Bloemfontein … It’s a city that stirs different emotions in each one of us. It’s the home of the Cheetahs rugby team and on the edge of the Kalahari. It is not generally on everyone’s bucket list as a destination but certainly features as a stopover point on the way to Cape Town or on the way back from Port Elizabeth.
Sangiro Lodge is ideally situated near the highway from Joburg as you enter Bloemfontein. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it is clearly signposted and literally only 500 metres from the Kenneth Kaunda off-ramp.
When travelling with small children or fragile elderly passengers, frequent stops make a holiday start from the very beginning! As I entered the lodge, I caught sight of my first inhabitant, an emu … He waited patiently for me to enter and then sauntered back onto the plains that stretched from the gate to the highway.
The cluster of buildings, a mixture of wooden cabins and brick chalets, was a welcome change from the complex living I am used to back home.
Spread relatively far apart, the cabins and chalets cluster around the koppie on the edge of the property, leaving the vast spreading plains for the mixture of wild animals (herbivores only) to meander through. Two of the buildings make up a row of what is termed ‘bachelor units’, each of which houses one or two persons.
I checked in at the warm reception area in the nearby wooden cabin before making my way to my unit to unpack.
Being able to park right outside my room meant that if I was towing a trailer (as most South African families do when going on holiday) I would be able to leave it hitched and packed, and take out only what I needed for the night. Many of the stopover accommodation options in Bloemfontein do not allow for this as they are not chalet-based.
I opened the door and was really surprised. The room was spacious and had a kitchen off to the side. It was beautifully finished with a resin finish throughout. The braai area out front, plus the self-catering kitchen, meant that I could choose to braai – famously South African – or simply cook a meal without having to find a restaurant. The bathroom, although small, was adequate with modern finishes and a rain shower. I must be honest, I love rain showers, so I was captivated from the beginning! The bedroom was well balanced, with the TV positioned high enough to be viewed from the bed. One of my pet peeves about hotel or guest-house bedrooms is that the TV is placed level with the bed and is not visible once you retire.
The kitchen had modern appliances, including a kettle and fridge. I loved it. I was anxious to see around the property and Chris, a friend of the owner Christo Strydom, decided to be my tour guide.
There are three styles of accommo-dation ranging from the bachelor units to wooden cabins on stilts and the newly built brick chalets. The wooden cabins are gorgeous. They’re about 10 years old and have bathrooms the size of a ballroom! I swear I have never seen such big bathrooms anywhere else – they’re almost bigger than my lounge at home. There are two bedrooms with leather chairs for relaxation, and a view of the plains that reminds one of the movie, Out of Africa. The sweeping plains stretch out from one side of the wide verandah. On the other side, the rocky outcrop of the koppie with its umbrella trees gives shade to the cabin. Parking is under a wooden structure allowing shade from the harsh Bloemfontein sun.
The newly finished brick chalets also have two bedrooms and resin finishes. The resin lends a warm touch to the units and it will be years before they begin to date.
The buildings are laid out in such a way that the braai area faces the plains and vehicles are parked at the rear. With springbok, including the rare black variety, dancing in the grass, playful emu running and playing all day long, zebra grazing peacefully and fascinating birdlife all close by, the lodge is ideal for a weekend nature break that is not too far from home, or an overnight stay. For those seeking excitement, the nearby Bains Lodge has three bars, dancing, bands and a bush restaurant. There is also a mall nearby where bored children can seek entertainment.
After spending the evening at the lodge, I felt refreshed but not quite ready to return to the hustle and bustle of Joburg.
From August until December 2017, the lodge will be offering Get It Joburg West readers a unique feature – a refund of their toll fees to a maximum of R150 on arrival at the lodge! And if you arrive on a Friday, they will stock your kitchen with local meat, freshly baked rolls and a small salad for four people to the same value – all ready for your arrival.
Details: Visit www.sangirogamelodge.co.za or call 051 433 4813 to make a reservation.
Get it Joburg West – Dec 2017 / Jan 2018