Take a malaria-free Big Five game reserve in the Waterberg region, and add on a signature golf course where each hole is designed by a different world golf champion. Include luxury accommodation amidst the bushes and the wildlife. Then, accessorize it with a unique 19th hole and botanical gardens planted by Miss World contestants. What do you get? A legend – Legend Golf and Safari Resort to be precise.
As we drove through the nine-metre high gateway of the Great Enclosure, we felt as though we were entering an ancient civilisation. Quite appropriate, as the mammoth structure is a replica of the Great Zimbabwe Ruins. Other elements of Legend’s architecture were also inspired by the mighty Monomotapa Empire, and its first capital Mapungubwe was close to the resort’s current location.
The award-winning leisure complex is situated within the Entabeni Safari Conservancy and boasts a superb location. Nestled at the feet of the Waterberg Mountains in Limpopo, it stands under the sentinel of Hanglip Mountain, a striking sandstone peak at the end of an escarpment. Besides the golf course and wildlife reserve, it also has a museum, a spa, an amphitheatre, conference venues, a wildlife centre which houses white lions and other exotic creatures, and a rhino orphanage where orphaned baby rhinos are cared for. But the combination of world-class golf and safari activities is the main draw card for local and international travellers. It has also won the resort the award for World's Leading Safari Resort 2014.
At reception, we were welcomed with a drink and a schedule of activities and escorted to our room. There are 204 spacious en-suite rooms, built among the bushes across the resort, in order to preserve the pristine bushveld. The rooms are modern and elegantly furnished and lead out onto private patios. Large windows offer panoramic views of the outdoors. Non-predatory animals are free to roam in this area and we were regularly visited by zebras and various antelopes. Safari vehicles would collect and drop us off at our room when we went on game drives. At night the sounds of the bush lulled us into deep slumbers.
The scenery is spectacular and the reserve boasts some diverse wildlife. We saw three of the Big Five and jackals on our first game drive and a cheetah on our second – all at close range. An elephant passing our game vehicle was close enough to touch and a couple of lions entertained us as they played a mating game. Night game drives are available for those brave enough to withstand the cold.
One night, as we were driving back to our room after dinner, we saw an aardvark, one of the most elusive creatures in the African wild. It was the first time we had ever seen a live aardvark and we were mesmerised. It was busily burrowing a hole, oblivious to our presence, until it heard our voices and scurried off.
The Signature Clubhouse is a new addition to the resort. It contains memorabilia from the different golfers involved in the signature golf course, on the entrance floor and on the walls. It is also where most meals are relished. The open air boma where one can dine around a campfire under the starlit Waterberg sky is a popular, alternative dining venue and my children enjoyed dining al fresco. But perhaps the most impressive part of the new clubhouse is the roof from where one can enjoy the expansive views of the golf course, the mountain and beyond.
Golfing legends Justin Rose, Vijay Singh and Retief Goosen were among the prominent designers of the golf course. The world-renowned Extreme 19th hole is set on Hanglip Mountain and is accessible only by helicopter. The ball is hit on to a green the shape of Africa, approximately 400 metres below. Golfing and other celebrities from across the world have come to play this hole and many aficionados have called it the most difficult hole in the world.
My husband, a keen golfer, was disappointed that he didn't get to play it as the helicopter was undergoing repairs. Non-golfers can also experience Hanglip’s magic. The resort offers exhilarating helicopter flights, which can be combined with a romantic meal on the mountain. Even weddings have been arranged there.
Other activities include the Little Legends programme for smaller children, where they are taken care of while parents enjoy some quiet time. There are also segway rides, quad-biking, bush walks and a wide variety of sports facilities. The whole family could easily spend a week here without getting bored.
Despite the size of the resort, it is a place of wide open spaces where you can enjoy the solitude, hear your thoughts and be in harmony with nature. Perfect for a family getaway or corporate retreat.
Disclosure Level: 7
I visited Legend Golf and Safari Resort in May 2015.
Wildlife at Legend Golf and Safari Resort