Few things are as sweet as the sound of waking up in the bush – the muffled crackling of a hyena rustling in the bushes nearby, the peep-peep of a the Lilac-breasted Roller perched on a tree branch outside, and the joyful trumpet of an elephant in the distance, there’s nothing quite like the symphony of the bush. The bush is also one of the few places I’m willing to wake up at the crack of down – I’m usually a late nights and later mornings kind of girl but when there’s a safari vehicle to hop on-board I’m all for calling it at night at 9pm and waking up before the sun rises. When you’re in the bush there’s something new and exciting just waiting for you to discover each day and with all that going on there’s no point wasting time under the covers now is there? Over the past few years I’ve been lucky enough to experience a few bush holidays and I wasn’t sure that anything could make the bush any better than it already is – but, let me tell you it is possible and staying at the extraordinary Fifty Seven Waterberg proves just that!
Set in the heart of the magnificent Welgevonden Game Reserve, Fifty Seven Waterberg, is the type of place you only dream of visiting. While I’ve always enjoyed a more rustic approach to bush holidays, let me tell you, a little luxury really changes your perspective on it all. Perched on the edge of a hill top, the 5-star luxury lodge is a bush oasis for guests who want to enjoy the finer things in life while still being able to get away from it all. And, there’s something to be said about the type of relaxation you can experience when you’re looking out over 35 000 hectares of unsurpassed natural beauty while reclining poolside with a gin & tonic in one hand a good book in the other. Being here you want nothing more than to leave your cell-phone in the room (even though they do have WiFi available) and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. But, while Fifty Seven Waterberg is the stuff dreams are made of it’s still super accessible for South Africans who are looking for a weekend break with family and friends or even a romantic getaway.
Just three hours’ drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria, Fifty Seven Waterberg offers anyone looking for a lot of peace and quiet, just that. With just 5 guest suites, sleeping 2 guests each, you will never have more than 10 guests disturbing your peace at this intimate spot. Which also means it’s just as easy to take over the whole joint for a special occasion or family getaway! I love that the luxury lodge offers guests the option to enjoy a full board (including all meals, select beverages, and morning and afternoon game drives) or self-catering stay where guests opt to use all of the lodge’s facilities on a pay-as-you-go basis (where charges apply when purchasing beverages from the bar for example). This makes staying at this beyond magical lodge much more accessible for families or groups looking for a little bit of luxury while still on a budget.
I must say thought that springing for full board is quite a treat! Especially if you’re on a romantic getaway. We were served three meals a day and all of which were absolutely delicious and beautifully presented. From a breakfast buffet chock-full with a selection of fresh fruits, cheeses, crackers, pancakes, salmon, and more to a light and lovely chicken salad for lunch and three-course feast for dinner, the food at Fifty Seven Waterberg is something you definitely want to experience. They also offer a wide selection of drinks at affordable prices with beers at as little as R20 and a bottle of wine at as little as R110. Of course, the dining experience, in fact the whole lodge experience, is only made better by the incredible staff at Fifty Seven Waterberg. There’s no doubt about it, this bunch are some of the best in the business and we wanted for nothing while we there.
And as for the rest of the facilities, Fifty Seven Waterberg will take your breath away! We loved hanging out on the stylish and modern pool deck, complete with overflow pool, umbrellas, and sunbeds while sipping on G&Ts and even ate our meals outside in the morning and afternoon. Once the sun goes down you can retreat to the comfy bar area for a night cap or warm up in front of the giant fire-pit outside. We spent our nights sipping wine in front of the fire, while joyfully chatting away about our experiences on the game drives that day and getting to know our fellow guests. And, when we wanted it a little privacy we simply slipped away to our private deck just outside our oh-so-luxurious room – from here we had a magnificent view of the valley below and could enjoy a quiet chat before heading to bed.
As for Welgevonden Game Reserve, this was my first time visiting this amazing reserve and I must say it was my favourite of all the reserves I have visited in South Africa (yes, even Kruger!) The reserve is absolutely massive, taking an hour to drive from one side to the next, and we saw an incredible range of wildlife over the weekend we were there. The reserve has wildlife in abundance and on just three game drives we saw more elephants, zebra, giraffe, and other forms of wildlife than we could count. We even had a rather special encounter with a cheetah and her cubs, a once in a lifetime opportunity in my books. I was blown away at how varied the landscape is in this reserve and if it’s a magical experience you want then this is the place to find it!
I cannot wait to go back to Welgevonden Game Reserve and Fifty Seven Waterberg very soon and if you’re itching to go then you can book a night, or more from R3875 per person for full board. But, as I said, it’s also worth contacting their booking department to find out more about the more affordable self-catering option. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Fifty Seven Waterberg website here. And, for more information and pictures of the lodge you can also say Hi to Fifty Seven Waterberg on Facebook.
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After years of working as an Editor and writer for popular websites like Joburg’s Darling, Cape Town’s Darling and Joburg.co.za, Crystal left her sanity and an established career in lifestyle journalism behind to follow her dream of creating a website for the intellectual and discerning woman. Today she spends her time chasing the thrill of being the first to know about ‘the next big thing’. She’ll try anything once and has been known to put her body, hair and health on the line – all in the name of research.