If you’ve been fuelling your wanderlust with plans for post-isolation travel while you’ve been stuck at home this year, there’s never been a better reason to make your next adventure a safari at Mabula Game Lodge. Distinctly African in style, the accommodation is colourful, contemporary and nature-noisy, the food and drink is way beyond typical safari-carnivorism and the staff are seemingly effortless, but passionate and utterly brilliant.
For those who love wild places, there’s nothing comparable to seeing elephants wandering through camp, lions napping in the dust of a dry riverbed at midday or hyenas sniffing at the tyres of your safari vehicle, unbothered by your camera clicking furiously. Recently refurbished and now one of South Africa’s most eclectic game hotels, Mabula Game Lodge has struck the right chord between design hotel and safari ground zero. But for all its smart details, Mabula Game Lodge is still a classic safari camp.
Located just two-and-a-half hours’ drive from Joburg in the Waterberg region of Limpopo against the backdrop of the lush green Waterberg Mountains, the lodge boasts seriously Instagrammable rooms and even better views outside. The overhaul of the interiors is a delight: The suite feels more like a chic, serviced house than a standard hotel that comes complete with air-conditioning, a flat-screen TV as well as tea and coffee-making facilities. With a mix of antique and new furnishings, the interiors are not your usual fare – instead, thatch roof accommodation contrasts against luxury finishings, with soft neutral bushveld colours throughout and massive windows bringing the African wildlife indoors. It’s innovative and dramatic. The space allows for plenty of privacy for its guests, but a communal pool and outdoor seating areas provides time for guests to mingle – and maybe spot a warthog.
Offering day and night game safaris, tours leave the lodge twice daily (early morning and just before dusk) and head to Mabula Private Game Reserve, which allows for all types of African animal watching. The tours have a high success rate – and trust us when we say that you’ll leave completely satisfied! Training your eye to distinguish a hippo track from an elephant footprint or to spot a leopard tail hanging from a distant tree is a transformative experience that gives you a connection with the natural world. In the saffron-tinted dawn light across the savannah, you’ll see a sleekly powerful lioness yawning extravagantly before picking up one of her cubs. An hour later, you’re drinking hot chocolate spiked with Amarula liqueur as a herd of elephants amble past on the other side of the watering hole. It’s romantic and adventurous all at the same time, allowing guests to indulge whilst exploring.
Back at your suite, soak up the daytime safari noises and incessant chatter of happy birds while you enjoy a bubble bath. Add a glass of bubbly and you’ve got yourself a holiday! Sundowners of G&Ts, nuts and biltong cap off the day on the evening safari, but don’t fill up on snacks as the lodge has fantastic dining facilities. Each evening meal is an unforgettable experience – one night you can find yourself dining by candlelight and dancing beneath the stars at a wilderness-themed bush dinner the next. The food is superb and the whole vibe is classic ‘Old Africa’ – think chicken kebabs, lamb pie, warthog potjie, impala casserole or the best malva pudding with a wonderful South African shiraz. The serenity is broken only by the bittersweet realisation that this might be about as good as life gets.
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