Meandering along the pathway to my room at Forest Lodge/Forest Villas at St Lucia Village in KwaZulu-Natal, I was expecting to hear the screech of a macaw or that of a raucous parrot. The gardens are reminiscent of a lush sub-tropical jungle, so maybe a jaguar might peer out of the undergrowth. Of course, this being Africa, and not South America, a jaguar was definitely not going to make a snarling entrance still, flights of fancy heighten the senses.
A gorgeous open-plan lounge overlooks a swimming pool. At night, gently-glowing purple lights add to the mystery of the scene. Climbing a wooden staircase to another deck reveals another pool.
The lounge is so gorgeous, I sat there for some time after dinner, and had coffee there early the next morning. The place is addictive.
Visitors need not worry about being expected to sling a hammock between the trees. When the time comes to bed down for the night, comfortable mattresses beckon invitingly. Forest Lodge and Forest Villas, which adjoin each other, are relatively new on the market, so everything still has that crisp, fresh feel about it.
Each room has all the amenities expected by the traveler - aircon for humid days and nights, bar fridge, large television set and a gorgeous bathroom.
What is particularly pleasant is that visitors have the option of finding themselves taking breakfast in one of two breakfast rooms. Dinner is served in the exotic sounding “A Taste of Forest” restaurant.
The chef had only recently joined the staff, so he was eager to impress with his set menu. This meant we happily dined for some hours.
There were several foreigners staying there, so the continental breakfast was more than adequate. The yoghurt was topped with dozens of fresh strawberries, but there were plenty more of those on a large platter of fresh fruit, along with lots of cold cuts and a variety of cheeses. If you prefer a cooked breakfast to set you up for the day, that’s also available.
Some people choose to dine out in one of the village’s many restaurants, several of which are within walking distance of the lodge. Still, there are those nightly wanderings the local hippos like to take, so maybe at night it’s best to drive nobody wants to end their holiday by being bulldozed by a hippo!
A popular spot for sundowners is the StLucia Ski-boat Club. You don’t have to be a member - visitors are welcome to pop in. If you choose to dine there, you might like to take in the sunset from the club’s upper deck.
The view is phenomenal: the ocean in the distance, beach sands and the mouth of the river (with reeds glowing golden in the setting sun). On the night I visited, a crocodile swam past at a leisurely pace, looking for all the world like a log drifting with the current.
The waters turned from blue, to gold, to dusky pink.
Being on the fringes of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, there are lots of activities for you to indulge in. You can go on a game drive in the reserve, take in a whale-watching expedition (seasonal) or sign up for a turtle tour. You might even spot a turtle making her arduous way up the beach to lay her eggs. You can also take a cruise on the lake; golfers will be able to swing a club and hikers can stretch their legs.
So, pack your bags, and head for this small slice of paradise.
Contact: 035 590 1024; www.forestkzn.co.za or www.rhinocoast.co.za