Guests per Safari Vehicle
With its spectacular hilltop location Tshukudu Bush Lodge takes a bit of effort to reach, but the views out over a waterhole and across the vast savannah that greet you make it all worthwhile. The winding 132-step path up the hillside will certainly get the heart pumping, so perhaps there should be a health warning against the jaw-dropping views as they serve to further take your breath away!
All of the other accommodation options within the Pilanesberg reserve tend to be of the large “bush hotel” variety, so Tshukudu with its 10 rooms is a far more intimate, boutique affair which really sets up well as an ideal romantic getaway for couples (no children under 12 are allowed) There are 2 different room types - 6 Luxury Cottages and 4 newly built Tshukudu Suites – all of offer luxurious and elegant spaces perfect to laze the mornings and evenings away with your significant other. Whatever your room choice, both offer spectacular views from decks that look out upon the plain below with its active waterhole.
The Luxury Cottages are a cosy delight. A comfy double bed sits at the end of an open plan lounge that features an iron fireplace showcased against the natural rock feature wall (perfect for those chilly winter evenings!) a selection of books and magazines, and a fully-stocked minibar so you don’t have to make your way to the bar every time you fancy a drink. A private balcony sits at the edge of the cottage, the ideal spot for a glass of bubbles to celebrate the end of another beautiful day whilst admiring the view. The calling card of the rooms though has to be the deep sunken bath sitting with a panoramic window view out to the waterhole and plains below – and hey, champagne tastes even better when you’re reclining in steaming hot water with a view on the wildlife below!
Our choice though has to be the 4 much newer Tshukudu Suites. These keep the same basic recipe that has made Tshukudu’s Cottages such favourites already (the fireplace, bath with a view, stone feature walls) but makes it roomier and adds a larger private deck complete with your own plunge pool (heated so using it isn’t just restricted to the summer months) and a gorgeous outdoor shower! As in the cottages, in the centre of the room is the pièce de résistance: the crystal chandelier, sending gleams of light around the room.
Whilst the lodge’s waterhole is active and the lodge’s location gorgeously private, no doubt you’ll want to head out on game drive too. You do need to be aware that the game drives through Pilanesberg National Park do take place on the reserve’s public roads so it’s obviously a less exclusive experience than in the various private reserves and off-roading is not allowed. The reserve is home to the Big Five (leopard can be pretty tough to spot as always) not to mention a myriad other species as the Pilanesberg lies in the transition zone between the drier Kalahari to the west and the comparatively wetter Lowveld to the east. The rangers here know their stuff too, so the game drives are usually pretty rewarding.
But it’s back at the lodge that Tshukudu truly shines. High above the rest of the lodge, the aptly titled “Nest” grants her guests an unrivalled vantage point over the rolling savannah of the Pilanesberg. Here, you and your partner can organise private candle-lit dinners or delicious lunches to take a break from the rigours of the day and just enjoy this special place together. Otherwise, enjoy a meal with your fellow guests at the large dining table where you can swap stories on the day’s sightings. The food at Tshukudu, by the way, gets consistently excellent reviews, so it’s perhaps a good thing that you’ve got those steps to negotiate to and from your room to keep the waistline from expanding too much!
Next door to the famous leisure and entertainment resort of Sun City, is the Pilanesberg National Park.
It may not be very large (550km²) compared to Kruger or some of the other great African parks, but it has a real wilderness feel to it and most of the big animals you could wish to see. It lies amongst the only significant hills in the area which rise skywards out of the flat highveld plain. This massif is a 1,200 million-year-old volcanic relic of four concentric mountain rings.
The Pilanesberg is the highest peak towering 600 metres above Mankwe Lake, which sits in the heart of the ancient volcano. The volcano's circular bowl was recognised as being the perfect situation for a national park with its tall sides creating natural boundaries. The area was farmed until 1979 until Operation Genesis was launched to rehabilitate the land and stock it with game. This was one of the most imaginative game-stocking enterprises ever undertaken and the Pilanesberg became a great success story.
This park is home to good populations of a whole range of Africa's game, including the 'Big Five'; elephants, black and white rhinoceros, buffaloes, lions and leopards and you will also see giraffes, zebras, hippos and a wide variety of antelopes including the very attractive sable, eland, kudu and gemsbok. There are also cheetahs and hyenas and jackal. Birdlife is good with over 300 species and bird lovers will be interested in the huge stroll-through aviary at the Manyane gate. Also, in this area is a 'vulture restaurant' - created to help save the shy and endangered Cape vulture from regional extinction.
Johannesburg - OR Tambo International
2.5 hours from Johannesburg
2 hours, 50 mins from Johannesburg, OR Tambo
Tshukudu Bush Lodge, Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa