Hi everyone! Haven’t written a blog post in aaaages, there are all sorts of feels right now! 🙂 I was recently going through some photos on my computer and I came across ones we took over Valentines weekend this year (2016) and I cannot believe I never posted about my weekend at Shepherd’s Tree Game Lodge. For those who follow me on Snapchat, you’ll probably know all about my weekend but for those who don’t, this is for you! Also, this was my very first time at a game lodge, I cannot believe I’ve lived in South Africa my entire life and I only went to a game lodge this year!
So E actually surprised me with this little weekend getaway, I mean of course I knew we were going away for the weekend (we had to book Buddy in to a doggy hotel) but I just didn’t know where! All I knew was that it was a bit of a long drive and the whole time E was teasing me that he’s taking me to Sun City (I’m really not a fan since I’ve been before and it was rather average). We stayed for 2 nights, Saturday and Sunday (Valentine’s Day) and we drove back to JHB on Monday afternoon.
I must explain that I am a newbie safari girl, I don’t do camping or “roughing it out”, I enjoy my hot water baths and showers, a king sized bed with preferably white, Egyptian Cotton sheets (thread count is everything!), and I’m not even going to pretend for one minute that I’m chilled, I have zero chill when it comes to accommodation. If you’re just like me or you’re also a newbie safari-goer then I really think this would be a great first time experience. The rooms are extremely private, there are outdoor showers and trust me your neighbours can’t see you, the rooms are serviced and amenities are provided, almost like a hotel except you get more privacy. There is a restaurant that provides amazing food, there’s great entertainment on Saturday nights with traditional African dancing and singing, plus you get to dine in true African style, outside, candlelit and a braai! What’s a “braai”, you may ask? It’s a South African term for barbecue and we love it!
Shepherd’s Tree Game Lodge is located in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve (pretty close to Sun City), which is only about an hour and a half’s drive from Johannesburg. If you want more of a buzz, I would recommend going on Friday because I feel that’s when most people arrive and they go on their first game drive together on Friday afternoon after high tea (yes they provide high tea!). We arrived on Saturday to drumming and singing as we were checking in and we were welcomed by drinks and a delicious lunch. I recommend purchasing an all inclusive package if you are going for the weekend because it includes all game drives (2 per day), meals and high tea. It does exclude drinks, which we paid in total when we checked out but it was no biggie.
Let’s talk about the best part of the weekend, the game drives! There are two game drives per day, one in the morning (sunrise) and one in the late afternoon just after high tea, in time for sunset. The tour groups are MUCH smaller, I must emphasize, MUCH MUCH smaller than other game lodges, the cars that took us probably seats a maximum of about 10-12 people (they are rarely full because the guests are all spread out with other rangers). We’ve seen tours that had like 30+ people in one group so I definitely recommend doing some research about numbers when it comes to these tours. The smaller the better because then it’s more personal. We drove out 4 times that weekend because before we left on Monday, we went on our last game drive that morning and it was just E and I in the car, it was very romantic. 🙂 We managed to see 4 of the big fives that weekend because the Leopard is extremely hard to spot (no pun intended). We managed to see active female lions close to our lodge on our first game drive, which is quite rare because they are hardly active during the day.
The lodge made it even more special on Valentines Day because we went back to our rooms with roses, chocolates and sparkling wine on our bed waiting for us! Since we were in the middle of no where, there’s hardly cellphone reception but luckily the lodge does have wifi. I think it was a great weekend away to get away from all that technology we cannot live without, there wasn’t a TV in our room, which I thought was great! The stars were so clear at night because there were hardly any lights around us. I even want to go back as I’m writing up this post because I enjoyed it so much. I would definitely go back, it has the perfect balance between a luxury hotel and a “into the wild” experience!
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