57 Waterberg: An intimate & romantic getaway in the South African bush
Fifty Seven Waterberg is a five-star lodge situated in the malaria-free Welgevonden Game Reserve - an area of approximately 37,000 hectares which forms part of a UNESCO declared biosphere. This beautiful region is often referred to as "South Africa's most accessible luxury reserve," thanks to an easy 3 hour drive from Johannesburg. However, Welgevonden is definitely not a mainstream safari destination, as there are strict visitor limitations in place. No private vehicles are allowed in the park, and to experience a safari here you must be staying at one of the few private game lodges, most of which are restricted to a maximum of 10 guests.
At Fifty Seven Waterberg there are 5 extra large individual suites, each complete with a huge private veranda which offers breathtaking vistas of the lush bushveld (this is also the perfect spot for stargazing). Apart from a comfortable king size bed, the thoughtfully decorated space brags a separate dressing room and full bathroom, as well as a gas fireplace for those cold winter nights. It literally is your own exclusive escape - the chalets are cleverly positioned and separated by thick foliage, making it seem like you're all by yourself.
Winding wooden walkways connect the secluded rooms to the main lodge, a thatched building which blends in perfectly with the surrounding scenery. Its expansive sundeck makes the most of the scenic panoramas, and an alluring infinite pool bordered by comfortable loungers and cabanas invites you to unwind whilst taking in the natural beauty around you.
Inside, the cozy TV lounge and bar area, adequately overlooked by different antelope trophies, provide a relaxing space for drinks and an intimate tête-à-tête. The huge double volume space, which is part of the main entrance/ reception, is connected to the homely dining section. Meals are also served outside on the patio, or for that special romantic atmosphere you can dine under the stars next to the stone clad open firepit in a traditional 'boma' or enclosure.
Professionally escorted game drives take place twice daily - at sunrise and in the late afternoon until sunset. During this time wildlife is most active, and the lodge's expert guides are keen to share their extensive knowledge on the region's fauna and flora. Organized communications between the different guides operating in the park ensure the best viewing opportunities and encounters on these memorable excursions.
For me, the only regret was the rather unimaginative cuisine. Even though this may be a logistical challenge, with meticulous planning and efficient management, a sustainable solution can certainly be found. I believe that a place as unique as this has a perfect opportunity to further reflect its authenticity by serving food that is not just delicious, but also an extension of its ethos.
Overall, 57 Waterberg is an ideal getaway for those who seek the wild solitude of unspoilt nature, and rare opportunity to observe abundant wildlife in its undisturbed habitat.
*I was kindly invited by the lodge to review, and my stay was complimentary.
All photos and opinions are mine © Traverate