Winter wonderland We visited in August/September, a time of year that offers ideal game viewing conditions in the dry season. The days are temperate, averaging between 13 and 30 degrees Celsius, bringing about good visibility through the vegetation and grass. If there was the occasional crisp morning or nippy evening, it added to the atmosphere, thanks to the fireplace in the suites and the underfloor heating in the luxurious bathrooms. And fleecy blankets and hot water bottles took the edge off any possible chill on the open-vehicle game drives. The Royal Portfolio properties are renowned for comfort, from super-king beds to sprawling bathrooms. Our doors opened from the bathtub onto the deck where antelopes ambled by gracefully, unperturbed by the sight of humans. I relished the indulgent Quercus bath products and enjoyed wrapping up afterwards in plush towels and my gifted leopard-print slippers! Quality team Waterside has opened with plenty of aplomb, bringing over many skilled and talented staff from The Royal Portfolio’s various esteemed properties – from highly trained chefs who deliver gastronomic marvels to the most qualified guiding team in Africa, with unrivalled knowledge and experience about the area’s flora and fauna. I could wax lyrical about our superb sightings in this remarkable part of the world, which boasts such a high density of animals. And it’s not only the presence of the “Big 5” that adds to the experience here; there’s extensive birdlife that entertains even down to the humble cisticola – a small brown bird that would be indistinguishable but for its incredible range of sweet-sounding calls: tinkling, rattling, whistling, trilling and bubbling! My enthusiasm is clearly indicative of how Waterside ignites and stimulates the senses. It’s a place that will enhance a safari experience through a touch of unabashed brilliance and glamour. Getting there Internal flights from Johannesburg or Cape Town land at the charming airport of Hoedspruit, which is just a 45-minute drive from the lodge. Consider adding a stay at The Royal Portfolio’s iconic property in Cape Town, The Silo Hotel ( see next page ).
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