy beds and a bath fit for a queen … yes, please! In fact, the rooms were so comfortable it made leaving on game drives and excursions a little challenging (not that we’re complaining).
After taking a few moments to unwind and put on extra layers of clothing for our late afternoon game drive, we were off and into the bush. Ah, that sweet smell of the African bush that lingers in the air … what an absolute pleasure! Our extremely knowledgeable game rangers made the afternoon game drive just that much more pleasurable, stopping along the way to share their knowledge and bush stories with us … some hilarious and some terrifying … but that all added to the thrill of the experience. It wasn’t too long into the drive until we spotted a herd of ellies (the first of the Big 5 ticked off … YAY!) and turned off the engines to watch these majestic creatures roam around and graze.
After soaking in the silence, the sweet smells that filled the air, marvelling over the bright pink sky and setting sun and the gentle giants in front of us, it was time for dinner …. a magical meal in the wild. It was set up in the middle of the bush, surrounded by bonfires, lanterns and a gin bar stocked with only the best local and international gins, tonics and a range of gorgeous garnishes … really special. After dinner, we headed back to our rooms where a candle-lit bath, a bottle of Amarula and chocolates were waiting … surely life doesn’t get much better? Not only was the bath divine, we also slept like babies … it’s super-silent and dark out there … just the way we like it. The next morning we were up at 5am for a day jam-packed with fabulous activities (even the kids would love some of these).
On the game drives we were lucky enough to spot crocs and hippos lazing in and around the waterholes, large numbers of buck, giraffe, wildebeest and zebra, a lazy pride of lion having a nap in the sun, and the cherry on the top was definitely the rhino. Whenever we spotted these prehistoric-looking creatures we couldn’t help feeling grateful, knowing that, sadly, they’re a prime target for poachers so there aren’t many left in the wild these days. Just like that, we’d ticked off three of the Big 5. After the morning’s game drive we were back at the lodge and off to the day spa for a relaxing massage … swoon. We opted for the bamboo massage where the therapists use heated bamboo sticks to roll out any knots that seem to build up so quickly when you spend hours crouched in front of a computer.
Next up, a choice between a horseback or quad bike safari (great for children as well) followed by a visit to the Ground Hornbill Conservation Project in which Mabula plays an integral part (this one’s for keen conservationists). After all our adventures in the wild, we gathered for sundowners on the deck with views that stretched across the plains and valleys, the golden hues of the grasses set against the fiery sky, and a glass of wine in hand – all we needed to feel alive again. After sundowners, we were escorted back to our camp for a delicious dinner at the boma. The meal was served beneath a massive, fairy light-festooned tree alongside a glowing bonfire.
Not only was the endless array of food at the buffet seriously good, but the conversation and entertainment (Tswana dancers) were just as fabulous. After some stargazing (the stars out there are truly spectacular), it was time for bed. The next morning was crisp and clear and we had one thing left to do (well two) … a hot air balloon ride and we needed to spot the last two of the Big 5. The hot air balloon ride was breath-taking and tranquil with views as far as the eye could see (seriously a must-do). After the ride, we were back in the vehicles and on a mission to see the last two of the Big 5 … and just as luck would have it, driving back to camp, we spotted a herd of buffalo (oh, the excitement!). The leopard, unfortunately, remained elusive (as they usually do). And just like that, it was time to pack up and head home … with our hearts a little fuller, our minds a little more rested and our spirits rejuvenated. Bliss!