Situated in the pristine Welgevonden Game Reserve in the North West Province of South Africa, Makweti Safari Lodge has all the appurtenances that you will expect from a 5-star establishment in the bush and more.
It is a Monday afternoon when we arrive at the Main Gate of Welgevonden Game Reserve. A friendly security guard hands over some books for us to sign, indemnifying the Reserve of any liable causes that might be our doing. We have already entered the domain that belongs to the animals, so respect for their space goes a long way in ensuring our safety.
We are met by Lodge Manager, Neil Davison, who loads our luggage into his Land Cruiser, and we set off for the gates of Makweti. The forty-minute drive takes you through the spectacular scenery that is distinctive of Welgevonden Game Reserve, and the sheer 34 850 hectare size makes your marvel at its enormity.
A juvenile wildebeest stands in the middle of the road before scurrying off in search of its herd, and to our left, a lone buffalo is grazing. Before long, we are met by the incredible sight of a dazzle of zebra welcoming us to Makweti Safari Lodge. They are so close; you can almost touch them. There are quite a few foals, and one of the older ones can’t quite get his lip to cooperate with his teeth.
Jessica Brown, part of the Makweti Management team, is at hand to welcome us with her dazzling smile, piercing blue eyes, lean frame, fresh, welcoming towel, and refreshing drink.
We are staying in Suite 1, a short walk over the rope bridge where rock hyrax and vervet monkeys regularly cross your path. Neil shows us around our impressive suite, with its natural rock construction and thatch roof, it blends right into the landscape. Inside is a different story altogether. Imagine an oversized bed covered with the most beautiful imported linen, headboards adorned with a zebra skin, a mosquito net canopy should you wish to utilize it, a free-standing Victorian bath, a gilded shower, and the fluffiest bathrobes your skin has ever come into contact with.
It’s time for lunch, and chef Johannes has prepared a spicy Upside down Bobotie with baby marrow pasta served with an anchovy dressing. For dessert, we are served melt-in-the-mouth naartjie pannacotta with a porcupine chocolate stick. Being Chaîne des Rôtisseurs accredited ensures that the service and cuisine are of an outstanding level.
Neil takes us on our first game drive, where we see Impala and Waterbuck. A keen botanist, Neil, also explains the intricacies of the different plant and flower species.
We freshen up for dinner, and Neil collects us from our room to accompany us to the dining area. Makweti is unfenced, and at night, you never know what you might encounter outside your room. For your safety, a ranger will escort you wherever you need to go.
Dinner is a gastronomic feast with bush flower, orange and sweet chili prawns on a fanned avocado, sprinkled with coriander leaves. For mains, you have a choice between chicken Ballantine stuffed with spinach, feta, and peppadew, flavored with coconut and mango sauce or venison fillet marinated and served with a red wine jus. For dessert, you can choose between molten chocolate pudding with sauce anglaise or camembert, and nut gateaux drizzled with lemon-infused honey.
After a relaxing shower, it’s off for bed, and I dream of the animals, we might see the following day. Our 5 am wake-up call startles me, and we are ready to depart at 05:30.
A beautiful rhino is taking a nap under a tree, and we are amused by the chasing antics of some black-backed jackal. We encounter lots of rhino, a warthog grazing, a solitary elephant with a broken tusk, and a giraffe feeding on some bones he has dug up.
We take a welcome dip in the pool, after which we leave on our evening game drive. The test is our guide for the remainder of our stay, and we see hippo, elephant, rhino, and giraffe feeding. Our dinner is a barbecue, consisting of lamb chops, boerewors, chicken and date tagine, vegetable sosaties, pap baskets with tomato and onion gravy, and rolled greek salad. Dessert is a choice of plum crumble with cinnamon ice cream or goats cheese truffles with preserves.
The next morning we are awoken by the most spectacular thunderstorm and decide to forego our game drive. It’s cold and wet outside, and the luxuries of our room are just too pleasant to surrender. www.makweti.com
*** Views expressed are the author’s own. Thank you to Lee-Ann Morrison from Nicky Arthur for arranging our stay.
(1) Makweti is situated in a malaria-free area in the Welgevonden Game Reserve, approximately three hours by road from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.
(2) The lodge can arrange a road transfer or flight to the Reserve.
(3) The Limpopo has summer rainfall (November through April) when vegetation is lush and green.
(4) Pack enough sunscreen, bring your hats and swimming costume along as it can get slightly warm during the day time. There is a drop in temperature in the evenings and mornings, so pack a light sweater or jersey.
(5) During the summer months, expect some lightning and thunderstorms, which last about two hours.
(6) If you are going on a bushwalk, bring some comfortable walking shoes along.
(7) Makweti has a lovely curio shop with stunning memorabilia to remind you of your unforgettable stay.
(8) Don’t forget your camera and memory cards!