With the Corona Virus currently wreaking havoc across the globe, we have been forced to re-evaluate how we literally do everything. No one-thing has been left untouched by the virus; from grocery shopping to the common greeting (that is, to say, when we are allowed out of the house). The world, as we know it, will never be the same again.
And I think that is a good thing.
While necessity is the mother of invention, disruption is the incubator of change. Much will thus change and morph over the period that lies ahead, but I believe we will emerge better for it. Unless you are plain stupid and living your best life right now (the Oxford English Dictionary defines this as: your usual, non-corona-change-inspired life).
The travel industry will probably be one of the most heavily effected. Think about it – the entrepreneurial nature of its thought-leaders and innovators and the very essence of the service provided. So I decided to start thinking differently, as of now. And start featuring more content with a staycation focus to motivate you during this time. Let’s support our local tourism guys and girls and start preparing, not updated bucket lists, but rather a Corona List – a list of hope, of the things we are going to do when we are allowed more freedom of movement.
So, herewith, my Staycation Spot Number 1. And she’s a beauty!
A Quick Hop Up to Limpopo
My invite to join Tintswalo co-founder Gaye Corbett for a few days at their newest lodge, came in what feels like another era. This era was marked by unbridled joy flowing from unlimited travel options and a general air of carefreeness. As well as a helicopter ride up to the camp (rather than a three hour transfer by road). In fact it turned out to be a rather genius move to arrive by helicopter, as it gave me a sense of the scale and remote setting of the place I was to call home for the next few nights.
A Heritage Steeped in Conservation
Nestled in the heart of a UNESCO declared Waterberg Biosphere Reserve and the only Savannah Biosphere Reserve in the world, the 44 500 hectare Lapalala Reserve forms part of South African conservation history. Established in 1981 and since on the forefront of nature conservation, Lapalala was the first reserve to acquire five black rhinos in 1990 for this purpose. Today only two lodges are operated in the reserve, with a third concession issued but not yet operational.
I was well placed for some time out in the heart of the bush and some rather interesting experiences. But first I chatted to my host, Gaye Corbett, about the thinking behind the lodge and why Tintswalo decided on this location in particular.
A Family Affair
Before going on this trip, I knew that Tintswalo was a family business. Many establishments use this line and garner all the goodwill they possibly can from this one-liner. But Tintswalo takes it to another level; not in a contrived manner, but because that is who the founders, the husband and wife team of Ernest and Gaye Corbett along with daughter Lisa Goosen and her husband Warwick, actually are at their very essence. I was to experience this in so many little ways over the duration of my stay at the lodge. It remains the most pervasive impression of my time there, that I retain to this day.
A Place to Relax and Unwind
The attention to detail in all aspects of your stay, both at the lodge and in your private tent, are on-point here in the heart of the bush. Each tent has its own private plunge pool overlooking the bush and central watering hole and is the perfect spot for game viewing before you take the requisite afternoon nap.
Rethink Your Downtime
As much as the lodge is a place to take things easy for a time and reconnect with mother nature, the activities on offer reflect Gaye’s love of people and experiences. From a late afternoon barge ride on the river and champagne with the resident hippos, to lunchtime picnics along the mighty Palala river, complete with bedouin tents to shelter you from the mighty African sun as you lounge on persian rugs, sampling the pop-up gin bar.
But it doesn’t end there. Heading back to the lodge after your evening game drive, with the light of the moon as the only guide, one would think activities were done for the day. Not. At. All. A sneaky right turn and I found myself at a bush stop celebrating delicacies from across our diverse African continent. Mopani worms too. The moon was truly a sight to behold and I couldn’t help snapping a few shots, while sipping on yet another G&T.
The Local Wildlife
The greater Lapalala Reserve does not dissappoint when it comes to the resident wildlife. Due to the exceptionally low human and vehicle density, the connection with the animals is something to cherish. The game vehicle takes you deep into the bush and results in some phenomenal sightings.
Conservation at Tintswalo Lapalala extends beyond the wildlife, as the lodge seeks to control their carbon footprint. Upon leaving, each guest is gifted with a Spekboom plant (read here why you should plant it in your garden at home) to continue the fight against climate change.
Get Some Bush Magic Staycation For Yourself
The folks at Tintswalo really want you to come and enjoy their homegrown hospitality for yourself, at the appropriate time. Specials are in the pipeline and waiting to be activated once our restrictions have been lifted. There’s never been a better time to get that Corona List going, and now you have the first entry!
A big thank you to Gaye and her team for hosting me for a magical time away. There is so much more I could tell you about this fantastic property, but I think some things are best left as a surprise.
This post will be updated as matter progress.