Travel South Africa
4. Karongwe River Lodge, Greater Kruger Area
Being close to the Kruger National Park, Karongwe Private Game Reserve is in Big Five Territory and obligingly has all five, plus all the other richness that bushveld has to offer. It is a large tract of land (9000 hectares) through which the Makhutsi River runs. On its bank this spacious, classic wooden lodge is set, which means it’s ideal for game viewing. Karongwe also prides itself on its gourmet offering.
5. Val Du Charron, Wellington
This is a wonderful little country hotel, stylish but at affordable prices with a homely feel – the warm staff and resident Great Danes and a Jack Russell make it that way. One of the best things about it is its location. From here you can mountain bike, run and cycle in gorgeous surroundings, go horse riding on the neighbouring farm or take a cellar tour with VDC’s own wine maker. It’s the perfect winter destination too – you could simply stay indoors and stare at that gorgeous view, eat the good food and drink the excellent wines. The bedroom decor is classic white and kept simple: wood, great linens and coir carpets – simple, and with great quality.
6. Akasha Mountain Retreat, Heidelberg
Akasha Mountain Retreat has one of the most bucolic settings in the Western Cape: snuggled into the side of a valley, looking down at the wending Duiwenhoks Dam, with panoramic views of the Langeberg mountains. The glorious setting is optimised through every room in the house, which has been furnished in Moroccan-style by the owners (they imported every¬thing themselves from Morocco). Rough-hewn painted doors and embellished lanterns hanging on delicate chains are some of the aesthetic details; ample two- prong plugs and Bluetooth music speakers are some of the practical ones. Boosmansbos Wilderness Area, with its rare indigenous forest, spans the mountain across the river, and the (almost) 200 bird species found there also frequent the fynbos around Akasha. You can spot sun- and mousebirds while foraging from the hammock strung up under a mulberry tree (the berries are best when freshly fallen: they’ll be the glossiest too). The main house has three bedrooms (plus one kids’ bunk), and there’s a separate fourth room about 20 metres away that sleeps two (they’re rented as a unit). Best to take this if privacy is a concern.