Romantic escape to the Waterberg

Escape with your loved one to the wonders of the African bush at Mabalingwe. ‘Mabalingwe’ was melded from the Tswana words “mabala a nkwe”, or “spots of the leopard” and the picturesque surrounds with sweeping views over the Waterberg create a tranquil setting for cosy couples to ‘meld’ together and reconnect. A romantic escape to the Waterberg reignites the spark…

Evening of Bliss

First night huddled together by a crackling fire

Arrive at a comfortable Ingwe chalet, set on a craggy rock outcrop which positions the unit to overlook the valley. The journey to a getaway can be tiring so relax on the private patio with a crackling fire, the stridulating of beetles and a decadent bottle of wine for the evening. The incredible Milky Way lights the night sky above as you and your partner enjoy the perfect start to your romantic escape.

A Spa Retreat

Blissful massage treatments as a couple

There is something special about the first morning you awake in the bush; the sound of buck near the chalet, snapping twigs; sweet birdsong to pull you out of deep, restful sleep and the smell of freshly brewed coffee which fills the unit and warms your soul. Enjoy a light breakfast together, as the sun chases away the shadows and cool of the evening, before making a visit to Mbali Day Spa. Indulge in a one-hour Theranaka™ African Fusion Body Massage side-by-side, or relax with a pampering foot ritual to soothe aching feet. The options at Mbali are endless and can be perfectly tailored to create the ultimate romantic treat.

Sipping on Love

Coffee and cake poolside

Once your spa treatment has come to an end, why not linger at the main entertainment area and enjoy the facilities? Walk, hand-in-hand, to Boeretroos Coffee Shop to tantalise your taste buds with freshly brewed coffee and scrumptious cakes. Lounge poolside, soaking up the warm rays and cooling off in crystal waters, before making the journey back to your unit to wash off the day and prepare for the evening’s activities.

Into the Night

Couples enjoy a lovely night game drive

Book for a Night Game Drive at main reception; experiencing the bushveld between the hours of 19:00 and 21:30 is a special occasion and creates a feeling different from that of a day drive. Share a delicious dinner and sundowners at Le Fera Restaurant or Vulture’s View Bar in anticipation for the game drive. Savour South African cuisine with incredible views over the Reserve before clambering into a game-viewing vehicle to spend the evening spotting wildlife and being in one another’s company. Our rangers are incredibly knowledgeable on the biome and will share interesting facts and information, as you two cosy up and immerse in the wonders of nature.

Hiking Together

Picnic and stroll hand-in-hand on a hiking trail

Wake early the next morning to enjoy traditional rusks and coffee, while watching the sunrise, dress comfortably for the weather and then head over to Wag ‘n Bietjie Hiking Trails. Spend the morning experiencing the Waterberg in a different light; surrounded by sweet breezes, a flutter of wings and a number of nature’s treasures. These trails trek through mountains, ravines and forest, offering superb views and a wonderful opportunity to connect and spend quality time together. Pack a picnic and find a secluded nook with a beautiful view to enjoy a selection of your favourite treats.

Feeling Butterflies

Zipline experience for two!

Do you and your partner prefer adrenaline rushes and exciting outings? Journey off-site to Waterberg Zipline Adventures who offer exactly that! Book an incredible two and a half hour experience, zip-lining in a zig-zag fashion over the Waterberg on slides of 70 to 250 metres long. The guides provide knowledge of the flora and fauna within the area and the views are spectacular. When the tour comes to an end, couples make their way back to Mabalingwe Nature Reserve and find a lovely spot for well-deserved refreshments {this is the perfect opportunity to work in a visit to Kalahari Oasis Pub}.

Your romantic escape to the Mabalingwe bushveld is a wonderful way to create new memories together, share in unique experiences, enjoy a few of your favourite things along the way and to hear, “I loved every second that I spent with you.”

Book your romantic getaway to Mabalingwe today, or chat to the Le Fera Team to arrange a special celebration your loved one will never forget.

A guide for amateur photographers

That utter dismay of returning to base camp only to find all the photos you snagged of that pride of lions are out of focus, have poor lighting or, the pride looks suspiciously like a tree. These are all too familiar moments that amateur photographers experience. Let’s face it – very few of us have the time or the pricey equipment it takes to set up in a make-shift hide for 6 hours a day, lying in wait of the perfect shot; and then still return home to fancy editing tools to make our images look like a million bucks.

 

Our hearts lie in capturing the moment so that we can relive the day at a later date surrounded by family and good food, sharing stories late into the night. But wouldn’t it be great to hear a, “Wow! Did you really take that photo?” rather than a, “Are you sure that’s a hippo? It looks like a rock.”

 

Without further ado, here is your guide to awesome wildlife photos:

  1. Get your camera set up right at the beginning.

All those images you’ve taken where you swear there was an impala in the scene, but in the photo, there isn’t? Or the bright light white-washes your photo so you might as well delete it. Maybe your camera has an auto flash you forgot to turn off and now that brilliant blue kingfisher is a grey fleck in the sky above you. This is what needs to change. Keep in mind that your subject will likely not stand still for prolonged periods of time, so get your camera set up to higher shutter speed, use a telephonic lens if you can, and turn that flash off permanently!

Egyptian Geese landing on the water
Photo by: JB Vorster
  1. Let’s plan!

The wildlife in South Africa is most active early morning or late afternoon/evening. This is why so many game reserves offer drives at these times – it’s to maximise your chances of spotting big cats in action or hippo’s grazing out of the water. So whether you book a guided tour or decide to pack some “padkos” and hit the road in your own vehicle, do so at these times. If you are specifically looking for shots of one species try researching their habits and find out when and where they’re most active.

Impala at a watering hole
Photo by: Linda McBride
  1. Set the scene.

First and foremost, you will want to find a spot where the background compliments your subject. Think of the space they are moving in and capture a large portion of that behind the subject. Think of a lone leopard wandering along a road, or a pod of hippos just peeking out of the water at a dam. Picture the shot beforehand, the colours, the foliage and the animal in unison. Commit to the perfect shot and position yourself and your camera in-line, or in eye contact with the animal to really get those gazes front and centre in your images. Have you ever seen that National Geographic photographer belly down or on their haunches? Yes – that is what we mean. Then have patience! Take a bunch of photos from different angles and spend some time following the animal.

Hornbill in a tree
Photo by: Shanice Faber

And yes – editing gives images that “wow” factor, but you don’t need to spend your savings on some software for photos you aren’t planning to earn an income from. These images are for your collection, so find a free picture editor that will help spruce up your photos and voilà! You’ll be a master photographer in no time.

 

If you’re looking for something a little more in-depth try signing up for this free course.

 

And don’t forget to send us your awesome shots: yourresortstory@vrs.co.za

Mabalingwe Sunset
Photo by: Karen Steenkamp

Which Accommodation Best Suits You?

Mabalingwe Nature Reserve offers a wide variety of accommodation options, fit to cater for any person or group’s needs. Whether you prefer a more tranquil spot from which to listen to the soul-soothing sounds of the bush, or if your family wants to be in on the action and near the hive of activity at the Main Entertainment Centre; we have it all. So tell us, which accommodation best suits you?

  1. Ingwe Camp

Ideal for families looking to breakaway and spend quality time together, Ingwe Camp includes all the necessities for a home-away-from-home. Each unit is perched comfortably on a rocky outcrop, providing visitors with beautiful views over the Waterberg Valley to enjoy over a tasty meal alongside a crackling fire; surrounded by loved ones.

Pax.: 4/6                      No. of Units: 86

Ingwe Camp

  1. Kwalata Camp

Another well-situated camp for families, Kwalata Camp provides guests with stunning views of the dense Mabalingwe bush and is situated a short drive from the main pool area where families can frolic in the sunshine and splash about in the cool swimming pools.

Pax.: 4/6                      No. of Units: 20

Kwalata Camp

  1. Phiri Camp

This smaller camp is a great place for couples or smaller clusters of friends to enjoy one another’s company under the African sun, while still having a private unit to retreat to. The camp has its own unheated pool, baby pool and lapa; perfect for cooling off during the day and spotting wildlife in the nearby shrubbery while immersed in laughter under a twinkling night sky.

Pax.: 4             No. of Units: 15

Phiri Camp

  1. Kubu Camp

Kubu Camp is situated approximately 3km from Reception to provide guests with privacy and tranquillity in the heart of the bush. A wonderful spot for a reunion of friends; a spot from which to view passing game, relax poolside at Kubu’s unheated swimming pool, or to chat and share stories of the days adventures around a fire at Kubu’s lapa.

Pax.: 6             No. of Units: 12

Kubu Camp

  1. Kalahari Bush Camp

This permanent-tented bush camp is a great family or large group escape. Surround yourself in the thicket and spend time listening to the stridulating of beetles or call of the jackal. Kalahari Bush Camp is so named for being situated closely to the local Bush Pub, and is a great base from which to explore all the Reserve has to offer. Each tent is well-appointed, and the group shares common areas, such as; a fully-equipped kitchen, lapa/braai area and ablution facilities.

Ablution: Yes                           Pax.: 2             No. of Units: 5

Kalahari Oasis Camp

  1. Pitsi Bush Camp

An idyllic location for some much needed rest and relaxation, Pitsi Bush Camp offers five units with a communal kitchen, outdoor toilet and shower, lapa, and small splash pool. This camp is situated further away from the main activities at Mabalingwe and is a great spot for guests wishing to kick back and enjoy the lovely warm weather.

Ablution: Yes                           Pax.: 2             No. of Units: 5

Pitsi Camp

  1. 4X4 Camp

This camp is the most rustic of the accommodation available to guests and caters specifically for the adventurous few, who revel at the idea of “roughing-it” for a completely unique experience. Braai and ablution facilities are provided, but there is no electricity and the camp is only accessible by 4X4 vehicles. The camp is in an isolated section of the Nature Reserve, which is any camping lover or gadget guru’s paradise.

Ablution: Yes                           Pax.: 4             No. of Units: 7

4X4 Camp

Mbali Day Spa’s Sultry Shower Steamers

Summer is in full swing at Mabalingwe Nature Reserve and the hot African weather can sometimes leave you feeling drowsy and in need of a pick-me-up. While a hot bath might be great for just this reason in the winter, the warmer months tend to be isolated to short and sweet showers. So just like that – the Shower Steamer was created! These little pockets are packed full of your favourite aromas and when placed into the corner of the shower while you’re scrub-a-dubbing, can get you feeling uplifted and energised again. We’ve used Cinnamon and Orange Essential Oils to boost brain function for the hot day ahead while nourishing dry skin and creating a feeling of happiness! So here it is – our recipe for Mbali Day Spa’s Sultry Shower Steamers:

INGREDIENTS

1 Cup Bicarbonate of Soda

1/4 Cup Tepid Water

5 Drops of Cinnamon and/or Orange Essential Oils

Shower Steamer Ingredients

VARIATIONS

  • You can really get creative with these little fizzies! Try using different moulds, or add a drop or two of a colourant to make them more playful.
  • Essential Oils come in a range of exciting scents and each has their own benefits. Trade these Essential Oils for Lavender Oil for a calming or relaxing version, or perhaps Peppermint Oil to clear your sinuses and to help you feel energised.

METHOD

Place the bicarbonate of soda into a bowl and slowly start to dribble the water in, in small doses. Stir constantly until the mixture turns into more of a paste. Don’t panic if your mixture becomes too runny, simply add small amounts of bicarb to correct it.

Test the mix by squeezing some in your hand; the paste should have a semi-dry or damp texture.

Spoon the mix into a mould of your choice and pack it tightly, forcing any spaces or air pockets out. Your steamers should be as dense as possible. Leave to air dry thoroughly or bake at 100°C for approximately 30 minutes or until dry.

Finally, remove the Shower Steamers from the mould and store in an airtight container. Drip the Essential Oils onto a Steamer before placing it in the corner of your shower. You can now enjoy the lovely aroma of a dissolving steamer!

Orange Essential Oil

TIPS

  • Try using a silicone mould, as the finished product can be crumbly
  • You can mix the Essential Oils into the product before drying, but we find they are the most potent when the Oils are applied just before use
  • Valentine’s Day is around the corner – why not whip up a batch of heart-shaped fizzies for a loved one?

The Traditional Uses of Plants

When travelling into nature, deep into the South African bushveld, we don’t often stop to appreciate the less-sought-after elements of the biome. Most adventurers search tirelessly through the thicket along the gravel roads to spot an elusive creature or calm giant; the game life always steals the show. We rarely tend to pause and stare, not through, but at the thicket itself. To pause and wonder at how a tree so large or a sea of beautiful flowers so vast, can influence our health and set us back onto a path of healing. Do you know just how incredible nature is? Have you ever considered the wonderful healing properties of the plant life all around us? We take a look at the traditional uses of plants…

For Stomach Ache:

Pink Malva Flower
A Pink Malva flower.

Wild Malva. Brewing this prettily pink flower into boiling water and drinking the infused water can help settle a sore tummy. This plant is widely used in a range of treatments by traditional healers.
Balderjan. This plant is very similar to mint and, if sipped as a tea, is said to calm the stomach.
Pepperbark Tree. People say the bark protecting the roots and stems of this plant can be dried, ground and mixed with water to cure stomach ache, amongst other ailments.

For Headaches:

Wormwood
The blossom of a Wormwood plant.

African Wormwood. This plant is traditionally used in a variety of ways to treat many different ailments, but can also be boiled to drink as tea, or made into a poultice to treat a headache.
Horseradish. It is full of beneficial properties and, when ingested, helps to alleviate pain.
Devil’s Claw. People infuse the plant with warm water as a long-standing practice for treating headaches.

For Aching Muscles:

Aloe Ferox
The vibrant colours of an Aloe Ferox.

Wild Malva. People not only use this little flower to ease a stomach but adding the leaves of the plant into bath water is said to help relax stiffened muscles and achy joints.
Aloe Ferox. This plant is widely used, even in popular cosmetics lines today, and has anti-inflammatory properties; perfect for soothing tired muscles.

For Flus and Colds:

Wild Garlic
White Wild Garlic flowers.

African Ginger. Chewing on segments of the roots of this plant has the same effect as store-bought ginger, and is commonly used by traditional groups.
Everlasting. People say that a tea brewed from the leaves of this plant treat the symptoms of flus and can still a terrible cough.
Wild Garlic. The bulbs of this plant can be boiled and ingested, much like the African Ginger, to treat coughing and sinuses.

There is a wide range of plants and trees throughout South Africa with various uses and applications which are rather interesting. Many of which have their own place the Traditional Uses of Plants. When you next visit Mabalingwe, consider accompanying our Eco-Tainment Team on the Live Long and Eco Trails to learn more about the incredible biome which is home to our most beloved Nature Reserve.

*This article was written for the sole purpose of creating intrigue into the plant-life in the biomes of South Africa. None of the above-mentioned plants have been proven to cure ailments of any nature, and anyone seeking medical advice should enlist the services of a qualified medical professional.