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Wanderlust Wonders

Travel is more than the destination, more than what can be captured in a photograph. Three local luxury lodges offer that elusive ability to stir the soul.

One of the most pleasurable and often exciting activities we as humans pursue is to travel. While we’re inundated on where we should travel to, there’s less on why we travel. What is the point of it? In The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton explores this uniquely human phenomenon. “Travel agents would be wiser to ask us what we hope to change about our lives rather than simply where we wish to go,” he suggests.
For many, travel is to escape, get away from the monotony of daily life but also to escape ourselves – those strung out, overwrought versions of ourselves we know we aren’t really like if only we were transported onto a tropical island. Our travel selves are far more interesting – adventurous, spontaneous and energised as we stand staring in awe at the unexpected scene before us: that snow-capped peak, the quaint barber shop down an ancient cobbled road.
De Botton says travel puts us in our rightful place, placing our own lives and problems into clearer perspective. “See how small you are next to the mountains. Accept what is bigger than you and what you do not understand. Our life is not the measure of all things: consider sublime places a reminder of human insignificance and frailty,” he writes.
In South Africa there is no shortage of unique and sublime destinations to put us in our rightful place when the urge to travel bites. One such family owned-and-run hotel group, The Hunter Hotels, offers three unique establishments set in dramatic locations offering the discerning traveller a memorable travel experience.

Tsala Treetop Lodge
Inspired by ancient African ruins, the exclusive Tsala Treetop Lodge is tucked within the canopy of a pristine indigenous forest along the much loved Garden route. Arriving at Tsala is an awe-inspiring experience. The majestic stonemasonry of the entrance gives way to an extravagant structure of timber and glass that looks down on age-old trees and out across rolling hills and valleys. It is impossible not to be impressed.
Leaving the main lodge, a wooden boardwalk meanders through the lush forest to take you to your private suite perched on a cliff edge overlooking the valley below. The experience is of entering a luxurious treehouse. The fully equipped open plan kitchen and dining area with well stocked bar invite a feeling of being at home, while the lounge-area with fireplace allows for lazy afternoons spent watching vervet monkeys and listening to the sounds of birdlife in the surrounding trees. Outside you can enjoy a coffee on the verandah overlooking the forest or take a dip in your own private infinity pool while sipping on a G&T.
Meals at Tsala are beautifully presented using sustainably sourced ingredients to produce culinary excellence to be enjoyed in the glass walled dining room. Guests staying at the lodge also have access to the yoga and pilates studio, a gym, swimming pool as well as in-room pamper treatments.
Without leaving the grounds you can take a stroll through the pristine gardens (tended to by the owner who still lives on the property) and if you’re lucky spot a bushbuck, or take an easy walk to one of South Africa’s award winning restaurants, Zinzi, also on this beautiful property.




Hunter’s Country House
On the same property as Tsala, another of the Hunter Hotel Group’s establishments can be enjoyed. Here, the original farm manor house where the Hunter Hotel owners first lived has been transformed into Hunter’s Country House, a beautiful hotel with an air of gracious elegance. One of the first things you’ll notice about Hunter’s is the sense of being at home, starting as you drive through the beautiful gardens abundant with flowers and butterflies. On arrival staff are welcoming and service  is impeccable.
A combination of thatched and unthatched rooms and suites are tastefully decorated and privately positioned in a tranquil garden setting lending itself to calm and relaxation.
Like Tsala, Hunter’s Country House has its own beautifully appointed restaurant as well as easy access to the spectacular Zinzi restaurant. There’s also a large pool with loungers as well as the gym, yoga studio and library with a fireplace. This is the most family-friendly of the three Hunter establishments with a cubs corner and babysitting facilities. Being situated close to Plettenberg bay and Knysna, the Garden Route offers a range of its own gems such as quad biking, elephant sanctuaries, as well as golden beaches, vast lagoons and lush indigenous forests.




Gorah Elephant Camp
The thrill of watching a herd of elephant stroll by while enjoying a sumptuous high tea on the verandah of a stately colonial manor house must be the quintessential safari experience. Situated in the Addo Elephant Park, this exclusive tented safari lodge overlooking a waterhole captures the romanticism of the original and authentic safari of the 1900’s.
Home to the Big Five, the Addo National Park, situated in the malaria-free zone of the Eastern Cape, has the highest density of elephant on earth. Game drives at Gorah, expertly led by professional guides, take you through beautiful landscapes and allow guests the privilege of being up close to these gentle giants where you can witness fascinating social family interactions between different herds. Gorah also offers the unique experience of an early morning mongoose sighting where, leaving your game vehicle, you can sit at sunrise right next to a mongoose den and see these small creatures climb out to bask in the first rays of sunlight. This rare opportunity has been made possible by the rangers who, during Covid, spent hours sitting near the dens to patiently garner the mongooses trust to acclimatise them to people.
Gorah is a self-sufficient property, primarily driven by solar power and gas. Reminiscent of a bygone era, dinner at Gorah is a candle-lit affair in the main manor house restored to its 19th century Colonial splendour and declared a National Monument. The three-course meal is enjoyed off fine china and silverware and wine is sipped from crystal. At night back in your tent you can enjoy the 5-star treatment of bathrobes and slippers, bespoke body products, a turndown ritual and complimentary sherry before falling asleep to the nighttime sounds of hyena and jackal.



by Susan Newham-Blake

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