10 of Hazyview’s best Lowveld locations

Posted by Pippa de Bruyn on 10 December 2019

Tucked between mountains and bush, this is the very heart of the Lowveld, where six roads converge. It’s no mere stopover, though, with many places well worth lingering for a while.

Submerge yourself in the attractions of Tanamera – from this vantage point there’s no need to go anywhere

1. Best Romantic Breakaway

Summerfields Retreat
TripAdvisor No. 2 of 13 Hotels in Hazyview

Pass the gin bar overlooking the dam as the sun starts its descent, the geese honking their way into the water, and trundle down the dirt track leading through the macadamia and litchi orchards. Here two porters await to escort you – past the ‘no children under 12’ sign, onto a boardwalk winding under a canopy of trees, to your luxurious tent with its glorious open-air bath and shower. Splay out on the daybed, listen to the birdsong and the gurgling Sabie River, and tell me you don’t feel like high-fiving.

Aside from the stellar location, the design ethos throughout the retreat is spot on, with a rustic-chic bar cantilevered above the sandy riverbank and the most marvellous spa facilities. The River Café, now in a newly built, large glass conservatory, serves very good grub (I highly recommend the vegetarian curry) next to a blazing fire. This is not a one-night stop, nor just a base for Kruger, but a destination in its own right and worth every cent.

Room Tip I’d change my leave dates in order to book a river-facing tent (1 to 6, with No. 1 closest to the main lodge), both for the views and soothing lullaby of the river.

Cost From R2,097 per person sharing B&B.

Contact 013-737-6500, summerfields.co.za

2. Best Hotel

Perry’s Bridge Hollow
TripAdvisor No. 1 of 13 Hotels in Hazyview

This is the slickest offering in the Seasons in Africa portfolio, with rooms in single-storey blocks arranged terrace-like in immaculately maintained gardens. There’s plenty of bling at the reception desk, proving that others also rate this the best of the ‘Hollow’ properties (nearby Hippo Hollow is also good but more geared to groups). The beaming, welcoming staff are clearly very proud of the accolades.

On the edge of Hazyview town, behind a low-key retail complex, this will suit those who want quick access to Kruger (15 minutes’ drive away) as well as on-foot access to a dose of retail therapy at Perry’s Bridge Trading Post and a choice of independent restaurants (though it’s worth noting that in-house Kuka is very good). The pool is lovely, the gardens a pleasure. If you prefer and are willing to pay for hotel services, this is definitely the top choice.

Room Tip Rooms 22 to 26 have shaded verandas with unobstructed views of the pool area; 27 to 30, behind a bit of shrubbery, are also good picks. There are three larger family rooms too.

Cost R2,000 per person sharing B&B (although I found a room for R1,174 per person online).

Contact 013-737-7752, perrysbridgehollow.co.za

3. Best View

TripAdvisor No. 2 of 54 Specialty Lodgings in Hazyview

Vying with Summerfields (see opposite page) as the region’s most romantic bolthole, Tanamara will suit those who prefer walls to canvas and are more impressed with bird’s-eye views.

Perched high above the Sabie River gorge, the units are also more traditionally luxurious. Each is the size of a small cottage, with an open fireplace and dining for two (all of your meals can be served in-room), large stone bath, indoor and outdoor walk-in showers.

The deck is on stilts and there’s a plunge pool overlooking lush indigenous forest cleaved by the distant, glistening ribbon of the Sabie River. Each unit is visually private yet fairly close to each other, linked by a meandering boardwalk to the main lodge. Like Summerfields, this is a destination lodge, not a base for Kruger; the open-plan lounge-bar-dining room, offering the same fabulous view, is as cosy and inviting as the rooms.

Room Tip  Book one of the four Luxury River View suites (No. 2 is closest to the main lodge). The Honeymoon suites are bigger, but the luxury suites are exactly that – large and decadent.

Cost From R2,450 per person sharing DBB.

Contact 082-456-9799, tanamera.co.za

4. Most Authentic

Böhm’s Zeederberg Country House
TripAdvisor No. 12 of 25 B&Bs/Inns in Sabie

Having purchased a prime piece of land on the highest part of the ridge overlooking the Sabie Valley, the Böhms were one of the first to open a lodge in the area, welcoming their first guests in 1975. Management is now in the hands of daughter Renate Gerdes (also a qualified tour guide), and she has chosen to leave the guest house relatively unchanged.

As a result, the atmosphere is authentic old-school, with solid timber furniture, plenty of arches and crazy paving, and a fabulous feature fireplace – all reminiscent of a classic East African safari lodge.

Guests stay in the bird-filled garden, in cottages strategically placed to make the most of the views, each quite different in character. Rooms are spacious and neat, and sleep up to four; I didn’t like the Trellidoors on every deck (a precaution, I was told – no incident has taken place). It could do with a few subtle upgrades, but hopefully the core character of this charming place will remain.

Room Tip Ask for No. 5, and if not that, then 15; these are freestanding so more private (most of the cottages are semi-detached) and each has a veranda with lovely views.

Cost  From R800 per person sharing B&B, and look out for specials.

Contact 013-737-8101, bohms.co.za

5. Best Glamping

Africamps at Mackers
TripAdvisor No. 8 of 54 Speciality Lodgings in Hazyview

I’ve recommended a few Africamps but I think this latest one – their first outside the Western Cape – is by far the best, thanks in no small part to a fabulous location, right on the banks of the Sabie River. Bookended by natural vegetation, the 10 tents are strung along the river, each identical and following the classic Africamps layout: at the back, two bedrooms are divided by canvas (each with a double bed, one with a single bunk above) sharing a bathroom, and in front a spacious open-plan living area with well-equipped kitchen warmed by a wood-burning fireplace.

The tents open onto a large outdoor deck and braai spot. In Hazyview, they’ve added built-in sofas on the deck to enjoy the river views. There’s a great pool area on the property, and a fabulous convenience store stocked with everything you need should you arrive empty-handed.

Room Tip Tents 1 and 10 are the most private; No. 1 is closest to a calm, slow-flowing part of the river.

Cost From R595 per person for two, then R250 per person thereafter (or R125 per child).

Contact 021-300-5694, africamps.com

6. Best All Round

Ashbourne Country Escape
TripAdvisor No. 3 of 33 B&Bs/Inns in Hazyview

‘Whenever Dawne wakes me up with the words, “You know, I’ve been thinking…” my heart sinks,’ says Rob Topham with a twinkle in his eye. Inveterate creators, this is what retirement should look like – even the website struggles to keep up with their additions, and their Country Escape just gets more alluring.

There’s now a lovely bar area and terrace in addition to the original dining room, and a choice of nine units (four self-catering, each with its own plunge pool. That said, it’s hard to tell what’s new: every wall is old-style thick and clad in stones found on the farm; windows and doors are steel-framed and cottage-paned, so the buildings feel rooted, part and parcel of the original farmhouse. Interiors are spacious, cool, elegant. The location on a hilltop affords classic views of the valleys and hazy mountainscapes. Then there’s the warmth and generosity of the hosts and their staff. Truly, a very special place.

Room Tip For self-catering, Mountain View 9 (sleeps two) hits the sweet spot, with a pool, deep L-shaped stoep with a braai, and views through every window. Of the B&B rooms, the Balcony Suite is the one to book.

Cost Self-catering from R1,100 per person sharing. B&B from R1 050 pp sharing.

Contact 082-367-0327, ashbournescape.co.za

7. Best Bargains

Hamilton Parks & Rissington Inn
TripAdvisor No. 1 of 4 Speciality Lodgings in Kiepersol; and No. 8 of 33 B&Bs/Inns in Hazyview

A wonderful laid-back atmosphere permeates these two charming options, located 15 minutes apart. Both are classic, thatched Lowveld lodges with hands-on owners living on the premises, supported by hand-picked staff.

Of the two, Rissington Inn (above right) is the more luxurious. Owner Chris Harvie is a marvellous raconteur, runs an impeccable ship, and his restaurant is one of the best in Hazyview – hardly surprising that his inn is almost always full. Enjoying a more off-the-beaten-track location, Hamilton Parks (above left) is a solid three-star safari inn, with semi-detached rooms in separate blocks (sleeping up to four), each with a little terrace overlooking the garden.

Owners Lyn and Kurt Mulder offer braai facilities for guests – unusual in a catered lodge, but part of what makes this such a homely experience.

Room Tip Rissington Inn’s Budget rooms are anything but in terms of facilities, so grab one of these if they’re available. At Hamilton Parks I liked standard rooms 11 to 15 – ranged at the front, they enjoy an unobstructed view and come with a fireplace.

Cost Both options from R580 per person sharing B&B.

Contact 082-836-7360, hamiltonparks.com 013-737-7700, rissington.co.za

Worth A Look

8. Timamoon This lodge’s romantic, rather exotic and decadently dressed villas enjoy stunning views, and each has a plunge pool and fireplace. It’s more private than Tanamera next door, but note that you have to drive to the restaurant for meals. From R2 ,400 per person sharing DBB. timamoonlodge.co.za

9. Kruger Park Lodge A collection of well-maintained self- catering houses in sprawling grounds on the outskirts of Hazyview, some with pools but all share resort-like lodge facilities, and offering good value: from one-bed timeshare units (from R505 per person sharing) to four-bedroom units (from R5, 140 sleeping eight). You can hire from owners but for 24/7 service and support, contact the central booking office at the lodge. krugerparklodge.co.za

10. Thulamela B&B This little gem is just off the R40 but feels like a bush getaway. It has six timber cottages privately located and surrounded by indigenous foliage, each with a spa-bath sunk in the deck (pictured right), cute braai area, a hammock, well-stocked fridge and kitchenette. Expect lovely luxury touches such as scattered rose petals and candles, a fabulous breakfast served in-room, and the option of pre-ordering everything you need for a braai. No under-16s. From R990 per person sharing B&B. thulamela.co.za

By Pippa de Bryn, Photographs by Jotham van Tonder

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