Pretty much any resort in Africa is going to offer guests a thrilling vacation escape. We loved every aspect of our time in Africa. Sadly, one of our favorite spots, &Beyond Xudum Okavango Delta Lodge, was completely destroyed by a bush fire this past May. I hope they rebuild, it was such a special place. Here you can read about two of our favorites from South Africa, the Forest Lodge at Grootbos down on the southern coast of and the &Beyond Ngala Tented Camp in Timbavati.
Once at the Forest Lodge at Grootbos, we met with an activity staff member and planned our stay, checked into our beautiful, private suite and enjoyed a relaxing lunch.
We have a lovely, very modern suite – set up like an apartment with separate living room, bedroom, two bathrooms and walls of glass windows overlooking the reserve and ocean. Dinner was a lovely multi-course, gourmet experience that included horseradish hummus, lentil & saffron soup, pork, and a white chocolate mousse for dessert. The meal was served with a special starter from the chef, palate cleanser sorbet between courses, and very unusual (but tasty) garnishes and sauces. Even my husband liked his tempura-style salmon and Thai soup.
From the Lodge there are all sorts of active outdoor activities and hikes and visitors are perfectly positioned for nearby adventure activities like cave exploring, whale watching in Hermanus, and White Shark viewing in Gansbaai.
&Beyond Ngala Tented Camp|Timbavati
The dusty airstrip in Ngala in about a half-hour away from the &Beyond Ngala Tented Camp and our Ranger was waiting for us when we landed.at the strip to meet us.
The ambiance at Ngala is incredible. The facilities are very elegant, upscale, permanently tented suites with full power, A/C and heat, no windows-just screens open to the elements and, of course, incredible gourmet meals. My husband can be a picky eater, but he even said: “I have nothing to complain about the food here, it is really good.”
Ngala borders Kruger National Park, and our camp with just a few permanent tented rooms is very laid-back with much more flexible schedules than many safari camps and a bigger focus on tracking. A lot more time here is spent waiting and watching – often, with great rewards.
Ngala means lion in the local Shangaan language and our safari drives lived up to the inferred promise. In fact, in 2019, the area is home to two rare white lion cubs many lucky guests have been able to spot.
The food was exceptional and they had no difficulty in producing gourmet fare for a vegetarian guest. At this camp, unlike some others, we shared meals with other guests (unless having a romantic dinner on your own) making for some lively, interesting conversation. We were the only Americans in a very international crowd.
On a typical morning drive, we turned a corner and there was the staff cooking a fabulous breakfast. Linens, glassware, champagne, yogurt/granola cups each with special nametags for us, and breakfast made to order – it was a dream.
It can get quite cold here at night and while we were at dinner, staff put down shades and drew drapes making guests extremely comfortable and cozy, tucked in the wonderful bedding with dual control electric blankets. We also had an outdoor, secluded shower in addition to the indoor bath with freestanding tub. Glamping at its finest.
The night sounds are amazing as the temps drop and many animals move around; we heard the lions roar, elephants trumpet, monkeys play, and many more sounds I am happy not to be able to ID.
While a few guests napped or hung out by the pool between safari rides, the staff made arrangements for us to visit a local school. The impeccable service and attention to detail continued until we went back to the dusty airstrip and boarded our next small plane.