9 Magical last-minute bush stays

Unique. Unforgettable. Magical.  This is the African bushveld experience

Across South Africa more specifically, finding diversity in location, landscape and luxury is easy but with that said there really is so much to choose from.

If you don’t get your kicks on Route 66 but prefer to take a walk off the beaten track, then it’s time to head out into nature to roam the beautiful wild spaces of South Africa.

Experts will tell you that Deception Valley in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is an experience not to be missed. And there can be no better time than the month of August leading towards Spring to explore these special spaces of SA.

Don’t forget Women’s Day on the 9th of August… romance her by doing some bird watching or taking a magical sunset cruise.   Added to this Elephant Day is on the 12th of August… what better way to grab life by the tusks than to set off for some spectacular elephant sightings. 

Here is a selection to makes things a bit easier for you to choose that epic adventure.

Karongwe River Lodge - Kruger

The qualified game rangers and Shangaan trackers at Karongwe River Lodge ensure that a multitude of fauna is seen on the daily game drive offered. Over 365 bird species call this section of the Greater Kruger home as well as the Big 5.

The location is absolutely enchanting, sporting views of the Makhutsi river and the panoramic Lowveld. Eleven upscale suites make up the Karongwe River Lodge, with a spacious deck that provides fantastic game viewing from the comfort of the main lodge.

Kuname River Lodge - Kruger 

Sporting magnificent views of the foothills of the Drakensberg, Kuname River Camp consists of 5five, tastefully decorated chalets that provide guests with an intimate safari experience in the Karongwe Private Game Reserve – 45 minutes away from the Kruger National Park.

Experienced rangers ensure that wildlife sightings are frequent and an impressive number of animal and bird species roam free in this 9000 hectare reserve. From open- air vehicle game viewing by morning to sipping on a cocktail in a rockpool by evening, Kuname River Lodge beckons to be explored this winter. 

Tangala Safari Camp - Kruger

The renown Thornybush Game Reserve, located in a naturally-rich part of the Kruger National Park, is home to Tangala Safari Camp – a thatched, luxury camp comprising 5 twin-bedded chalets. This electricity-free choice of accommodation prides itself on conservation and sustainability. In fact, it is one of the very few electricity-free safari camps in South Africa.

Game viewing is of a high standard in Thornybush and the Big 5 is regularly spotted, along with a horde of resident bird species. Tangala may be off-the-grid, but it is certainly on par with one of the best safari experiences around.

Tambuti Game Lodge  - Pilanesberg

Surrounded by ancient Tambuti trees, this lodge in the malaria-free Pilanesberg National Park is equipped with beautifully-appointed rooms, private decks and outdoor showers.

Tambuti Game Lodge is the ideal destination to sneak away for a romantic weekend in the bush – private, candlelit dinners can be arranged here and the attraction of the Big 5 and other large game makes this lodge a popular destination for South African travellers.

Tintswalo Safari Lodge - Manyeleti

Located in Mpumalanga on the private Manyeleti Game Reserve concession – a lush, exclusive lodge nestled between the Timbavati Private Reserve to the north, Sabi Sand Reserve to the south, and open to the Greater Kruger National Park on its fenceless eastern boundary. Resting amidst an ancient sycamore tree grove that overlooks a waterhole frequented by large herds of elephant and other big game, Tintswalo Safari Lodge is a pristine wilderness reserve.  There are only two commercially operated lodges based in the Manyeleti.  Predators found in the Thornveld region include Lion, Cheetah, Hyena, Wild dog, Leopard, and Black Backed Jackal. Grazers found here include Giraffe, Impala and Duiker, Bushbuck, Kudu, and Nyala. Wildebeest, Zebra, White Rhino, Waterbuck, and large herds of Buffalo are common on this soil type due to the abundance of quality grazing. 

The Bush House - Madikwe

Madikwe is arguably the finest game reserve in the country, and The Bush House is a jewel in the crown of this North-West Province treasure. The luxurious lodge we know today used to be quite different, and was actually once a farmhouse that has been renovated to its present-day glory.

Six en-suite rooms are available, with four of them each sporting unparalleled views of Madikwe, where the Big 5 and a host of other wildlife are regularly spotted.

Alternative outdoor stay options...

Vindoux Guest Farm - Tulbach

 The tranquility of the intimate location lends itself to switching off and completely focussing you and  yours.  The farmhouse offers full catering so there is no need to venture further than the romantic tree-top cottages or luxurious spa. But for those looking for some fun activities as part of your weekend escape there are plenty of options to choose from with wine tasting, horse riding and even ziplining nearby.

Tsala Treetop Lodge and Villas - Plettenberg Bay

Located high above the indigenous forest of the Garden Route, the Tsala Treetop Lodge sets the tone for an intimate and decadent escape into nature.  The  luxurious accommodation, and delicious food and drinks options are tailored to relaxation. The lodge is stylishly designed and decorated, creating a perfect backdrop that would excite any nature-loving photographer.

Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat - Clanwilliam

 If it’s a touch of the dramatic that you’re after, then the majestic landscapes and rock formations of Bushmans Kloof might be the ideal backdrop you’re looking for when escaping to nature. The breathtaking natural rock amphitheatre is a spectacular setting  and the luxury offered by the Bushmans Kloof accommodation is second to none.

The flora and fauna of the surrounding area mean that not only is the destination inspiring, but so is the travel involved to arrive there.

What to read next on Traveller24:

- Wildest Wild: Our top 10 bush of 2016

7 Off-the-beaten-track road trips and routes to explore

10 Cool Pilanesberg facts that will make you go 'bos'

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