What many of the luxury lodge websites don’t reveal, but which bitter experience has taught me, is that the enjoyment of a safari holiday depends quite extensively on your fellow guests. And this is one of the unsaid things I love most about the Isibindi Africa Lodges – the gentle, happy, like-minded guests.
Perhaps thanks to the affordability of the luxury, combined with the lodges being located in remote natural settings, the type of guests you are likely to encounter here are (in my professional opinion), simply lovely. In my twelve different stays at the various Isibindi Africa Lodges, I have yet to meet someone whose company I didn’t enjoy. Most guests are nature lovers, yet many are new to the exciting world of safari in Africa. The people I have met include, amongst others, a history teacher, physiotherapist and Royal Airforce pilot from the UK, a banker and his fashion store manager wife from Germany, various non-profit development organisation managers, a lawyer and computer software systems developer from Argentina, as well as South Africa lovers of the great outdoors, fine food and characterful accommodation. Most guests appreciate the community upliftment of the Isibindi Africa Lodges, wishing to know that their contribution to South Africa tourism goes to local, under-resourced rural communities. There is instant rapport, coupled with respect for one another’s space, silence and privacy.
One guest I felt particularly privileged to meet was Herbert Bednarik, an octogenarian from Austria. Herbert visited South Africa as a young man, an engineer and photojournalist. He is able to recall his experience with remarkable clarity and brought along a box of beautiful black and white and colour photographs he took during his stay more than half a decade ago.
Ever since his first visit as a young man, on his first epic voyage to South Africa, Herbert had longed to return. Doing so now with his beloved wife, you can feel his enthusiasm for this corner of the globe. I spent a happy morning going through his images and marveling at the changes be has observed since his first visit. While so much has changed, he is spellbound by the familiarity of the context, the climate, the smells and sounds of the African bush.
Experiencing my country through his and other appreciative guests’ eyes has greatly enhanced by holidays at Isibindi Africa Lodges and now it is one of my favourite aspects of visiting the different lodges – to meet interesting and generous people and taste again their discovery of all that is Africa. I hope you enjoying looking at these timeless images as much as I did.