This boutique lodge may only be a few hours’ drive from Johannesburg, but guests who want to arrive in style can fly here by helicopter, catching glimpses of wild animals grazing on the vast plains, before landing on the reserve’s very own air strip.
Luxury, seclusion and spectacular wildlife are assured and a royal welcome is always guaranteed. French owners Sophie and Ludovic greet guests with a glass of Moët & Chandon Champagne, while staff celebrate new arrivals with traditional African songs.
Set in the Nambiti Private Game Reserve on a cliff top, offering spectacular views over the Sunday River, the fusion of African and French culture can be seen in many aspects of the lodge, particularly the food. Meals are served either in the lodge, bush, ‘boma’ (enclosure) or intimate fire-pit area. The wine list is extensive and includes many award-winning South African vintages.
The main lodge deck, 100 metres above the Sunday River, offers incredible vistas and the chance to spot elephants bathing, lions chasing impala and birds of prey gliding and circling effortlessly above. The reserve is home to the Big Five, and the chance of seeing them all — as well as cheetah — is excellent, with experienced rangers on hand to assist. Only two game vehicles operate at the same time, so that guests enjoy an intimate experience, far from the crowds of other safari parks.
The lodge’s interiors combine African tradition with an elegant, contemporary style. Each of the five spacious, thatched-roof suites boasts mod cons, including underfloor heating, plus an exterior bath or shower for a relaxing soak under the great African skies.
The suites also have fully retractable doors that open onto secluded decks, with sweeping views — right from the comfort of your bed. Massages in the cool shade can also be enjoyed here, while the dazzling infinity pool on the main deck is the perfect place to cool off after a day out in the African sun.
For guests who want to combine their stay with a little history and culture, the lodge is close to the famous Anglo-Boer and Anglo-Zulu battlefields, and the guides enjoy telling the legends and tales of the area. Esiweni is also just one hour from the Drakensberg mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a great place to walk, horse-ride, raft or partake in a round of golf.
Need to know
· Big Five game reserve
· 5 suites
· Fine dining
· Game drives and bush walks
· Swimming pool
· Free wi-fi
· Laundry service