Arriving in Hoedspruit for the Tintswalo Safari Lodge, a whole new world of wild is revealed. Descending over the dry bushy landscape, warthogs running free and vultures circling above, DECO had arrived at what appeared to be the symbolic heart of Africa.
What awaited us was magic, and it would unfold at a raw and unpredictable African pace, as we made our way to the Tintswalo Safari Lodge.
Tintswalo: The intangible feeling of love, gratitude and peace bestowed upon someone offering you a meaningful and worthy gift.
Bordering the Kruger National Park, situated on the Manyeleti Game Reserve, architect Neil Hayes-Hill has created a never-want-to-leave sanctuary. Six luxurious, secluded chalets, each with a private deck and plunge pool, have been curated by interior designer Caroline Wright.
Next-door stands the vast Manor house, perfect for groups or families, and the magnificent Presidential suite. All this in perfect view of watering holes and wildlife from every doorstep, bed and shower.
‘But one must eat to prepare for such an experience’ says our most attentive and kind butler Orlando – and so we did, throughout each day, the most delectable feasts you can imagine. Be it breakfast fry-ups in the bush, alfresco lunches under ancient sycamore fig trees overlooking elephants, or candlelit outdoor dinners, the chefs never missed a beat, each bite fighting for the favoured title.
It is not unusual to leave a holiday with a heavy heart, but to be brought to tears? This is how the Tintswalo team measures a successful stay – something we witnessed and experienced personally.
As anticipation mounted it was time for the first game-viewing, one of three offered each day, as we were are introduced to our guide, Fritz.
Fritz has spent every waking minute in the bush, and since 2000 he has been professionally guiding guests through magical Africa. He arrives, greeting us with a passion and excitement in his eyes, like this is his first game drive ever. Accompanied by tracker Mpho, known to be the best lion tracker of his age, the sneaking suspicion that we were in for the ride of our lives was 100% accurate.
As we embark, our friendly introductions are interrupted by the radio, crackling in a potential sighting that Fritz feels is an opportunity not to be missed. ‘I need you to trust me, and hold on tight’, he screams over his shoulder as we take off, jolting over branches and ditches like on a chase in Magnum PI.
We arrive to an opening of land, greeted by two male cheetahs, the fastest land animal in the world. Relaxed and lazy the two beautiful cats are aware of our presence but happily let us admire them. Even as a South African, the gratitude of this sighting is still overwhelming.
The next three days of map-less drives and exploring with Fritz and Mpho have us constantly in awe and educated. With the Big Five roaming free, they lean towards the animal’s behavior and tracks in the sand, to guide us through a once in a lifetime experience.
We walked to lions and rhino, and came so close to a leopard that his purr reverberated in our chests. Each day no question went unanswered, no story untold, leaving us informed and enlightened about the truths of the land.
Fritz and Mpho share a remarkable relationship, both witty and dedicated, literally sweeping every guest off their feet. It is quite unbelievable to admit that every one of the Tintswalo staff members are just as enthusiastic, hospitable and genuinely happy to offer you the most remarkable service and attention to detail.
Tintswalo has grown a team of pure passion and forever changed the idea of outdoor luxury, and perhaps even fairytales too.
There is something to say about a review where the rooms are exquisite, the food delectable and the service unwavering but that these elements get overshadowed by the pure unforgettable memories experienced. This sums up Tintswalo. It is no surprise that they have received so much international acknowledgment for excellence as it is well deserved.
The only fault was ours… we should’ve booked in for longer.
Images by Gerard Noel and Megan Schumann
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