From a boutique tented camp in Rwanda, to a refurbished family getaway in the Western Cape, these are the latest bush lodges, accommodation and upgraded hotels opening their doors in October 2018
Tintswalo at Lapalala Wilderness, Waterberg, Limpopo
Jauntily perched on a verge to maximise its vantage point above unforgettable chunks of river frontage, this eco-conscious camp easily accommodates 12 adults and four kids. Expect an upmarket, family-friendly experience that doesn’t scrimp on the wow factor. And because the new Tintswalo at Lapalala Wilderness is one of only two lodges in the sprawling tracts of pristine Waterberg bushveld, you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve stumbled onto your own private paradise. And don’t for a minute think being entirely off the grid means a dent in the service or offering. Here it’s all about life’s little indulgences – think crisp cotton sheets, hurricane lamps and that chilled glass of must-have bubbly to celebrate a spectacular lion sighting.
Added bonus: Lapalala Wilderness Reserve is known for its research and breeding programmes of rare and endangered species, as well as the environmental education programme it delivers to South African schools.
Sanbona Dwyka Tented Lodge & Gondwana Family Lodge, Western Cape
Home to the only free-roaming white lions in the world, Sanbona Wildlife Reserve doesn’t rest on its laurels when it comes to offering a superlative safari experience. Slap-bang in the Little Karoo, this private reserve is all about quality service, and with its recent, well-considered facelift, Dwyka Tented Lodge now takes the idea of pioneering wilderness adventure to new heights. Your tent – in muted tones of caramel and ivory – has been totally kitted out with new beds, side tables, cushions, linen, gowns and towels, while the ample communal areas now boast new flooring, sink-into-and-can’t-get-out-of couches, updated dining furniture and a brand-new bar.
The spacious thatched Gondwana Family Lodge just up the drag has also enjoyed a bit of a cosmetic overhaul. The result? Plush new beds, newly refurbished wardrobes, uber comfy sleeper couches and bold splashes of amber, sage and charcoal throughout the interiors. But although the look is fresh, uncluttered and stylish, you’ll be forgiven for overlooking these décor elements in the excitement of spotting the Big Five just three hours out of Cape Town.
Added bonus: Gondwana makes a special effort for youngsters with their ‘Kids on Safari’ programme.
Magashi Camp, Akagera National Park, Rwanda
It’s Rwanda’s next big thing – a boutique tented camp that offers an alternative view of gorilla country. Due to open in December 2018, Magashi Camp on the shores of Lake Rwanyakazinga affords an intimate peek at savannah wildlife, an entirely different experience to the tourist-trodden gorilla sighting paths in the Volcanoes National Park. Visiting twitchers will be on tenterhooks with potential sightings of the elusive shoebill stork and the endangered papyrus Ganolex, while those who prefer a more laid-back approach to safaris can while away an afternoon in one of the six tastefully appointed tented suites that open into the surrounds. Just banish any notion of run-of-the-mill canvas chairs and vintage trunks. In their place are modern low-slung directors’ chairs, sparkling chartreuse chandeliers and dramatic geometric prints. Magashi’s main area comprises a luxurious lounge, dining and bar area, wine cellar and pool, as well as an expansive viewing deck with convivial fire pit. Both the architecture and interiors celebrate traditional Rwandan culture.
Added bonus: Take an eight-seater swamp cruiser to get up close and personal with water birds and other aquatic animals of Lake Rwanyakazinga.
&Beyond Bateleur Camp, Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
What the annual Wildebeest migration – one of the most astonishing animal shows on earth – offers in once-in-a-lifetime game experiences, the ultimate luxury of &Beyond Bateleur Camp in the Masai Mara National Reserve offers in hospitality. If you’re taken with the idea of languishing on a sunken daybed with a vista of African grasslands unfurling before you, this flagship camp is a must-do destination. And who isn’t a sucker for a refurb? After 20 years, this iconic spot has been given a top-to-toe make-over, without losing any of its trademark romance. Old world maps and elegant dark brass fittings that contrast with white marble surfaces now add extra layers to the vintage silver, soft worn leather couches, antique trunks and crystal decanters of the Bateleur’s previous incarnation – a seamless design language that can’t fail to charm. In addition, the lighter colour palette lends a contemporary edge to the spacious tents that epitomises bush elegance.
Added bonus: Apart from two new swimming pools, the new safari shop offers next-level bush retail with some of the region’s best-known designer and luxury items.
By Biddi Rorke