Where the River Reigns
A drive of only three hours lies between edgy Gauteng city slickers and the haven of natural diversity and rest that is Nkomazi Game Reserve.
This Mpumalanga gem nestles in the Barberton Greenstone Belt among mountains that have seen aeons pass. The 15,000 hectare tract of land is unique in its ability to sustain alongside Lowveld game species like kudu, nyala, and impala, as well as Highveld species such as eland and springbok. More than 300 bird species inhabit the lush reserve with its bountiful diversity of flora, ranging from rolling savannah plains to dense riverine forest.
Like a powerful but benevolent king, the Komati River reigns over Nkomazi, sustaining its grasslands and abundant herds of game. Its boisterous rush is constant at the beautifully appointed Komati Tented Lodge. Falling asleep to the song of the river and waking up to its energetic promise of yet another day of fluent one-ness with nature forms an intrinsic part of the sense of seclusion experienced by the guests.
Exclusive, classic safari style exudes from the 10 tented suites, tastefully decorated with campaign-style furniture, gleaming copper lamps, and richly coloured kilims. Such is the comfort and ambience of the suites that guests find leaving them at all quite a feat. The lure of flopping onto the impeccably white king-size bed and simply soaking in the sounds of the hypnotic cascade of the water is compelling.
Outside each suite stretches an expanse of teak sun deck, screened off discreetly to ensure complete privacy. A sweeping view across the Komati and its surrounding ancient landscape beckons in front. Tweaking a lounge session on one’s own deck to resemble an in-house hydro experience is rather doable what with a private plunge pool, outside shower, and an irresistible Victorian bath equipped with fluffy towels and luxury bath products.
Activities, for those who can bear parting with their luxe living quarters, include guided mountain bike rides as well as nature walks, birding safaris, stargazing, fly-fishing in the Komati, and two daily interactive game drives. Being pampered in the River Retreat adds another level of bliss to the already extensive list of unforgettable moments at Nkomazi Game Reserve.
Game drives in open game viewing vehicles offer not only sights of veld teeming with game, but also insightful input from experienced game rangers passionate about all facets of their work. A single game drive may hold the thrill of getting close to a rhino, large herds of elephants, and graceful giraffes, as well as being spellbound and humbled in the presence of game royalty: lions.
Few treats compare with the highly civilized ritual of being handed a frosty gin and tonic to toast the fierce beauty of an African sunset, concluding a perfect day. Around the game viewing vehicle guests silhouetted against the dusky light leave an image of old-time Africa, an image that one returns to often while gridlocked on some highway back in the city.
A definitive highlight after the evening drive is to be welcomed back to camp with flaming torches leading into the boma, where a giant bonfire greedily blazes into the velvet night. Pre-dinner drinks take place in near silence as guests sit around the fire, entranced by its primitive magnetism. Tentative talk about the sighting highlights of the day begins, stories are shared, and, soon, laughter echoes.
Tradition has evolved the braai into the South African meal that exemplifies comfort and joy. Appetites are whetted as the aroma of meat roasting on coals lace the air. Simple, honest food makes the feast. African soul food, award-winning South African wines, and like-minded company combines to make a dinner to be remembered. Dining under the glittering jewels of the Southern Hemisphere night sky forever links guests to this primal continent, home of mankind.
Back in the comfort of the tented suite, the gurgle of the Komati settles guests to sleep. Its lullaby dreamily beckons them to soon return to Nkomazi.
For more information, please visit www.newmarkhotels.com.