Our first stay in South Africa, for 3 nights, after a long international flight, short internal one and quite a long (and beautiful) drive. Were a bit surprised at the 2km dirt track to get in (hadn't realised then how common they are), but had a lovely welcome and drink. Bags taken care of (as almost everywhere... something else to get used to) and a gentle introduction to the place with the young couple who manage the lodge (sadly, failed to remember their names).
The rooms (individual cottages) are large, well-equipped and 'African' (not overdone), with both an indoor and outdoor shower; didn't get to try the outdoor one as it was unseasonably cool. There's a good-sized terrace under the thatch at the front to sit out in the shade, if needed, or a very short walk to a huge rock overlooking the valley, where we saw a troupe of vervet monkeys and kudu at different times. A great place at night to watch the stars - no light pollution so a brilliant show. I believe all the cottages and overlooks are much the same, so no reason to go for a particular one.
Food is served in the main lodge, a short walk from the cottages, with it's own bar and large lounge area. Breakfast was a wide choice of cold things like cereals, juice, breads, etc., and pretty much anything most people would want cooked freshly to order. Dinner was a 'set' menu (could change if needed), which we thought excellent each time. Drinks and snacks before dinner were 'communal', so we met a number of other travellers, but dinner on your own tables... of course, you could continue conversations after dinner. No problem getting drinks at other times of day (I think they'll do lunch too, but we were never there).
It's well placed for drives along the Blyde River Canyon (Panorama Route), to Pilgrims Rest, Graskop, etc., whilst many of those we met were using it as a stopover on the way to/from Kruger. These places are a little way, but then most things are in that part of the world, but also provide amazing views around almost every corner.
The 'grounds' are huge, with a number of walking trails and the chance to see lots of different wildlife. For us, the weaver birds/nests near the lodge were a highlight and a 10cm millipede.
As someone else mentioned, the gift shop has interesting and useful things and is definitely not overpriced. The people there are full of information and advice on where to go.... ask about the baobab in a field just down the road: very old but not huge as it's out of its usual area (took us three goes to spot it, and then it's obvious).
We had a lovely time and the staff were great... thanks to them all.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Romantic retreat with spectacular scenery and unspoilt nature. A 4-star, luxurious, small and intimate country lodge, near the Blyde River Canyon. Ideal base for exploring the Panorama Route. En-route to the Kruger Park. Accommodation in spacious stone-built cottages with private patios and views. Swimming pool, walking trails and guided walks on this 540 ha private reserve. Some wildlife and excellent bird life. DB&B, traditional SA food, superb company & a peaceful environment. ... more less