Where the River Reigns

Premier Magazine (South AFrica) - - Contents - Text: Michèle Meyer Im­ages © Nko­mazi Game Re­serve

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.


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