We had been tracking lions on a morning game drive, for a while, when they finally emerged from the thickets, and we found ourselves behind a magnificent male. He turned around, looked directly at us, and began striding towards our vehicle. For a brief moment my heart stopped in my throat, as I thought that he was going to charge at us. Then he suddenly halted at the edge of the pathway.
A lioness began calling out in the bush and brushed past him as she continued her quest to find her cubs. A few minutes later, they were found and the family was reunited - two lionesses and 7 adorable cubs, with the male joining in later. It was incredible to witness this heart-warming scene. See the video below.
We were in the malaria-free Mabula Game Reserve and our home for the weekend was the latest addition to their portfolio, the exquisite Kingfisher Villa. Barely a year old, the villa is situated in the heart of the reserve, amidst the rugged beauty of the African wilderness. Not far from Mabula Game Lodge, its sister property, it is discreetly tucked away to maintain privacy and tranquility, and with just 5 suites, guests can rent the entire villa for an exclusive experience or book the individual suites for a personalised stay.
The moment you step into Kingfisher Villa, you are greeted by the warm embrace of African bush-inspired decor, which combines modern amenities with traditional touches that pay homage to the country's rich heritage. The entrance is flanked by the lounging and dining areas and leads to an outdoor deck with a rim flow pool overlooking the Mvubu (meaning hippo) dam. True to its name, there were hippos in the dam along with crocodiles.
The 5 elegant suites flank the communal areas and are arranged around the dam. Designed for relaxation, they have comfortable king-sized beds, sofas, large flat-screen televisions, coffee stations and mini bars.
The spacious bathrooms feature Victorian-style bathtubs, rain showers, double vanity basins and Charlotte Rhys amenities.
Swinging daybeds in front of the rooms, outdoor lounges and a fire-lit boma area provided perfect vantage points to view the stunning sunsets.
Game drives are conducted twice daily in the Greater Mabula Game Reserve in Limpopo, which was lush and green after the recent rains. One of the closest Big 5 game reserves to Johannesburg, it is under 3 hours away from the big city. The reserve spans 12 000 hectares, including a separate 2-hectare section where the lions are kept along with a sufficient amount of prey in the form of plains game.
Guided bush walks, quad biking and horse-back safaris are conducted in the section without lions. One can even do a hot air balloon safari and we saw one hovering over the reserve during our morning game drive! Apart from the lions, we also saw elephants, rhinos, buffaloes, hyenas, jackals, elands and much more.
The warm and welcoming staff at Kingfisher Villa were some of the friendliest we've ever encountered. Michael was a very hands-on manager with loads of experience and we had many interesting conversations with him. Lindani, our butler, was always smiling and ultra-attentive, while Tshepo, our guide, who was trained under Mabula’s community upliftment programme, was eager to show us as much as he could in the wild.
Flora, our talented chef, spoilt us with her delicious culinary delights, which were tailored to our requirements. Our meals were served mainly in the opulent dining room or on the pool deck, which were both conducive to long leisurely meals. Meals consisted of breakfasts with continental and hot courses, light lunches, high tea with sweet and savoury choices, and 4-course dinners. Some of the dishes we enjoyed included creamy prawn and mussel starters, kingklip with stuffed veggies, ravioli with sundried tomatoes and feta, malva pudding, and lemon posset. The mocktails were delicious too!
Kingfisher Villa is perfect for a multi-generational family safari getaway and is often booked for large families. We were there with our teenagers and they loved it. It is also ideal for executive corporate getaways, romantic escapades or weekend breaks from the city. If you’re looking for a sanctuary that promises wilderness and luxury in generous measures, Kingfisher Villa is waiting to welcome you into its serene embrace.
Take a tour of Kingfisher Villa below.
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