Nedile Lodge Overview:
Game Experience: Riaan the Ranger’s party trick is finding lion and leopard in 38,000 hectares of Big Five reserve.
Decor: It doesn’t get more traditional safari than this; wood, stone, thatch and African artefacts harmoniously combined in tones of brown.
Food: Delicious dinners with local game meats a speciality, but unmemorable lunches.
Extras: one of the best views in the reserve is from the enticing rock swimming pool
The view from Nedile lodge is fantastic. From every room, deck and even the swimming pool, you look across the top of about twenty rolling hills that disappear into a far distance. This feels like a million miles from civilization because there are no other lights to be seen in the dead of night. In reality, it’s a mere morning’s drive from Johannesburg in the Welgevonden Game Reserve of the Waterberg Mountains.
This is Big Five game country, but such is the thickness of the bush, the rockiness of the terrain and the height of the grass, that finding them can be tricky. I sometimes talk about ‘soft safari’ where the animals are almost guaranteed, well this is ‘hard safari’, where searching for the animals and the anticipation this creates, is part of the process. This means that when you see a herd of elephant or some antelopes leaping across the track, an elegant giraffe wrapping its tongue around acacia thorn branches or a white rhino and calf, it’s a treat. One thing you are sure to see are ubiquitous impala – the most successful animal in the bush – and warthog families snufflin in the earth. These handsome piggies usually nibble the grass on their knees because their short neck is a design flaw and they can’t quite reach the ground. I adore I these little critters.
If you get to see lion and leopard then you are really lucky, and this is where Riaan the Ranger comes in. So confident is he of his ability to find them, that I heard him say “I guarantee I will find you a lion.” One rule of guiding is never to guarantee anything, it’s daft to do so, but to his credit, he did find the lion, so he didn’t have to eat his words (he would have been at it all day, since words are one thing Riaan is not short of).
But you don’t need to dash around at Nedile, it’s more of a chill out and look at the view kind of place. Or go for a game walk under the guidance of, yes you guessed it…Riaan. He is extremely knowledgeable and will reveal a whole lot of small fascinating things.
The use of thatch, stone, wood and cement screed floors, artefacts and animal reference books, help to set you firmly on safari in Africa at Nedile Lodge. The dark brown tones of fabrics, wood, wicker and floors, along with dimmed lighting give the interiors a heaviness that is offset by the bright sunshine outside and the multi-faceted greens and golds of leafy shrubs and grasslands. The wet summer months attract masses of migratory birds many of whom are so bright in colouration that only nature would think of putting lilac, blue, orange, white and green all in one creature.
Nedile Lodge is intimate with just five rooms organically position on a sunny north facing slope around red-rock boulders and fig trees. You get to know your fellow guests fairly well here and everyone is very nice, while the staff are remarkably unmemorable. I didn’t feel that I got to know any of the staff as no personalities shone through, except Riaan of course.
Christo is the Lodge Manager, who my companion and I unkindly decided would look fab as Dr. Frank-N-Furter in Rocky Horror-style fishnet stockings (because of his height, palour and resemblance to Tim Curry). I’m not sure how this image came about, but it could have had something to do with Christo mentioning the 4-metre black mamba that had been seen around the rocks, and me imagining him with it strung around his shoulders. As it happens, it was Riaan that produced such a photograph at dinner (no kidding), with him proudly holding the most enormous python I have ever seen. It seems the reason we were not party to any boma dinners around the fire at Nedile was because of the black mamba, who had been reducing the population of little dassies (guinea pig like creatures) that live amongst the rocks.
It was mid-winter and mamba would no doubt be curled up feeling the chill like I was, because although there was a mohair blanket on the bed, there was no duvet to snuggle into, so I asked and received another few blankets which I piled over me.
My chilly toes did come across a very welcome hot water bottle secreted into my bed and once I asked for the fire to be lit it roared into life and I drifted into sleep watching glowing coals and wondering why fire was the colour orange. I never came to a conclusion, so do please tell me.