Some photos make you want to be in the picture at this very moment and this is one of them. Read what writer Fiona Zerbst has to say about Khaya Ndlovu, a private lodge near Kruger………
Four-star Khaya Ndlovu Manor House, reclining in the bushveld close to Hoedspruit, just happens to be the family seat of leisure property developer Trevor Jordan.
Jordon’s property portfolio is impressive – Thornybush Private Game Reserve and its lodges; Raptors View Wildlife Estate; Leadwood Wildlife Estate; and other developments in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Mozambique – so it’s safe to say that Jordan knows a good site when he sees one.
Khaya Ndlovu (‘home of the elephant’ in Sepedi) is just a short drive from Hoedspruit’s rustic but bustling airport. Close enough to ‘civilisation’ to be accessible, while at the same time, when you’re on the property, feeling like you’re deep in the bush. It stretches out for ever, towards the distant Drakensberg – the northern range creating a dramatic backdrop. This is part of the 15,000 hectare Blue Canyon Conservancy, which Jordan established by converting 10 separated farms into one huge private game reserve for four of the Big Five (no buffalo here).
Jordan still has a room at Khaya Ndlovu, which sells as a luxury suite when he’s not in town. But the personal touch is evident with photographs of his prize-winning racehorses and his cat Jezebel comes to say hello when we arrive. Jordan’s son Patrick fetches me at the airport and talks passionately about rhino conservation – both father and son are deeply involved in saving rhino and turning this part of Limpopo into a wildlife paradise. In fact, when we arrive, I see footage of a leopard at the watering hole in front of the lodge who was caught on infrared camera.
The Manor House is a five-bedroom guesthouse with a rim-flow pool overlooking the watering hole, or you can choose to stay in a cottage instead. The Acacia Family Rooms cater to those with kids, while the Leadwood Honeymoon Suite has all the luxurious touches you’d expect, including a private glass-walled en-suite bathroom with spa bath. The Jackalberry and Marula rooms look out over manicured lawns – don’t get a fright if you see a large kudu grazing, he’s taken to jumping the fence, much to the gardener’s despair.
Décor is understated, with a touch of opulence; browns, golds, dark wood and natural stone are dominant, as are mirrors creating a cool yet romantic feel. Rugs, animal skins and framed artwork add warmth and there are a few unique pieces of furniture that appear to be have been collected from around Africa.
You’re guaranteed a measure of privacy and you’re also not rushed, so if you’re not ready for a game drive, you won’t miss it – Mike Lawrie, the husband of Manager Ronel, will arrange to take you at a convenient time. There’s an unhurried, unpretentious air here, which meant that in a few short hours I felt myself relaxing.
After a cappuccino on the veranda (Nkosi Moyo makes the most wonderful cappuccinos), we head off into the bush. And there’s a lot of it! The conservancy is packed with animals and Khaya Ndlovu’s not even an hour’s drive from Kruger’s Orpen gate, so it’s a great access point to Kruger for a day trip. In the morning, we had the good fortunate to come across a lioness with her kill (a wildebeest). She and her grown-up cubs were either feasting or lying in a post-dining stupour, which meant great photo ops.
Because Khaya Ndlovu is that little bit private, elegantly set apart, you won’t be surrounded by tourists waiting to catch the next ride to somewhere else. The lodge is for those who enjoy holidaying at their own pace. Meals are top-notch, and chefs Elvis Mnisi and Lindewe Ntuli aren’t afraid to experiment with their set menus, to great success. You can specify dietary requirements beforehand.
Tel: 015 793 0605; 073 301 1913.