In the semi-darkness and together with Warren we drive in the Quantum down to Singita, some 15Km distant.
Here we transfer onto one of these open tourist Land Rovers that the lodge has kindly put at our disposal and the three of us take off to creep firstly into the Lebombo hills.
The Nwanetsi stream is dammed by a ‘Biyamithi type’ weir in front of the lodge that must have been in place long before the lodge was built. After the flood of a month ago the weir is brimming and holding back a large expanse of water. We then climb into the hills and at a lookout we stop, disembark and have coffee and snacks.
The view westward is just breathtaking – as far as one can see across the heavily grassed plains towards Satara. I muse how these African vistas knock spots off picture-perfect New Zealand with its sterile wildlife. Across these great plains teem herds of African animals and the great predators which add so massively to the aura of a true wilderness.
These concessions serve a useful purpose in Kruger. Because of the extensive road network and the number of tour vehicles, poachers are less likely to go about their vile business here. Singita operates 15 tour vehicles on their 15,000 hectare property and all are linked by radio – to keep them apart – unlike Kruger where they swarm together onto any sighting. So one seldom sees another vehicle. And do they keep high standards. The guides are true wildlife experts with vast knowledge of the bush.
At the confluence of the Nwanetsi and Sweni rivers.
After a fabulous morning we return to the lodge for a late breakfast. We are being spoilt rotten by everyone who are so kind and friendly. Management throughout are young and pumped with enthusiasm and energy.
We inspect the luxury suites for the 48 max guests and they are beautiful. There is lots of glass giving unbroken views across the dam and onto the treed hills beyond. Which means lots of air conditioning to keep the rooms cool.
Incredibly the entire complex is solar powered and Warren takes us to the huge field lined with solar panels.
These feed into a bank of enormous Tesla batteries higher up the hill. This is 5 star deluxe. Air conditioned wine cellars, boutiques, swimming pools, curio shops and magnificent food and restaurants. It is absolutely remarkable how kind and hospitable everyone is but I suppose that it is their job to be. Grossing over R1 million/day, when the lodge is busy, is not nearly the staggering money spinner one would think.
The overheads are colossal – from vehicle and equipment maintenance to the 180 man staff, most of whom are high quality. What an operation and what a vast asset to the country. I do know that there are many who are appalled by something such as this existing in a wilderness but I am of the belief that something that generates so much income and employment for the country is the greatest safeguard to the survival of these reserves. Not even the most land hungry EFF would dare encroach into its space.
We are showered by kindness and pampered over at the breakfast table looking out over the hills. Actually there are two lodges within the same complex with only 300m separating them – The bigger Lebombo lodge and the Sweni Lodge.
At midday we bid Warren and the staff a fond and grateful farewell and drive quickly back to our caravan at Satara. And here the peasant in me comes out as we retire to our R150pp/night snug bed – just as comfortable as the R25,000pp/night at Singita. Different strokes for different okes – I know where I am happiest and that I am a peasant at heart.
After our nap, we make our way down to Nwanetsi (H6) but this evening the kites are really busy and I get some photos albeit in poor light. As we travel towards Warren’s quarters the full moon again rises over these magnificent grasslands. What an interesting day.