Just a two and a half hour journey out of Johannesburg, on a beautiful, one hundred and twenty square kilometer, big five game reserve, lies a new magical haven, Safari Plains. Before one even reaches the lodge, you’ll already have fallen in love with the postcard perfect images of vast open savanna plains and the Waterberg Mountains in the backdrop.
We arrive at the thatched entrance of Safari Plains, and are immediately welcomed by many friendly warm faces, who have been in wait of our anticipated arrival, offering welcome cocktails and refreshing face towels after the journey.
Our luggage is offloaded and a valet parks our car, as we enter in to the luxury and delight that is Safari Plains. The reception area boasts a small curio shop which I immediately take a fancy too (I’ll be back later to browse), and we are shown to the main seating area, my eyes can’t help but catch a glimpse of all the impressive detailing along the way; a large water feature on the right hand side with soothing sounds of water flowing, and to the left, a spa, a superb place to unwind.
A delicious assortment of light bites is already laid out for us; chicken strips, wraps, tempura prawns, mini quiches, tea sandwiches, chocolate brownies, all things delicious to indulge in.
I sit on a comfortable sofa, and enjoy a hand massage from one of the lovely spa therapists, as I marvel at a gorgeous picture of a majestic leopard above the bar, and the brown and burnt orange swirls of colour above it. The bar area is most impressive, a work of art in itself, all of the hues matching so perfectly together to create an unforgettable ambience, the chandeliers and warm lighting, the earthy tones of greys and browns across the main seating area, the Persian rugs and antique trays, and coffee table books all adding to it. I feel nostalgic for a bygone era.
The outside area boasts an inviting, well-sized crystal clear swimming pool, with loungers and tables, chairs and umbrellas- The perfect spot to spend these warm, sunny summery afternoons, while sipping away on a delicious cocktail that one of the talented bartenders have created for you.
After lunch we are shown to our tent. One of the highlights of Safari Plains is that the tents are spaced well apart in bushveld bliss. Along our walk, I can hear the bush choir begin… we arrived just after the rains, and with the sun shining, the wildlife; frogs and birds in the lead, began to sing their songs of praise and thanks.
The watering hole in front of the lodge draws many animals for a visit, and I see some sable antelope wandering down for a drink. This excites me tremendously, as sable is usually a rare sight.
The tents are simply stunning. The first appeal to me is the swing on the wooden deck, where I intend to spend large amounts of time reading. The tents are elegantly, and tastefully decorated and are the epitome of comfort. With crisp white linen, and romantic draped mosquito nets, air conditioning, a mini bar and tea and coffee making facilities- we couldn’t ask for more.
Until we see the bath; A large sunken bath with views of the natural bushveld. I am sold. The toilet and shower each in it’s on separate room, and a his and hers wash basin all make for extra luxury and comfort. I particularly like the bathrobes, and toiletry amenities, a lovely finishing touch.
The family style and luxury tents main area is a little bigger then the safari style tents, and offers a second bedroom with two twin beds, and a private sala to enjoy a lazy afternoon of sweet serenity.
One of the draws to Safari Plains is that it’s a great safari destination to visit when one wants to just unwind and enjoy nature and wildlife, but it also offers plenty of activities for the more adventurous, including hot air ballooning, horse back riding, quad biking and guided safari walks.
It caters to all, from groups of friends, to honeymoon couples looking for adventure and romance, to families looking for a child friendly safari, where there are plenty of kiddies activities, early dinner times and kiddies safaris. It’s also an ideal venue for a romantic bush wedding, or the place to host your next meeting.
We head back to the main area for high tea, where there is delicious sweet and savoury selection of treats on display. I am still full from lunch, but can’t resist and indulge on a chocolate cigar filled with delectable custard.
Others in our party, who couldn’t brave a hot cup of tea or coffee on a summer’s afternoon, were treated to a refreshing iced coffee. No task being too big for the staff, which was willing to go above and beyond for our every need.
And then we were off on our game drive safari. The thing I have come to find about game reserves is that they are all-unique, and have their own personality traits and characteristics. This one is particularly special, and incredibly beautiful, with it’s winding roads, greenery after the rains, vast open savanna plains, and impressive mountain range in the backdrop. There is a sort of magic to it, the kind of magic that inspires and rejuvenates. A therapy for the soul, and I just know that when I leave, I will be leaving a piece of my heart behind.
Our guide is incredibly knowledgeable and bush wise, as he tells us stories about the different plant and animal species as if they are his old friends. The reserve boasts the big five, as well as many other fascinating wildlife; including cheetah, honey badger, jackal, and a variety of antelope; Hartebeest, Eland, Gemsbok and Blesbok to name a few. We see some marvelous sightings of brown hyena (a first for me), rhino, giraffes, warthog, kudu, wildebeest and ostrich among others.
The sun begins to go down, and the cool evening breeze begins to blow, as we arrive at a private lookout deck, where two of the Safari Plains staff is waiting for us for sundowners.
A Table is set up with beverages, and an array of snacks; nuts, biltong & Droerwors (South African delicacies). As we make our way up the stairs, and are welcomed, I see the most breathtaking view … that will be forever etched in my memory.
The sun is peeking through the clouds, shining down with golden light, while the clouds dance around it adorning the sky. The mountains on the horizon, almost a shade of dark blue, and to the other side, a thunderstorm brewing on the horizon, the sun beams over it in rays of red. The bush is alive with sounds, I can hear a red- crested Korhaan in the distance, and my senses are alive. The pungent smell of the African bush, everything smells so clean after the rain. I am at peace with the world, out here there is nothing but the silence, some small chatter of newly made friends, and the cling of glasses as the charming bartender pours another gin and tonic, we watch the last rays of sun disappear behind the horizon before we depart this special place.
On our way back we track lion, but as they have gone off road, we continue back to the lodge. (Luckily for us, we catch them on morning drive the next day), a gorgeous male showing off his magnificent mane and 2 females by his side.
Upon arrival back at the lodge we are greeted by what has become friendly, familiar faces that we have grown so fond of, and are ushered in to the beautiful dining room for dinner. The high beamed ceilings, dramatic chandeliers, and candelabras create an atmosphere of romance. A spectacular fine dining experience by candlelight, as our palates are whisked away on a gastronomical journey with a mouth-watering five-course meal. The service is impeccable, and the staff never leaves us wanting for anything.
After a nightcap, we are escorted to our tent, where we are made to feel like absolute royalty. A hot bath has been run with flower petals, and candles, and our pillows are adorned with chocolates and an African bedtime story – “No Fish for the Hippo”- That night I fall asleep to the sounds of the African bush, and I dream of Africa.
I wake to a crisp, clear morning feeling well rested, and I brew a cup of delicious coffee in the French press, and sit out on the deck of my tent enjoying the start of a fabulous new day. The bush is teeming with different species of birdlife. I have awoken in paradise.
We head up to the main area, where we sit outside on the pool deck, sipping on some more freshly brewed coffee. Coffee for me is of great importance, and the coffee at Safari Plains is particularly delicious and enjoyable.
For breakfast, the chef and his team have truly outdone themselves again with a fantastic spread of pastries, cold meats and cheeses, yoghurts and cereals and a hot English breakfast option, which can be ordered of eggs, bacon, sausage, tomato and mushrooms to name a few; All the good stuff.
We truly spent a glorious 2 days at Safari Plains, my only complaint being perhaps that we didn’t have more time, but that was on me. Although I felt my heart to be a bit heavy to depart, I left feeling rested, rejuvenated and incredibly happy for all the magic moments I’d had, and memories I got to take with me when I left. Safari Plains is the perfect spot to unwind and really connect with nature, away from the hustle and bustle of the real world. I can safely say that I won’t wait too long until I return again.