Sunday, 15 March 2015

Nselweni Bush Lodge, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve

Halala Ezemvelo!

So here’s the thing – we have always loved Ezemvelo (KZN Wildlife) for their unerring commitment to conservation and community upliftment, but now we have a new reason to celebrate their pioneering spirit – the creation of beautiful bush lodges in the form of Nselweni eco-villas in Hlhulhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve. These spacious “tents” are a design success. Each little freestanding lodge faces out onto the bush, with folding back glass doors and windows across the full front of the kitchenette, bedroom and bathroom. From your twin beds you look straight out over your own verandah onto natural African bushveld. It is a twitcher’s paradise, surrounded by the sounds of Emerald-Spotted Wood Doves, Trumpeter Hornbills and African Wood Hoopoe. At night you hear lions mating, hyena whoop and elephants trumpet.

The compact, yet open design of the lodges allows you to feel connected with the bushveld beyond, even while cooking indoors. The gorgeous kitchenette has a vaulted ceiling with stylish cutlery, crockery, pots and utensils. A gas powered fridge, stove and oven compliment the safari feel. Glamping this is none-the-less, with smooth cream screed floors, a swish Nguni patchwork rug and a leather armchair. 

The bathroom is calm and spacious, with a creamy tiled shower more than a meter wide, opening full onto the bush. Brushed silver handrails, wide doorways and seamless ramps make the units wheelchair accessible. 

Nselweni is luxurious, combining both style and substance. And it is good to know that your contribution is to Ezemvelo, and speifically to the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi game reserve which is widely credited to having saved the white rhino from extinction, thanks to the foresight and dedication of people such as the late Ian Player and Magquba Ntombela. Even today, you need not drive far out of the camp gates of Nselweni to encounter a crash of the great, gentle beasts.

Accommodation Experience
Being in a Big 5 game reserve, we slip easily into our very different daily rhythm, waking early for a dawn game drive, having breakfast at a picnic spot with a view, napping after lunch, going out again for an evening drive with sundowners and braaing outdoors in the evenings. The first morning I wake at 4am, too excited to sleep. We have left the curtains of the front of the villa open and the moon spills in over the bed.

As our new year resolution, now lasting well into spring, we took a decision that we do not need more “things” in our life and we came to the conclusion that what the environment needs least is increased productivity. So we pledged to take more time off work, and instead of giving one another products for birthdays and Christmas, we give the gift of experiences in beautiful and natural parts of the country.

And so, at my 4am waking, I decide to participate in this creation of a memory, instead of falling back to sleep, and I head out to my private deck. It is a quiet dawn by African bushveld standards, the lions finally having stopped their cavorting. Then I hear what sounds like a rhino snorting beyond the fence and I see a hyena glide eerily past in the half dark.

I smile in appreciation and send up a silent prayer of thanks for the many people who contributed to the conservation of the vast reserve and the creation of this beautiful space from which to enjoy it.

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