"Africa remains in the realms of the magical. It is a place of spectacular beauty and unpredictable passion". Sean Frazer
We trudged up the winding mountain paths surrounded by lush thickets. In the bushes ahead, a herd of impalas sprinted past us like a mirage. We rounded a bend and encountered a giraffe towering over us. He eyed us curiously for a few minutes then sauntered back into the forest. We continued on the gravelly path flanked by pretty wildflowers, the views of the valley below us becoming smaller and smaller, until we descended to the shimmering rock pools below. It was the ideal place to catch our breath and relax.
En route back to the lodge, we came across another giraffe while some blesboks and wildebeest peeked at us from behind the shrubs and a baboon watched from a tree. Back at the lodge, the zebras were grazing near the swimming pool. They were often there along with the giraffes, and sometimes the impalas and ostriches too.
The setting of this wildlife utopia was Zebras Crossing Very Private Game Lodge, hidden in the malaria-free Waterberg Mountains, just over 2 hours from Johannesburg. Understandably, it is one of the highest-rated lodges by travellers in the Waterberg on TripAdvisor. Set on 300 hectares of bushveld, it can accommodate sixteen people in six comfortable suites – making it very private indeed.
Promise, the pleasant lodge manager who has been at the lodge since its inception over twenty years ago and co-owns it, gave us a warm welcome on arrival. Our temperatures were checked and we were given hand sanitizers. The expansive space was great for social distancing, however other Covid-19 protocols were also in place.
Each suite has its own bathroom and outdoor shower. Two of them are family suites and children of all ages are welcome. Our family suite featured a main bedroom and bathroom on the lower level and a twin bedroom in the loft for the kids. Cosy bathrobes and zebra-striped blankets were provided. A personalised welcome note and some delicious snacks awaited us. As comfortable as it was though, when we were not sleeping or eating, we spent most of our time outdoors.
We loved watching the zebras and giraffes grazing on the plains around the lodge. It is surrounded by hills and forests where they - and other wildlife - roam free. Since there are no predators or other dangerous creatures, the environment is ideal for hiking. Hiking is our new favourite pastime and it was wonderful to have such wonderful trails literally on our doorstep. The lodge has five well-marked hiking trails, and we did three of them during our stay. The best part was coming across wildlife unexpectedly.
The open-plan main lodge has dining and lounging areas and a wrap-around veranda. Complimentary wi-fi can be accessed here. There is a reading nook in the loft with a small library containing some interesting reads in case you forgot to bring any with you. I got hooked on one of them!
There is a lovely pool with sun loungers where you may be joined by the zebras. You can also have a go at some table tennis in the games room or play board and card games. My daughter enjoyed the library while my son had fun with the table tennis. Kids are welcome to take their cycles with them to the lodge. One afternoon, Promise took us on a bumpy game drive into the mountains, and we stopped at a panoramic viewpoint for sundowners while we relished the views.
We were served three meals a day as well as afternoon tea and cake. The lunches were light and refreshing, but the dinners were hearty three-course affairs. Meals were accompanied by delicious homemade breads. Log fires were lit for us as it was mid-winter, but in summer, you can dine al-fresco.
As much as I love Big Five safaris, they are more about the excitement than the serenity due to the early morning game drives and late dinners. At Zebras Crossing , you can unwind while the wildlife comes to you. Chill out at the pool, in the hammocks, or on the bush bed in the forest – or even in your comfy room.
The staff are attentive yet unobtrusive, the setting is magical, and the location is great for a weekend getaway near Gauteng, or a stopover en route to or from a Big Five safari. The size makes it perfect for small family and friend reunions, team-building getaways, intimate weddings and wellness retreats. You can easily book the whole lodge exclusively for your party at rates that won’t break the bank . It’s an idyllic place to get away from it all and immerse yourself in nature, and it will end up feeling like a home away from home.
Here are some highlights of our stay.