Checked in at Cape Town and left on the SA Airlink flight direct from Cape Town to Nelspruit Airport. I boarded plane only to discover I was seated next to the two other lovely ladies who would be joining for the weekend. The getting to know one another and chit chat made the 2hr25 minute flight go very quickly and in no time we were landing at Nelspruit Airport.
We went and collected our luggage - no conveyer belt necessary *got to love small airports* - and went to meet our pilot at the arrivals terminal. We were happy to see the welcoming face of the pilot who arrived a little late. He asked who would like to sit in the front and as I wasn’t feeling hundreds he said it might be better for me to be up front. What a wonderful experience, firstly playing co-pilot and secondly seeing the whole aviation procedure. The pilot played a little joke on me (which ended being the standing joke with all at the lodge) and sincerely said he had to quickly remove the clogs from under the plane and if I could put my feet on the brakes so the plane wouldn’t move! Before I could say anything he got up and left, leaving me with a strained face and taking my job of not letting the plane move very seriously.. he came back shortly after to say I was only kidding and that he had the pressure brakes on – haha – pilot had a fabulous sense of humor.
The flight a little bumpy but considering the size of the plane he did a great job. Was pleased to land, after circling to make sure there was no animals on the run way. We were met on the airstrip by staff with a glass of bubbly or juice and warm towel. Upon arrival at the lodge we met all the friendly and welcoming lodge staff and the lovely couple Ernest and Gaye Corbett, who were absolutely fabulous hosts.
We were each checked into our Explorer suites – I was Lady Kingsley for the weekend and felt quite important as I got to hear the whole history of how each suite was named after an explorer. Each suite has the book about their explorer and at turn down you receive a bed time brief story about your explorer – such a lovely touch.
The rooms are fantastic – so beautiful and tastefully decorated – all suites have the same layout but with a special touch to suit the theme of the explorer. Spacious rooms with sitting area which looks out onto a deck with your own private plunge pool and of course the vastness of the bush. On cold winter nights there is an indoor fireplace to warm the suites. The en-suites also beautifully decorated with Victorian bath and all the luxury amenities you could ask for. Lovely touch was their indoor spacious showers which has the option of opening the glass doors and being exposed to the outdoors!
Our first night for dinner was a surprise boma dinner which was fabulous. Dinner under the stars with a couple of bonfires to warm the chilly air. We had a braai with a difference accompanied with fantastic wines and excellent conversation – have to say it was not only therapy for the soul being in the surroundings but the staff made us laugh from start to finish.
We were allocated wonderful and informative Darren as our guide – the safari experience was unbelievable and Darren’s passion shone through. We saw some excellent game sightings and liked that he didn’t only focus on the Big 5, everything was exciting for him and this made the experience very special. After our first morning game drive we were taken to the river bank for our surprise bush breakfast – just so fabulous and special to be in the middle of the bush and the set up was wonderful.
That evening on our evening game drive once again we had a surprise stop – this time drinks with snacks in the middle of the bush. Tintswalo's fabulous staff was once again were there to greet us, we were in complete awe with the set up and it was all very surreal – nothing was too much for the staff, we felt so welcome and they took care of us from check in to check out. That evening we were seated in the cellar for dinner which is a great venue for honeymooners or a special dinner – more intimate and romantic, surrounded by some excellent wine selection.
On the last night we even had the opportunity to view buffalo from the viewing deck of the lodge and while we were eating dinner a leopard walked through the property which had us all up and about outside sneaking to see if we could see it. Great adrenalin and all the guests that were staying at the lodge got involved which drew much excitement.
I have to say this was one of my most memorable experiences, as with usual educational’s you don’t normally get to experience the facilities for 2 days – so you definitely don’t get a proper sense of the lodge, Tintswalo Safari Lodge definitely stands out. It was an incredible experience and I won’t hesitate to recommend this lodge, besides the 5 star all round service you receive the lodge staff really add to the experience.