Paradise found off the beaten track

By Debashine Thangevelo Time of article published Sep 16, 2017

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In 2010, I relocated to Joburg. It was a huge adjustment for this family-oriented Durban gal, who loved her sundowners on the beach.

But I resigned myself to the colder winters and drier air, comforted by the other wonderful attributes this city has to offer, including its infectious energy.

I’ve since acclimatised to being a Joburger, although I’ve yet to master the art of suppressing those frequent bouts of road rage.

Now I’ve explored parts of the city and surrounding areas, but Mpumalanga didn’t register on my tourist radar until SA Tourism announced that this lesser-explored region is a main focus in this year’s campaign.

When the opportunity to visit the province arose, I took it as a sign to satisfy my curiosity as

well as a chance to escape from life in concrete jungle - albeit for

a short while.

I grabbed a friend, got into my ride for the weekend - the new Toyota C-HR - and set off on our road trip to Hazyview.

We had to snake our way through congested freeways before we actually got to hit the open road. The further we drove from the bustling city, the more relaxed we became.

We had wonderful panoramic views of the hills, boasting contrasting terrain. On some grassy fields, the livestock were gracefully grazing, oblivious to the fleeting attention from the inhabitants in the vehicles darting past.

As we drew closer to Hazyview, we stumbled upon the most breathtaking sights of citrus farms and banana plantations.

Thanks to the arresting sights, the drive, which normally takes about four-and-a-half hours, took a little longer.

But we arrived at the Sabi River Sun Resort in time for sundowners by the Hippo Pool.

Sadly, in the few minutes that we took to freshen up, the last vestiges of light succumbed to nightfall, so we settled for refreshing cocktails from the bar and a bit of bonding with a few other holidaymakers while the inviting aromas of the prepared Boma braai sent my taste buds into overdrive.

Thankfully, dinner was a few minutes away. And it was a buffet of note. A wide-range of salads, chicken, meat, venison sausages and fish.

Of the options of rice, pap or rolls, the pap was the clear winner.

The dessert table was the pièce de résistance in my biased opinion. It had all my favourites: tiramisu, peppermint crisp tart, milk tart, profiteroles, decadent chocolate mousse and more.

Since it was a long day, we retired to bed early as we wanted to be well-rested for the activities scheduled for Saturday. We stayed in a standard room in the hotel with a balcony overlooking the golf course.

It was comfy and I’m told it will be undergoing a revamp soon. In fact, parts of the resort have undergone or is undergoing an aesthetic panel beating, so to speak.

Much of our morning was spent at Heather’s Spa for facials and full body massages. There are plans to open a more spacious and luxurious spa with a lot more amenities like a steam room, jacuzzi and more on a vacant piece of land, tucked away on one side of the golf course.

In between treatments, we had a tour of the 18-hole golf course. Admittedly, it was pretty fun driving around in the golf cart, and thankfully the general manager Wayne Wilson guided us through, without any injury from those golf balls flying around.

Depending on whether you are an adrenalin junkie or simply craving downtime, there are plenty of options to choose from.

After our light lunch, it was time for a game drive through the Kruger National Park and everyone had their smartphones/ cameras ready for “action”.

We managed to spot elephants, hippos, wildebeest and lots of impala, kudu and giraffes.

In fact, while on the drive, we stumbled upon a giraffe that had carefully positioned itself over a tree to scratch an itch.

For two minutes, we watched it swing back and forth while the comedian on the bus provided some hilarious “adult” narration (sound effects were included too).

While a few of the guys were saddened about not sighting a lion or leopard, spotting two vultures offered some solace.

And so it was back to the resort for dinner and a chilled evening.

Again, we didn’t retire to bed too late as Sunday was earmarked for a road trip to check out some of the raved about tourist attractions.

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