&Beyond Phinda Homestead fire pit and sunken lounge.
&Beyond Phinda Homestead fire pit and sunken lounge.
Image: Supplied

1. LION SANDS RIVER LODGE

An hour’s flight from Joburg, Lion Sands in Mpumalanga was recently revamped after a fire. It’s stylish, sophisticated, and all about the details.

What will inspire you? The lodge blends in with the landscape. Each area of the new lodge gives you a reason to take a second look — everything is rich with texture and colour.

What will surprise you? The open spaces, clean lines, and the art gallery showcasing local artists and sculptors.

Lion Sands River Lodge.
Lion Sands River Lodge.
Image: Supplied

What will excite you? The abundance of wildlife that passes through the lodge — elephant, leopard, bushbuck, nyala, kudu, hippo, buffalo, and rhino.

What will relax you? The new spa, designed in the shape of a butterfly, which will open in November.

What will you Instagram? A leopard 3m from your open safari vehicle.

What can you experience only there? The new creative lab, which allows you to work on your photographs, and print them on a large canvas, with the guidance of a professional photographer.

What will you eat? Organic, fresh, healthy, and authentic cuisine, served under a sky of the brightest stars.

Where will you sleep? With views over the Sabie River as it glistens and snakes its way through the landscape under the light of the full moon.

What will you see on a game drive? Everything! 

2. MORUKURU BEACH LODGE

Embedded in white sand dunes overlooking the ocean, Morukuru is three hours from Cape Town in the pristine De Hoop Nature Reserve.

What will inspire you? This five-star lodge is completely eco-friendly and fully off the grid — even the underfloor heating is water-based.

What will excite you? Southern Right Whales. July to September is best for whale-watching. An abundance of whales and their calves can be seen directly in front of the lodge.

What will relax you? All suites have an oversized bay window with a daybed — the perfect place to lounge while watching the sea.

What will you boast about? Sandboarding in the dunes.

What can you experience only there? A beach and bush experience — spend the day going on a marine walk with a picnic lunch and the evening on a game drive in the nature reserve. 

Morukuru Ocean House sundowners with sandboard.
Morukuru Ocean House sundowners with sandboard.
Image: Supplied

3. THORNYBUSH RIVER LODGE

This elite but super-relaxed small lodge near the Kruger National Park will make you feel as if you’ve popped to your own place in the wild.

What will inspire you? A swim alongside elephants, who’ve come to drink from the camp’s infinity pool.

Thornybush River Lodge.
Thornybush River Lodge.
Image: Supplied

What will excite you? The thrill of walking from the main lodge to your suite, knowing you may bump into a meandering antelope.

What will relax you? A classic Victorian bath, which also turns out to be the perfect spot for lazy game viewing.

Thornybush River Lodge bathroom.
Thornybush River Lodge bathroom.
Image: Supplied

What will you Instagram? Layered interiors, loads of animals, and the bobotie you had for lunch.

What can you experience only there? The totally private house — which has two bedrooms, its own lounge, kitchen, decks, and pool. Don’t see anyone else, if that’s your inclination.

Where will you sleep? In your mozzie-netted four-poster bed. Or in a cane chair in your private lounge after lunch.

Thornybush River Lodge bedroom suite.
Thornybush River Lodge bedroom suite.
Image: Supplied

What will you see on a game drive? Mama ellies with their boisterous babies, leopard snacking on buck canapés, beloved rhino — and hyena, who will come to say hi during your boma dinner. 

4. &BEYOND PHINDA HOMESTEAD

This exclusive private safari villa in KwaZulu-Natal is a completely personalised hideaway for the travel connoisseur.

What will inspire you? The homestead takes its inspiration from local Zulu culture. Expect interiors dotted with traditional Nguni hides, intricate basketwork, and colourful crafts, all sourced directly from the local communities.

&Beyond Phinda Homestead.
&Beyond Phinda Homestead.
Image: Supplied

What will excite you? The pan in front of the lodge is an open invitation for bush-creature visits. See them from the comfort of the deck — while you nurse a Pimm’s, of course.

What will you Instagram? One of the reserve’s many conservation experiences — take a selfie with a sleeping rhino or elephant.

What will you boast about? Open 4×4 safaris with a dedicated ranger and tracker who follow sensitive off-roading practices and allow up-close-and-personal sightings of the Big Five.

What will you experience only there? Designing your own dinner party. Your private chef will whip up your favourites or, if you’re feeling creative, jump in and learn some traditional African recipes.

Where will you sleep? In one of four private air-conditioned rooms that all face a beautiful waterhole. Sloth, snooze, take an al fresco shower.

&Beyond Phinda Homestead bedroom suite.
&Beyond Phinda Homestead bedroom suite.
Image: Supplied

What will you see on a game drive? Big Five and other wildlife, including some of the best cheetah sightings in the world, plus nyala, as well as a potential 436 species of birds. 

- From the November edition of Wanted.

© Wanted 2016 - If you would like to reproduce this article please email us.
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