WATCH: See the other Big 5 at the Waterberg's Lapalala Wilderness

2019-06-06 06:30 - Marisa Crous
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It is rutting season. Grunts, roars and 'barks' echo throughout the reserve come day or night as impalas enter mating season. And an increased testosterone level in rams become an audible experience.

About three and a half hours from Johannesburg is a slice of nature's most sublime venison pie, the Waterberg. 

Situated on 50 000 hectares of land, the Lapalala Wilderness is a UNESCO-declared Biosphere Reserve found in the malaria-free Waterberg, Limpopo. Since late last year, it has become home to Tintswalo at Lapalala, also known for its luxe Atlantic, Boulders, Safari Lodge & Manor House accommodation, Lapalala is the latest addition to the family.

But it's a bit different from what you'd expect to find in the bush. 

Here, it is not necessarily just about safari or chasing snaps of the kings and queens of the wild.

There is an alternate Big 5 in this bush: 

READ: Sofa Safari: The 5-star lodge where elephants drink out of the pool 

#1 Stay in a luxe tent or in a treehouse

Encounter nature and view game as you quietly indulge in the closeness of the outdoors in a tented room, connected via elevated wooden walkways. Completely private, here you really feel like the bush is yours. It offers you luxury under the zero-light-polluted sky.

As you wake up for your middle-of-the-night loo break, you hear impala rutting into the night. You poke your head outside the tent to see the moonlight bounce off the almost endless plains of bushveld as insects play. 

The family-friendly lodge can accommodate a total of 16 adults and four children and comprises of seven luxury tented suites with private plunge pools, fireplaces and en-suite bathrooms, some with outdoor baths and showers. The accommodation also includes a luxury unit of two suites for friends and family travelling together, as well as two individual family tented suites, each with an adjacent bedroom for two children.

Every unit has its own private plunge pool, and many feature al fresco baths; and all have outdoor showers (nippy on 4 degree mornings in the height of winter, but ideal for summer).

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(Luxury tents. Photo: Marisa Crous) 

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(Each unit has its own plunge pool and viewing deck. Photo: Marisa Crous)  

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(The open-air treehouse experience. Photo: Marisa Crous)  

Paying homage to Africa’s indigenous tribes and the preservation of their cultures, the suites are lovingly decorated accordingly and named after some of the continent’s most prominent tribes, ranging from South Africa’s Xhosa, Zulu and Venda, to Himba, Maasai, Tuareg and Turkana.

Treehouse you said? Yes. You have the option to upgrade your luxury tent to a romantic sleep-out experience under the African skies to spend the night close to nature on a comfortably furnished, raised wooden platform out in the reserve.  

READ: Sunburn, safaris and hearty helpings of heartburn: Overindulgence in the bushveld 

#2 Have an off-the-grid experience

An ecotourist's dream, the reserve is environmentally conscious and operates entirely by using solar power. That means less plastic, no kettle in your room, and no reception. Don't worry there is wi-fi for emergencies.

Great for a digi-detox, you are really able to get away from it all here. But don't fret, staff will deliver hot water to your room (along with a wake-up call if requested) every morning for you to enjoy your morning coffee or tea. 

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(Bush breakfast. Photo: Marisa Crous) 

#3 See real Bushman paintings 

Do a guided walk to rock art and iron age sites and visits to the famous community based Lapalala Wilderness School and the endangered wildlife breeding programme, which include species such as sable and roan antelope. 

#4 You basically have the bush to yourself

Tintswalo at Lapalala is currently the only commercial game lodge in the reserve. One more will join them on 50 000 hectares later this year. However, that means it is your animal kingdom for a period of time. This is something very rare, and incredible special. 

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(The incredible view of the Lapalala Wilderness. Photo: Marisa Crous)  

#5 The staff is part of the experience

Tintswalo at Lapalala offers you as a guest sundowner cruises, riverside picnics, birdwatching and stargazing and pampering spa treatments outdoors. But these experiences are nothing without the staff, the people who are not only knowledgeable about the area, its conservation efforts, flora and fona and history, but are attuned to you as a guest. None of these experiences would be complete without them.

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(Sunset cruise. Photo: Marisa Crous)  

Tintswalo means 'The intangible feeling of peace, love and gratitude bestowed upon someone that gives you a meaningful and worthy gift'. 

And at Lapalala you can feel everyone's love, passion and energy for the place. It is almost tangible.

This makes you as a guest feel like you are part of the family. Allowed into the circle of trust, you are given a taste of life as it is experienced here on a daily basis. You are more than a tourist, a guest, or a passing visitor, you are bestowed the meaningful gift of a true welcome. 

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(The Tintswalo at Lapalala staff. Photo: Marisa Crous)  

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For more go here. (Low Season rates from R7200 per person sharing per night and High Season from R8900 per person sharing per night, including luxury accommodation, all meals and house drinks, two safari activities per day, WiFi and laundry, as well as a Children’s Activity programme.)


From R4200 per person sharing per night, inclusive of luxury accommodation, all meals and twice daily safari excursions or wilderness experiences, laundry and wifi. Excludes beverages, spa treatments and other extra’s. Special rates available for children. Valid for travel up to 15 December 2019. (Subject to presentation of SA ID document when making the reservation)

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