Issue 32
Step into the Wild
Tambuti Lodge in South Africa's northwest Pilanesberg is a stay to remember with enough wildlife to satisfy even the most demanding visitor
By Jo Kromberg  ·  2017-01-05  ·   Source:
Brian McFadden from boyband Westlife tees off at the Gary Player Invitational Golf Tournament at Sun City (Photos by Danie van Gass)

Almost $300,000 in three days. That is the amount the Gary Player Invitational Golf Tournament raised for children in need during November 2016 at the Palace of the Lost City golf course at Sun City in South Africa. Usually charity events are marked by certain solemnness but not this one.

Celebrities like Brian McFadden from the erstwhile boy band Westlife was there and much revelry was had by all as wealthy businessmen, who paid for the privilege of playing golf with some of the top names in sport globally, took to the course.

After said fun and merriment we sought refuge for the night at the most charming lodge in the vicinity.

Forest hideaway

Located only 33 km from Sun City, Tambuti Lodge is a relatively new lodge that has effortlessly leapt to the top of my list of favourite lodges in the Pilanesberg - barely two hours away from Johannesburg in the North West province of South Africa. With just five absolutely gorgeous suites set within a tamboti tree forest, this is a hugely romantic and secluded spot which renders an authentic bushveld experience.

The Lodge is named after an African tree of the spurge family, (with scented timber and caustic sap) and is situated in the Black Rhino Private Reserve, a small reserve on the northwest border of the Pilanesberg reserve - however there are no fences between the two pieces of land and the lodge's vehicles are able to traverse both properties, including on non-public roads within the main park. You therefore get the benefit of the Big-Five up very close and personal!

Perfect place to chill out at Tambuti Lodge

The cicadas (locusts) go ballistic in the searing heat as we drive through the gates at about 3:30 p.m. on this mid-summer day. Soft white clouds billow in the vast blue sky but the rain stays away. "Welcome!" says manager and host Sarah with a beaming smile as we alight and thankfully grab the ice cold towels and gulp down equally refreshing welcome drinks. Smiles abound here from all and sundry and you really do feel at home from the moment you enter the fabulous air-conditioned interior. Tambuti Lodge offers contemporary elegance combined with the ultimate in safari luxury and the décor is a sophisticated yet rustic mix of African design and elegant, understated luxury.

Unfortunately we are too late to join the game drive but on the other hand we are almost giddy with the thought of having this beautiful place all to ourselves for a couple of hours. Sarah shows us to our rooms and gives us a quick orientation.

Personal experience

There are just five luxury suites at Tambuti so you're guaranteed a very personal experience. The suites here are fabulous and perfectly fuse the earthy background color palette and building materials with contemporary décor touches, fabrics and accent colors to really lift the rooms' aesthetic appeal way above the norm - the result is rooms that are classy and elegant yet bang-up-to-date!

The romantic suites are surrounded by striking tamboti trees and you can relax on your private viewing deck with a good book whilst enjoying views into the surrounding bush. All of the suites are large and spacious with quality bedding and linen and feature beautifully appointed luxury en-suite bathrooms with indoor and outdoor showers as well as twin vanities. The five suites are comprised of two pool view suites (named Hippo and Zebra) as well as two bush view suites, Lion and Elephant which we called home for the night. Then there's a gorgeous honeymoon suite (called Rhino) which adds a Jacuzzi on your private deck which overlooks the tamboti trees. Each suite has the traditional thatched roof and combines this with modern finishes and contemporary décor.

Awesome bedroom at Tambuti Lodge

But it is the small and exclusive part of this Lodge I like the best and we laze about at the pool for the remainder of the afternoon, helping ourselves to refreshing gin and tonics from the bar, as one does in Africa. Drinks are included in the price and even though the staff will bend over backwards for their guests, it is the homey, help-yourself feel of the place that really makes it feel like your very own very grand home.

Later we have a chat with Sarah. Apart from being an excellent hostess,

The game viewing here doesn't disappoint either. Up at the crack of dawn the next morning, we head out in search of the Big-Five. The area around the lodge is characterized by a huge number of tamboti trees which results in regular sightings of the shy and scarce black rhino. These trees also play host to an incredibly wide variety of bird species thus making the area a birding paradise. The reserve is positioned between the dry Kalahari and the wetter Lowveld so you get a mix of game, tree and bird species that would never be found cohabiting in another area. Because of this the species here are incredibly varied and unique from other reserves within Southern Africa - in fact it's home to over 354 different animal species native to Southern Africa, including the Big-Five of course, the endangered wild dog and other rarer species such as Roan, Tsessebe and Sable antelope.

We spot a pride of lion feasting on the carcass of a wildebeest - the smell is awful but the sight incredible. We also get caught up between a heard of buffalo and see countless of beautiful bird species and antelope.

Our ranger Brad's ability to spot wildlife is uncanny and his knowledge encyclopaedic.

We sadly say goodbye later after breakfast but this very special place will definitely see us again!



Drive Time

2.5 hours from Johannesburg, South Africa




2 suites boast pool views and 3 suites boast bushveld views


5 Suites - 4 suites and 1 honeymoon suite




Yes - and private Jacuzzi in honeymoon suite



Camp Fenced



No - only ranger

Off- Road


Child Policy

No children under 6

Getting there:

Air China outbound flights to Johannesburg in South Africa operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, with return services from Johannesburg offered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Flights will depart from Beijing at 23:15 Beijing time, and arrive in Johannesburg at 7:35 local time on the following day. The inbound flight departs from Johannesburg at 11:50 local time and arrives in Beijing at 7:30 Beijing time.

From Johannesburg we suggest you rent a car to Pilansberg from any of the many reputable car hire companies at the airport.

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