It’s first light, so we head onto the deck – coffee in hand – to watch a striking bush sunrise. It’s magnificent. More so, with a cheetah and her three cubs standing in the foreground looking right back at us. When she saw us, she stopped in her tracks, as did we. And for a few special moments we simply gazed at each other, as the world seemed to pause. Then she continued walking, and we sipped our coffee in silence.
Welgevonden Game Reserve is just 3 hours from Joburg, yet we’re deep in the bush at Fifty Seven Waterberg. The luxury lodge, named for its site number, is renowned for its excellent cheetah and rhino sightings, but there’s also the full Big Five to see here on daily game drives. As we discovered, though, you can see plenty of wildlife without even leaving your room.
With one game drive a day included, there is time to enjoy the luxury suites that so magnificently showcase the surrounding environment. There are two styles of suite to choose from, both luxurious and beautifully appointed. The modular contemporary suites have three glass walls and fold-away doors to give a sense of continuity with the surrounding environment. Loose rocks are packed on the roof, which make the suites completely disappear into the surrounding environment. The traditional thatched suites also open up wide to nature and offer the feeling of being on an African safari. A slow-burning gas fireplace in the bedroom and Africa-inspired décor create a cosy, cocooning atmosphere in suite.
Fifty Seven Waterberg is all about the good life too. Spa treatments are given in the privacy of your suite and contemporary suites each have their own plunge pool – which makes for a cool and unusual game viewing spot. The lodge’s focus, however, apart from being one of the best places to see black and white rhino as well as cheetah, is food. Every night is a different style of cuisine that ranges from home-cooked meals to three-course fine dining, a five-course fire-cooked tasting menu and various other options. It’s like dining in a different restaurant every night, and often in a different setting too. But before dinner, chilling on the sunken deck and watching the last rays of sunshine caress the bushveld is the ultimate way to end the day in Welgevonden – sundowner in hand.
What we love
- elephant drinking from the pool at the honeymoon suite
- such diverse cuisine served in different dining venues
- excellent bush breakfasts surrounded by 35 000 hectares of reserve
- stargazing on clear nights, with a guide providing explanations
- the cosy wine cellar for private dinners
Need to know
- it’s a 3-hour drive from Joburg through Vaalwater, or a 45-minute flight and a 20-minute transfer to the lodge
- access is through the West Gate of Welgevonden
- children over 6 years are welcomed
- one game drive a day is included
- the lodge is in a malaria free area
- sleeps 14 currently