South Africa is a country of unexpected surprises. One moment you’re in the chaotic city, and the next in the peaceful countryside. Just 30 kilometres away from Pretoria, in a lush 400 hectare nature reserve where grazing wildlife roam free, you will find Zebra Nature Reserve (previously known as Zebra Country Lodge), a charming countryside getaway.
Zebra Nature Reserve is a family-friendly reserve consisting of four distinctly different accommodation options spaced comfortably apart from each other: Zebra Stables, Bush Lodge, Mountain Lodge and Zebra Villa. Each lodge has its own swimming pool, restaurant and African boma - an outdoor enclosure where braais and bush dinners can be enjoyed under the stars.
As the name suggests, Mountain Lodge is surrounded by mountains and hills, and set within beautifully manicured gardens interspersed with running streams, rock pools and little stone bridges. At the Zebra Stables, you can expect chic African décor and expansive views. The suites are beautifully refurbished, charismatic stables set on the lakeside, and the room doors bear the names of the previous equine occupants. Near the lodge are stables with horses used for riding. The rooms at Bush Lodge are thatched cottages surrounded by indigenous trees, while the villa is a luxurious 5-bedroom self-catering mansion, designed for privacy and perfect for family gatherings.
We spent two nights at Mountain Lodge. Our home for the weekend was a spacious chalet with a high thatched roof, a main en-suite bedroom, and an open-plan lounge and dining area with twin beds for the children. The suite had a bar fridge, beverage facilities and a television. We loved relaxing on our cosy private patio overlooking the gardens, with our books and drinks. When we needed to stretch our legs, we just stepped down into the pretty gardens. On our walks, we came across giraffes, kudus, nyalas and impalas grazing. It was just what we needed to destress.
There are many leisure activities here to keep boredom at bay. Mountain biking and walking trails traverse the extensive grounds. Kayaking and horseback riding, and catch and release bass fishing are other available adventure options. Helicopter rides and hot air balloon rides can be arranged as well.
Game drives can be undertaken in the lodge’s own reserve or in the neighbouring Dinokeng Game Reserve, Gauteng’s only Big Five Game Reserve. Occasionally, we heard lion roars disrupting the serenity. Oh, and there’s a reptile centre too. If all these activities tire you out, then you can indulge in some pampering spa treatments.
The lodge also houses a Ndebele Cultural Village. Although guided tours will only resume next year, we took a walk around the bright and colourful village, admiring the beautiful artwork and the resident peacocks strutting around.
Meals were served at the Stables restaurant, which is where the main kitchen is situated. For breakfast we enjoyed scrambled eggs, smoked haddock, fried potatoes, fresh fruit and pastries. For dinner we were treated to a decadent feast – a spicy minestrone soup starter, a seafood platter for mains, and fruit salad with ice cream for dessert.
Our weekend at Zebra Nature Reserve was so relaxing, it made us feel as though we had been away for ages. The staff were friendly and hospitable, and made us feel at home, especially Herbert who’s been there for 26 years! The lodge’s proximity to Johannesburg and Pretoria also makes it ideal for corporate events and conferences, as well as picturesque weddings.