What sets this luxury lodge apart from all others is its spectacular location on the edge of a vast valley in Hluhluwe Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal. The architecture makes the most of this setting, with a dramatic, full-height glass front and wooden deck which reaches out into the view. From this vantage point, you can watch the light change as the sun rises and sets, while witnessing animals move silently below, undisturbed and protected in a pristine natural habitat.
The main lodge is upmarket, with snazzy furnishings and tasteful local fabrics. Lighting has been used to great effect to showcase a wall-length mural of wildlife. Throughout the lodge, movement has been created by photographic wall murals and I have to remind myself to close my mouth as each turn reveals a new breath-taking scene. The long pool is framed on one side with bright aloes and on the other side with nothing but open valley views.
This new lodge represents a coming of age for South African hospitality. Offering the best that local architecture, photography, décor, food and natural wildlife, the lodge is a celebration of all that this unique corner of the globe offers its privileged guests. Community-owned, the professionalism, warmth and pride of the staff marks our point in history as we transform into a developed nation. Lodge manager Sphamandla Shabalala says “It is Isibindi’s commitment to staff development that attracted me to take up the position at this lodge. I love taking staff from a basic level and growing them into competent professionals” he explains. “It is so rewarding to see people grow – it’s such a sense of achievement.”
Despite the many amazing features of this lodge, I am most excited about waking up to this gorgeous face – a giant photograph of a warthog. I set my alarm early, even earlier than necessary to catch the morning game drive. I smile as I wake and greet my newfound best bud. I sit in bed with my coffee and notice new modern features of my suite which I had not seen the night before. I marvel as the sky turns pink, then pale blue, then ochre and I feel intensely proud to be a South African on this gentle and beautiful dawn.