Friday, 11 July 2014

Askari Game Lodge, Magaliesburg, Gauteng

Natural perspective

As we drive into the Askari game reserve, some primal instinct takes over and we become alert to every sound, sight and smell. There’s nothing quite like that feeling, which instantly dispels any other worries one may have packed in one’s suitcase. 

This Big Five game reserve is a short drive from Johannesburg or Pretoria, set in the picturesque Magaliesburg mountains. There are exciting game drives on offer, or one may let the game come to you with the backdrop of the beautiful views from the stoep of one’s own thatched cottage. Askari Game Lodge’s row of cottages overlook waterholes where Waterbuck and Kudu come and go in their gentle and dignified manner.

The Lodge has one of the most comprehensive ox wagon collections, and the beautifully preserved wagons of different types are on display in the grounds.

Fully catered, we enjoy an impressive buffet dinner and breakfast during our stay. There are several indoor and outdoor eating and lounge areas with fireplaces and we find a delightful reading lounge upstairs in the thatched attic.

The suites are spacious, with king or twin beds with upholstered headboards. Clever use has been made of matching fabrics, which feel both modern and traditional – toile de jouy, florals, dragon fly patterns and stripes. The bathroom has a Victorian-style slipper bath and a shower with a view down to the waterhole.

Accommodation Experience:
Having recently come through a patch of despair myself, I am pleased to be able to take my despairing cousin out for a retreat at Askari Game Lodge. All the key ingredients are there for a heart-to-heart on our girls’ night out – views of the sun setting over the dam while buck drink peacefully, a fireplace with a cosy couch in our room, complimentary sherry and later we each take a long and mindful bath by candlelight.

My dear cousin is suffering intensely and asks the most difficult and painful questions about life. Of course I don’t have any answers, but later as I lie back in the bath and reflect on our conversation, I feel the cool air coming off the dam as it blows gently over my face, and I look up and out at the stars, I simply know that her soul is being tended in the most brutal and tender of ways. This is what a stay in a beautiful natural context brings – a certain perspective that is truthful, integrated and hopeful. And, as only one who has herself recently come through a period of despair can Know, I have a deep certainty that “all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well”. 

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