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Issue 2
Africa Travel> Issue 2
UPDATED: August 27, 2014
Where Bush and Luxury Meet
The Waterberg Estate offers the ultimate 5-star African bush experience
By Jo Kromberg

Elephant safari allows guests a close-up view of wildlife

The bush sounds were muted in the enveloping white fog, the air was pungent with "khaki" bush and the unusual green palate of the Lowveld took on an even more vibrant hue.

It was January as we travelled further through the late morning, the fog lifted to reveal the most unusual sights. Peering through the waves of mist emerged a mystical golf course, serene, yet bold, within the ambits of the African bush.

We were on a tour of the Waterberg Estate near Bela Bela in the Limpopo Province, South Africa, only about 3 hours drive from Johannesburg, and developer Tony Georgiou was showing me how a combined vision is manifesting itself in the world's first ever "biosphere" golf course.

Jonathan Stern, a U.S. property developer with business interests worldwide, first recognized the Waterberg area four years before as one of the best kept secrets for future development, not only within South Africa, but as an international destination with massive untapped potential. Stern and his U.S. based investment fund have been the primary financiers of the project to date, which has seen the assembly of 5,800 hectares of pristine bushveld, together with the rights to develop the property. In addition to a variety of residential options, the project also includes a spa, conference center, various bush lodges, tented camps, animal sanctuaries, nature trails and other lifestyle facilities. High up, on the top of the hill is the newly renovated self-catering camp, Eagles Camp. Eagles can sleep up to seven people and is only rented out as a unit on either a self-catering or accommodation only basis. The self-catering camp consists of two en-suite "split level" cottages, the communal kitchen and lapa, complete the circle.

The first golf course, Elements, a Peter Matkovich designed course voted best new course byGolf Digestmagazine a few years ago, is a must for the avid golfer. The second course is the Biosphere golf course, which, coupled with the nature trail, offers a unique marriage of golf and game.

For the traveller expecting a five-star African bush experience, this place certainly does not disappoint. The main lodge is cradled in the folds of a misty, pristine valley - too beautiful to describe. We were warmly greeted with a welcome drink and the service and attention throughout our stay was superb - personal without being invasive. A late reception, in the best of the 'high tea tradition', awaited us as well. The lounge area is really extraordinary. The decor is subdued - none of the ersatz African artifacts nowadays so often present in so-called African safari-establishments. There is a style and dignity throughout that pays homage to the true African spirit.

The theme and atmosphere in the luxurious chalets are repeated. The best of everything that can open and shut is available - from a discreet little bar fridge (with the best the liquor trade can offer), no TV for the guests who prefer perfect solitude (you may hire a TV if the urge becomes too great) to an outdoor-shower where you can hear the birds serenade.

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