IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF EXPLORERS AT TINTSWALO SAFARI LODGE
Following an incredible response to last year’s travel posts, The Sandton Times continues its journey of unearthing the best weekend getaways with JEEP Apparel South Africa, heading to the iconic Kruger National Park to see what Tintswalo Safari Lodge has to offer.
The Kruger National Park, one of Africa’s largest game reserves, offering Big 5 game safaris, commemorated 120-years of conservation in 2018 since the park’s predecessor, Sabi Game Reserve, was proclaimed in 1898.
As 2019 comes into its own and those December holidays become a distant memory, The Sandton Times in collaboration with JEEP Apparel South Africa looks to explore some of South Africa’s best weekend getaways. The JEEP Apparel South Africa store at the Mall of Africa is stocked with the latest outdoor styles and colours for the season, matched with comfort and hardiness that makes the JEEP range a pleasure for both men and women – and that generous cut comes in handy after a feast-filled festive season.
Leaving Sandton in the early hours of the morning, just in time to catch the Highveld sunrise, test-driving the sporty Alfa Romeo Stelvio, the Italian carmakers first 4×4 SUV, the drive to the Kruger National Park, through Belfast, Dullstroom and Lydenburg is a dream. With a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine, an 8-speed automatic transmission and Q4 all-wheel drive system complimented by three different driving modes (Dynamic, Normal and Advanced Efficency) it’s no wonder the 6-hour drive feels so much shorter.
The Alfa Connect infotainment system is intuitive and easy to use with USB and Bluetooth connectivity. The sizeable 525-litre luggage bay with an electronic tailgate was more than enough to fit luggage for two nights in the bush. The dual-zone climate control, one of many features, ensures both passenger and driver can keep their side of the car at just the right temperature, as the road-trip unfolds. What gives the Alfa Romeo Stelvio that premium feel are the Alfa Romeo emblem finishes, detailed tactfully all-over the vehicle along with some beautiful design touches.
SELF-DRIVE TIP: When using WAZE or Google Maps to Tintswalo Safari Lodge, type in the Kruger National Park Orpen Gate as your final destination to avoid getting lost. Although longer in distance, head towards Polokwane first and then type in your final destination from there – with well-maintained highways most of the way, this tends to be a quicker route.
Sharing an unfenced periphery with the well-known Kruger National Park, the unspoiled private Manyeleti Game Reserve boasts one of the lowest vehicle densities in the Greater Kruger.
Made up of half-a-dozen suites, a Presidential suite and the Manor House, Tintswalo Safari Lodge offers guests a serene environment to switch-off and enjoy an exceptional front-row seat with nature. Each of Tintswalo Safari Lodge’s suites have been designed to evoke the colonial adventures of the 19th century explorers, after which they are named. The new Grant suite takes its name from James Augustus Grant, a Scottish explorer of Africa who spent much of his time traversing the continent with the renowned John Hanning Speke, in search of the elusive source of the Nile – every explorer’s ‘holy grail’ quest. Grant was known for his commitment to Speke’s voyage, his loyalty, and his resilience during challenging times.
Each of the Tintswalo Safari Lodge suites come with a complimentary minibar, a bathroom with bath and shower opening up into nature, all whilst private and discreet. A private plunge pool offers an escape from the hot safari days, whilst the bespoke décor, unique to each room and the explorer they are named after, evokes a sense of African romance, harmonized with a fireplace for the somewhat cooler evenings.
Tintswalo Safari Lodge has a number of awards and recognitions to its name including the 2018 Agoda Gold Circle Award. Now in its 10th Year, the Agoda Gold Circle Awards recognizes elite service, high scoring peer-to-peer customer reviews from the 22 million reviews on Agoda, as well as excellence in pricing and availability. More so, Tintswalo Safari Lodge is the first winner to hit a perfect score of 10.0 in their first Gold Circle Award win. Tintswalo Safari Lodge also walked away with a 2018 World Luxury Hotel Award for best Luxury Safari Retreat on the continent.
Arriving after a gorgeous drive through some of South Africa’s remarkable scenery, it’s time to enjoy some lunch with a ‘make-your-own’ burger menu, made with fresh ingredients, locally sourced game meat and a decadent presentation. It’s an opportunity to meet the Chef and also take in the beautiful surroundings, with a massive dramatic tree as the centerpiece of the outdoor deck, and a popular hangout for an Elephant or two! Nothing like enjoying some truly delicious local flavours whilst watching nature’s theater unravel only meters away.
Backing the global ‘war on straws’, Tintswalo Safari Lodge has replaced all plastic straws on site with re-usable glass straws. Tintswalo Safari Lodge offers two game-drives a day with another nice touch, in-terms of environmental impact: reusable and customised water bottles prepared for each guest, ready and waiting on the game-drive vehicle, filled with either still or sparkling water.
The game viewing and game drive experience must rank with some of the best, as the duo of driver and tracker, use their combined experience and skills to locate some amazing African wildlife, including a pride of lions resting in the late afternoon breeze, preparing for a busy night ahead. With just meters between the kings and queens of the jungle and the game vehicle, the experience of being so close to one of Africa’s great predators is resplendent.
By its very intimate nature, the team at Tintswalo Safari Lodge is always at hand and ready to assist, whilst also allowing guests to take in some of the splendor of enjoying their surroundings in peace. The first days fantastical game-viewing is topped off by a Boma dinner, capably crafted by the Chef and her team, presented out in the open and under a starlit sky – a truly African treat with some very South African flavours!
The next day, it’s a good early morning start with a game-drive to try and catch the last of the nocturnal animals whilst enjoying the sunrise over the Kruger National Park with a bush-coffee and baked treats. With only two couples per game vehicle, it is a truly exclusive bush experience and soon it is time to head back for a scrumptious breakfast and some time to switch off and take-in the surroundings.
Tintswalo Safari Lodge offers three meals a day, including an afternoon tea for those a little peckish before dinner, but one of the highlights is a sun-downer drink and snacks next to one of the nearby dams, watching the red and orange African sky prepare for nightfall. By this time, guests are exchanging some of their game-viewing tales of the day over a glass of wine and game kebab, reminiscing over elephant herds, giraffe couples and some of Africa’s other prized wildlife.
For those passionate photographers, Tintswalo Safari Lodge offers a feast of indulgences at its Photography Lab, from renting high-end equipment and photography sandbags, to printing out some of those incredible shots from one of the game-drives on canvas, edited and ready to take home!
It’s a gorgeous weekend away, which leaves guests wanting to stay that little bit longer when its time to head back to the urban jungle. Tintswalo Safari Lodge is a safari experience with all modern comforts, integrating luxury timelessly into its wild surroundings.
For the month of March 2019, Tintswalo Safari Lodge is offering guests a 3-night stay but only pay for 2!