Travel buddies – one house, four couples, lots of fun. The recipe for a memorable breakaway. By Magriet Kruger.
1. Lakeview Tented Camp, Camdeboo National Park
The Valley of Desolation is one of South Africa’s most imposing landscapes, a sight worth viewing with friends. After the grandeur of time spent in the cathedral of the mountains, connect with the land more closely on one of several hiking trails or 4×4 routes. At Lakeview Tented Camp you’ll have a soundtrack of game drinking at the dam and birds singing in the sweet thorn trees. Each tent sleeps two people and has its own deck where you can unwind; showers and toilets are in a shared facility. The four safari tents are conveniently positioned for privacy while the communal braai area and kitchen are suited to friends travelling together. You can spend all evening around the large fire pit, swapping stories from the old days.
Bookings: www.sanparks.org.za or +27 (0)12 428 9111
2. Reilly’s Rock, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary
If you like to combine your game viewing with creature comforts, then this stately lodge in Swaziland is just the ticket. The rate includes a three-course dinner that is served outside in fine weather or in the elegant dining room when it’s cool. The house has four en-suite bedrooms, as well as a welcoming lounge with fireplace and fine natural history library. Guests can enjoy mountain biking or self-guided walking trails; a sunset drive to the Rock of Execution is recommended.
Bookings: www.biggameparks.org or +268 2528 3943/4
3. Tierkloof Eco Lodge, Gamkaberg Nature Reserve
Stay over at this self-catering lodge and you may well think you’re the only people in the Gamkaberg. Your down time is not likely to be interrupted by the rumble of cars or the sight of other visitors, instead you will get to see klipspringers and, if you’re very lucky, leopard (known to the early inhabitants as ‘tiere’). Tierkloof offers a sense of exclusivity that usually costs far more. It sleeps eight people in four tents, which are situated next to each other. A winding path leads to a separate kitchen and ablution facility. A highlight in this hot part of the world is the private dam. Gamkaberg’s eco lodges (Tierkloof is one of three) were recently included in Africa’s Finest, a guide to the continent’s top environmentally friendly facilities.
Bookings: www.capenature.co.za or +27 (0)21 483 0190
4. Vhembe Wilderness Camp, Mapungubwe National Park
This remote camp is ideal for bush lovers who really want to get away from it all. Situated on a small ridge within a valley, Vhembe has four rustic cabins organised around a central lapa and fully-equipped, communal kitchen. The thatched cabins have two single beds each with en-suite bathroom and a small deck looking out onto the bush. There’s solar power but no plug points, so make sure your camera is fully charged. The appeal of gathering in a group at Vhembe is that you can set your own itinerary with a private guide. Choose from morning walks to rock art sites, a chance to see dinosaur footprints, birding tours or night drives. Bear in mind that activities are charged separately.
Reservations: www.sanparks.org or +27 (0)12 428 9111