When I got the email asking me if I’d like to go on a trip to Sibani Lodge, just 30 minutes from Lanseria, I could not contain my excitement. It was a bush retreat, and though I’d been camping before, I’ve never gone luxury camping. It was also the perfect occasion to celebrate my sister’s birthday.
Set in the acclaimed Cradle of Humankind is Sibani Lodge, offering guests a luxurious sanctuary with expansive views of the savannah and wildlife who roam it, all within minutes of some of the country’s most-visited sites.
Sibani Lodge is set in the idyllic nature reserve of Mt. Savannah, spanning over two thousand hectares. Animals roam freely on the land, from red hartebeest to kudu, impala, zebra and a variety of bird life, flora and fauna. We arrived shortly after I flew in, driving along the rocky road until we reached the campsite.
We were greeted by a friendly smile, and promptly shown to our tent. It was big, with a veranda, a lounge area, a massive bed and bathroom. We sank into restfulness, as snacks were served beore we got the call to notify us that lunch was ready. Here, the only electricity is in the boma, where all of the meals are enjoyed.
In the mornings and nights, the generator goes on, so guests can enjoy a hot shower, in a bathroom that is walled in by bamboo, thus never losing the feel of nature. There are 4 luxury tents, each with the views thanks to being on the cusp of the savannah. Each tent faces a different direction, so we felt a real sense of privacy to relax in the luxurious tent, which is fit with every amenity one could need, from comfortable kind beds to a flask of hot water for tea and coffee.
As the stars glitter in the sky, candles are lit in the rooms and during the night, the sound of animals roaming right outside your tent, and the distant cries of jackals, are the lullaby of the bush. On our first night, we were lucky enough to experience one of rthe thunderstorms that Gauteng is known for, hearing the downpour of drops like we’ve never quite experienced before, along with the subtle humming of the ground as the thunder roars, with flashes of lightening bringing the view of droplets in and out of sight.
After lunch, we were treated to a game drive, where we were are taken through the property. We got up close and personal with the animals, seeing them dart around from side to side, in an environment where they are free to thrive. The safari takes you up to the highest point in the reserve, where you can truly marvel at the landscape, as the picnic basket is set on a table. Sipping a glass of wine and nibble from the spread of biltong and cheeses, while looking at the sinking sun melting in the distance. The skies will try on different colours, from oranges to pinks, decorated with white, shapeshifting clouds.
Back at the campsite, full board is taken care of, offering home cooked style meals and South African favourites. At Sibani, no guest will go hungry. Before and after dinner, there is a fire, surrounded by camping chairs for guests to enjoy, as lanterns set the mood and lighting to accompany the flames.
The Cradle of Humankind is one of eight World Heritage Sites in South Africa, and the only one in Gauteng. It is widely recognised as the place from which all of humankind originated. The 47 000-hectare site has unearthed some of the best evidence of the complex journey humankind has taken. Sibani Lodge is a mere ten-minute drive from Maropeng and the Sterkfontein Caves, both of which are fascinating must-visit sites.
Whatever your traveling preference, Sibani Lodge awaits you with just that. Escaping to the wonders of the bush and all that makes the Cradle of Humankind has never been easier.
The Long March to Freedom
On our second day, we visited The Long March to Freedom exhibition at Maropeng, which is part of a bigger development of over 600 life-size bronze icons of South Africa’s struggle for freedom. All figures represent a timeline of the country’s 350 year to democracy, from 1652 to 1994 when South Africa held its first democratic elections. It is the world’s largest outdoor sculptural display of individuals, using public art to celebrate South Africa’s heritage, paving the path for learning. All individuals in the exhibition must have passed on, are depicted in motion, walking to freedom, and have played a significant role in the liberation of the country. The monumental undertaking of researchers, sculptors, artists and casting foundries across the nation worked together, bringing experienced and novice artists together through a mentorship process. Expect to see the likes of Sol Plaatje, Helen Joseph, Bram Fisher, Ruth Frist, Joe Slovo, Dr Beyers Naude, Solomon Mahlangu, Samora Machel, Miriam Makeba, Govan Mbeki, Chris Hani, Steve Biko, Walter and Albertina Sisulu, Adelaide and Oliver Tambo, and of course, Nelson Mandela, among many others, who represent and honour but a drop in the ocean of all those who fought for democracy.