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The beauty of being in the bush lies in the extent to which you can soak in the setting and feel removed from all things urban. Here, Pel’s Post, the newest exclusive-use lodge in the northern Kruger, has fulfilled the brief emphatically. Perched above the wide, winding Levubu River (or Luvuvhu in Venda) with 180-degree views of the landscape, it’s the perfect vantage point to watch from, when you’re not in the thick of it.
The lodge design is entirely sustainable (from the construction which made almost no impact, to the day-to-day running, which includes only solar power) but immensely stylish – innovative use of space and open-plan, stilted suites mean you get to feel the expanse of Africa even when in your room.
There are four of these stilted structures – each sleeps two, but there are extra daybeds in each that can double as extras for children to sleep in the same room as their parents, if necessary. In the suites, mechanised blinds in place of walls retract completely creating what is essentially an open-air pavilion, and immersing you in the sounds and smells of the bush. The chic and contemporary spaces – both the suites and the main living areas – have subtle references to ethnic motifs and an African palette but the overall effect is free from clichés. Furniture and objects are predominantly local, another nod to keeping the carbon footprint light and supporting homegrown talent.
The private villa comes with its own dedicated guide, chef and housekeeping, which gives you the benefit of an in-lodge experience, but with the privacy and flexibility you’d have in your own home, a huge bonus if you want to tailor game drives around your own times, and just have space all to yourself – because it is somewhere you’ll want to spend sufficient downtime, as both the suites and the outdoor spaces invite relaxation in the most elemental way. Outside a multi-level outdoor space made up of a wide dining deck, sunken fire pit, and pool surrounded by outward-looking loungers give you plenty of options to the scenery.
The focus on game drives here extends further than just the wildlife – guides are really well informed and passionate about the history of the land, its rich habitats and birdlife (which is plentiful), and take a more organic approach to sightings. You won’t be racing around trying to see everything, but rather appreciating the setting as a whole – so it’s best suited to real bush connoisseurs rather than a Big Five box-checker. One of the highlights is the famous Pafuri fever tree forest – it’s a bit of a drive but well worth making it one of your requests to your guide. If you have time, they’ll also set up a picnic here, totally magic. Also worth putting on the list is Lanner Gorge (voted the Kruger National Park’s most beautiful spot a few years ago).
This leisurely approach is one of the core reasons it’s so perfect for groups who are there to spend time enjoying each other’s company and the stunning accommodation in leisurely fashion, as well as the spectacular scenery.
As far as the location goes, the lodge is situated in the Makuleke Concession in the Northern Kruger, also known as the Pafuri Triangle. South Africa’s first successful land claim, the land was given over to the Kruger National Park to manage and boasts some of the country’s most varied, rich and picturesque terrain in a relatively small area. It’s quite a long drive – but fairly easy to find. There’s no signal in the more rural sections though (and there are lots of donkeys, cattle and potholes, so be vigilant, and the last fuel stop is a village called Tshipise (which is still about 120km from Pel’s), so make sure you fill up there with enough to get you to Pel’s and then back to Tshipise on your return.
Review Julia Freemantle