The Ul­ti­mate Play­ground

Premier Magazine (South AFrica) - - Contents - Text: Julie Gra­ham Im­ages © Leobo Pri­vate Re­serve

Si­t­u­ated on 8,000 hectares of the Water­berg re­gion in Lim­popo, Leobo Pri­vate Re­serve, the brain child of Bri­tish tech mogul, po­lar ex­plorer, and astron­omy en­thu­si­ast, Rory Sweet, is a sa­fari lodge with a big dif­fer­ence. Here, tra­di­tional game drive ve­hi­cles are rarely used and in­stead, one can tra­verse the bush at leisure on horse­back, quad bikes, or he­li­copter.

The most leg­endary ac­tiv­ity at Leobo is paint­balling from he­li­copters – one team in the air fir­ing brightly coloured shots at the team below on quad bikes. Other adren­a­line-filled activities in­clude driv­ing Po­laris bug­gies and quad bikes over rugged ter­rain, tac­ti­cal mil­i­tary sim­u­la­tions with as­sault ri­fles, 50 Cal­i­bre BMG tar­get shoot­ing, and sky­div­ing from a he­li­copter. More sub­dued options in­clude horse rid­ing, kayak­ing, fish­ing, rock climb­ing, hik­ing, and camp­ing.

Sweet’s love of the stars led him to build a state-of-the-art au­to­mated ob­ser­va­tory for stargazing through a com­put­erised, 20-inch tele­scope. Crys­tal clear views of the moon, plan­ets, and other ce­les­tial ob­jects can be en­joyed from this world­class dome ob­ser­va­tory. Guests can also be treated to a full tour of the night skies led by a lo­cal as­tronomer who can give a more de­tailed star­lit sa­fari. Guests can lie back on the deck, donned in a space suit, G&T in hand with a front row seat to the awe-in­spir­ing uni­verse above.

Sweet pulled out all the stops when build­ing his fam­ily home at Leobo. Twice win­ner of the Best Sa­fari House in Africa, the Ob­ser­va­tory Bush Villa (which is avail­able for fam­i­lies and smaller groups) was de­signed by award-win­ning ar­chi­tects, Sil­vio Rech and Les­ley Carstens. This ar­chi­tec­tural masterpiece takes in­spi­ra­tion from African struc­tural de­sign with its hut-like struc­tures around a “kraal”. The stag­ger­ing dome which houses the as­tro­nom­i­cal ob­ser­va­tory stands as the cen­tre­piece of the space. Tucked un­der­neath it is a dou­ble-storey li­brary that re­flects Sweet’s love for adventure – books on ex­plo­ration, Africa, as well as some of Sweet’s per­sonal anec­dotes re­ally give a taste of his pas­sion for adventure.

The Ob­ser­va­tory Bush Villa sleeps six adults and three chil­dren in three spa­cious dou­ble rooms and a triple bunk room for the chil­dren. Breath­tak­ing views

of the bush can be en­joyed from al­most any­where in the house, and the de­sign of both the in­door and out­door spa­ces is a beau­ti­ful blend of lo­cal fur­nish­ings and na­ture. The house has a heated in­fin­ity pool sur­rounded by lush veg­e­ta­tion and rock­ery, a rooftop Jacuzzi, spa­cious out­door deck, a com­fort­able TV room, kitchen, and din­ing room com­plete with an im­mense hip­poskele­ton chan­de­lier which hangs over the sand­stone din­ing ta­ble. A but­ler, maid, and per­sonal chef are there to as­sist guests, and the ser­vice is second to none.

The Lodge, si­t­u­ated a short walk from the Ob­ser­va­tory Bush Villa, is another ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tion com­pris­ing eight pri­vate chalets and a two-bed­room fam­ily chalet which sleep a to­tal of 22 peo­ple com­fort­ably. A sunken fire pit on the ex­pan­sive deck is a great place to gather and share sto­ries, and there are mul­ti­ple lounge ar­eas, a bar, snooker ta­ble, and heated swim­ming pool built into the side of the moun­tain. The Lodge is rented ex­clu­sively so is ideal for fam­i­lies and big­ger groups. It can also be rented along with the Ob­ser­va­tory Bush Villa for ad­di­tional guests or staff. This ex­clu­siv­ity is fan­tas­tic and means that ev­ery­one who stays at Leobo is there to­gether with com­plete ex­clu­sive ac­cess to the en­tire re­serve and all of its fa­cil­i­ties.

En­com­passed by rugged rocky out­crops, vast moun­tain­ous ar­eas, flow­ing rivers, and sa­van­nah, the di­verse Water­berg re­gion is one of the most beau­ti­ful re­gions in the coun­try. The best way to truly soak it all in is from he­li­copter – get flown to any num­ber of in­cred­i­ble sites on the re­serve to en­joy sun­down­ers, mi­mosas at break­fast, or just to ex­plore. The team of pas­sion­ate and ex­tremely com­pe­tent pi­lots know how to get your blood pump­ing by fly­ing through gorges, up steep moun­tain­ous cliffs, and weav­ing the river ways. Sweet is pas­sion­ate about con­ser­va­tion, so it is en­sured that none of the activities dis­rupt the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

Ev­ery­thing is con­sid­ered at Leobo and ab­so­lutely no stone left un­turned when it comes to the flora, fauna, and, of course, fun.

For more in­for­ma­tion, please visit www.leobo­pri­vatere­serve.com.

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