Girls gone wild

2013-05-24 09:30

Three writers round up some gal pals and head out of the city for a weekend in the bush.

Let us lounge

Mbali Dlamini

The crew

My sister Nolwazi and I, plus two of my close friends, Ayanda Mbango and Tshepiso Kgaswane, decided to take a break from the hustle and bustle of our jobs and 20-something lives. We figured we needed time to have as much fun as we did in our teens.

The place

Ngwenya Lodge near Nelspruit in Mpumalanga. www.ngwenya.co.za

The break

The lodge is perfectly located on the southern bank of the Crocodile River. That didn’t mean much on paper, but once we arrived we realised that it meant amazing views and lots of game and other animals.

Our thatched chalet was spacious and we loved having someone come in to clean because, let’s face it, who wants to think about housework when on holiday?

Since our city schedules dictate that we always have something to do, we decided to do as little as possible.

The lodge offers amazing game drives and we also spent a lot of time swimming. We’ve been friends since high school, and swimming together was so sweetly nostalgic we spent hours in the pool.

The restaurant at Ngwenya Lodge gave us a fresh perspective on sundowners. The balcony overlooks a watering hole and that makes it very different to our usual Friday night sundowners, where big boys in suits are the only things to be seen at a city watering hole.

Overall, Ngwenya lodge is the perfect girls’ weekend away spot if you’re looking for time for introspection and real conversations with friends. It may not be a nonstop party, but that’s exactly what we wanted.

What to pack

Sunscreen, bikinis, shorts, maxi dresses and comfortable shoes.

Fun-O-Meter

Space Our chalet was huge and, bonus, every girl had her own bathroom. ????

Cocktails

We explored every place at the lodge where we could possibly enjoy a cocktail and did not once get bored. ?????

Glam factor

You can be all-the-way laidback at Ngwenya Lodge, but it also provides the ideal place to try out some bush-inspired fashion that might not always translate in the city. ???

Break for the bush

Gayle Edmunds

The crew

My best friend Kelly and I are working mothers, so a weekend away without our children is just another reason to feel guilty.

We both have only one child, each the same age, so taking them with us is a fun option. Leaving our husbands behind… well, that’s easy and they love it (beer, chips, feet on the table).

The place

Zebula Lodge & Spa near Bela-Bela in Limpopo. www.zebula.co.za

The break

Kelly and I – sprogs in the back – headed for Zebula. They say it’s a two-hour drive but it’s closer to three with traffic and toddler pit stops. We wanted the option to feed the children when needed, so we decided on Zebula’s self-catering option.

The main clubhouse of the estate, which includes a posh lodge and timeshare houses, has a menagerie of creatures as one of its star attractions.

Among these are a selection of pythons – ones that could have eaten our four-year-olds, making them a complete hit with said four-year-olds.

For us, though, the loungers near the huge sandpit and jungle gym were a hit.

It’s possible to sip cocktails and chat while the children build sandcastles and push each other down the slide. This is more the speed of a girls’ weekend BC (before children).

We had an early dinner on the clubhouse terrace, and hats off to the staff who pushed through our food early so there wouldn’t be a meltdown.

Afterwards, we hightailed it back to our house, put the children to bed and cracked open the champagne.

We should have sat on our patio listening to the sounds of the bush, but we watched a really bad Police Academy movie instead – that’s what girls’ nights in are all about, anyway.

We started the next day with a game drive; there are no predators on the estate, which means one can choose to walk and enjoy the picnic sites. For the more active and adventurous, there are elephant-back safaris nearby and an array of sports, including putt-putt, and paths on which to ride a bike.

What to pack

Costumes (it’s safe to wear bikinis, even over 40, because it’s private), bubbly for the Jacuzzi.

Fun-O-Meter

Space

We were given a huge house with two en-suite bedrooms, a giant lounge and kitchen, and an entire top floor for entertaining. ????

Cocktails

We had our own ice-making fridge – perfect for sundowner gin and tonics. ????

Glam Factor

There is a Jacuzzi in the garden. Does it get more glamorous than having a cocktail in hand with the African sun dropping down the sky and the sounds of cicadas in the twilight? ????

Just wanna have fun

Babalwa shota

The crew

Four of us, including my friends Wendi Ntutu, Nomiselo Willem and Thando Ntutu.

The place

Birdsong Cottages near Modimolle, Limpopo. www.birdsongcottage.co.za

The break

One moody weekend in March we headed to a bushveld game farm. What was meant to be a two-hour drive was transformed into hours of driving in severe rain. By the time we got to Limpopo, it was nightfall.

Our accommodation was a rustic, four-bedroom, self-catering chalet named Kingfisher – spacious enough to comfortably accommodate eight people.

There was no chance of us being dubbed the noisy neighbours because the cottages on the farm are separated by bamboo-style fences – close enough to each other to walk, but far enough away to be private.

Our yard was complete with an outdoor braai area – with a lamp post that turned into an impromptu dance pole once the vodka and chocolate tequila shots started flowing.

The area is home to at least 50 species of birds, tranquil nature scenes and a dam right across from our veranda.

If you fancy a dip, there is a swimming pool that the girls and I made great use of, even at midnight.

The farm offers hiking trails for nature lovers. In keeping with the spirit of the place, we attempted a walk on our own on Saturday afternoon. A tall, cold vodka tonic and a braai were called for after that expedition.

Being the social media-loving city slickers we are, connecting with the outside world was a little trying. After discovering that getting a cellphone signal meant hunching over the coffee table, we finally gave up and enjoyed the solitude.

What to pack

That novel you’ve been trying to read for three months, sunscreen, insect repellent, a radio and swimwear. Some hiking boots and binoculars should be included if you’re a true nature lover.

Fun-O-Meter

Space

The place was spacious enough for us. I loved the king-size bed with its crisp white linen and firm mattress – it was heaven-sent for an insomniac like me. ????

Cocktails

This is a casual bring-your-own-braai-and-booze weekend away, so make sure to visit the bottle store before you hit the highway. Bring along a blender, too (for those cocktails). ???

Glam factor

Camouflage is back in a big way, so you can feel at home in the bushveld in your trendy city threads. ???

Star index

?Very disappointing

?? Passable

??? Could do better

???? Getting there

????? Exceeded expectations

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