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Pre Christmas self catering getaway to Lokuthula Lodges

We have never stayed there as a family and the idea of slow amble via Botswana with a couple of days in our favourite town before the mad Christmas rush was very appealing.

Getting there

We are not a family to rush things. We prefer to get the long journey over with and get across the border and then do shorter distances thereafter so we can take the time to enjoy the journey. Our route of choice to Zim is via Martinsdrif so KwaNokeng just inside the Botswana border was our first stop. We took one of the three air-conditioned family chalets which have large verandahs that overlook the Limpopo River. It’s a home from home and a great place to stop and get the Joburg out of us.

We had decided to stay at Elephant Sands for our second stop. It had been some years since we were last there and had read some good things on the 4x4 forums about the lodge. The temperatures were soaring as we arrived and it was apparent that there hadn’t been much rain as there were a tight knit group of ellies around the water hole or rather a water puddle that were not giving up for love or money.
It’s very obvious that the area around the lodge is taking a lot of strain from the elephants; all the trees have been flattened and each night the elephant wage an onslaught on the electricity cables and whatever else they decide. The night we stayed there a beach buggy that was parked alongside the reception was unceremoniously turned upside down during the night much to dismay of one of the lodge managers.

In addition to the chalets that we had stayed in before Elephant Sands now also offers tented accommodation, none of which have electricity, so if you are looking to keep a fridge with provisions cold, as we were, you have to take your fridge to the reception area to plug in and keep cold.

Would I come back? Mmm not so sure. Yes the elephants are great to see but their destruction and the lack of facilities at the lodge make the well run Nata Lodge a better option for an overnight stay.

We were amazed at how quick it was to get through the Kasane border. There have been some horror stories of late of long queues in the searing heat, but either due to increased efficiency or perhaps just the time of year when fewer people are travelling we were out of there in 30 minutes!

Lokuthula

Lokuthula Lodges lies within the grounds of the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge. There are two and three bedroomed chalets that have a fully kitted kitchen, a comfortable lounge and a verandah that leads into the garden furnished with a table and chairs on which to relax and enjoy a meal. Guests who don’t want to cook all their own meals can eat at the Saf Lodge restaurants or at one of the other hotels in town.

We chose to make full use of the facilities in our three bedroomed cottage and braai’d each night with the exception of one fabulous meal at The Boma restaurant. We did the full touristy thing and had our faces painted before joining in with the interactive drumming session.

The Lokuthula Lodges have their own dedicated swimming pool which are easy walk away from the cottages. We enjoyed many a relaxing afternoon combining “office work” via the lodge wifi and iPad with a refreshing swim. Other days were filled with a couple of fishing sessions, a high tea at The Victoria Falls Hotel and a trip into the Zambezi National Park to check out our chosen campsite for an upcoming camping trip.

Lounge and braai at Lokuthula

Heading home

After 5 glorious days it was time to head home. Instead of coming back home the way we came, we made our way to Bulawayo and then onto the Matobo Hills National Park. We were the only guests at the Matobo Hills Lodge and we were treated like gold! I had been there years before when Zim was in its tourist heyday and while the rooms are a bit jaded, we were made to feel special with attentive service and an excellent dinner. We spent the afternoon at Worlds View. The long walk up the gigantic rock hill where Cecil John Rhodes, Jameson Starr and others are buried is worth the effort.The vista is quite spectacular. For guests interested in San art there are some really good specimens in the park.

The worst came last. Beit Bridge is never a pleasure and this time on the South African side there was a new Ebola check that everyone needed to clear prior to clearing customs but true to form there was no signage. In addition, queues that are supposed to be dedicated to South Africans only were filled with all nationalities so there were delays and hot, grumbly people. I can't say it strongly enough - the Beit Bridge border needs to be sorted out - soon. It's a huge stumbling block to getting South Africans to do the once very popular self drive route through Zim and only the strong hearted are taking up the challenge. Our advice make sure you have all the paperwork you need to get yourself and your vehicle/ trailer through, put a hat on, take a pen, a bottle of water and arm yourself with patience and your sense of humour.

Madala's Cottage - the calm after Beit Bridge

The last night of any of Zimbabwe trip is traditionally spent at Madala’s Cottage on Zvakanaka farm, a gem of a place tucked away in the hills around Louis Trichardt. The cottage sleeps four people and is super well equipped. Gayle, the owner is an extremely thoughtful hostess who will put the TV on to the rugby game channel so you don’t miss a minute of the latest match and who stocks the kitchen with tea and coffee so you can literally have your first cuppa a minute after arriving, without having to delve around your own stash. You even get a small choccie to enjoy after your dinner! My favourite part of staying there has to be a luxuriating bubble bath in the secret garden off the main bedroom… a wonderfully self indulgent end to a long journey.

Author: Natalie Wood  

 

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