“Luxurious spa lodges in the Klein Karoo between Cape Town and the Garden Route - a wildlife reserve with some surprising discoveries”
Sanbona offers 3 luxurious lodges and a wilderness experience. Gondwana is the one for families though all have double and twin rooms.
Tilney Manor is a restored 1898 Cape Georgian homestead with 6 suites, a communal lounge and a dining room. Surrounded by gardens, there’s also a lovely porch with views over the Karoo, a shady inner courtyard with a bar, a relaxation retreat with 2 therapy rooms, steam room and sauna, and a deck with rim-flow pool and great views. All of the suites run along the side of the manor and face out to the Karoo wilderness. There’s air-conditioning for summer and a coal fire for winter (though feedback suggests the heating could be better). They are spacious and warmly decorated in creams, beiges and yellows. In addition to the opulent bedroom with a four-poster double bed, there's an open-plan bathroom with a freestanding bathtub, and a private veranda with deck chairs. A shower room and a loo are hidden behind closed doors, while sliding glass doors lead out to a private garden with a double slate shower.
Dwyka Tented Lodge, dramatically situated at the foot of a sheer cliff face and sheltered from the wind, was renovated in 2014. From private decks and plunge pools to private hot tubs and underfloor heating these 9 spacious tents are the bees’ knees. Shower rooms are half indoors, half out, while shared facilities include a game lodge with dining area and bar/lounge (cosy with fires), a spa lodge, a steam room, a wine cellar, an open-air boma and a wine cellar.
Gondwana Lodge has been designed with families in mind and offers ‘Kids on Safari’ programme. Views from the lodge sweep over the plains of Bellair Dam to the Anysberg Mountains. The 12 rooms have indoor showers, private balconies/patios, underfloor heating and all mod cons; family rooms interconnect. There's also a bar/lounge and a dining area with coal fires, a small relaxation retreat, a swimming pool with a shallow area for kids, a children’s playroom, and an open-air boma. The entire area is protected by a perimeter electric fence.
The Explorer Camp 2-night trail package offers a more authentic bush experience. The unfenced minimalist camp has 3 rustic tents and sits in a shaded spot in the northeast of the reserve. Trails run from Friday to Sunday and walks last up to 4 hours. The focus is on experiencing the wilderness so don't expect 5-star luxury; each tent has a bio-box loo, there are only 2 showers and meals are eaten alfresco. Explorer’s Camp is only suitable for those between 16 and 60 years of age and opens from October to April.
Tea or coffee is served in the lounge first thing to help you wake up for your early morning game drive. A full breakfast follows, including fresh fruits, cereals, and eggs and bacon cooked to order. Lunch is a leisurely buffet of cooked and cold meats, salads, cheeses and, for dessert; cakes, tarts or fruit. Dinner at each lodge is a mouthwatering preparation of local produce - "traditional Karoo with a wild twist" to quote a guest. Menus include the famous Karoo lamb and a chance to try various game meats. If staying for more than 1 night, one dinner will always be an outdoor braai (BBQ) - weather dependent of course!
In Tilney Manor breakfast is usually served on the porch, sitting in the shade of an old blue-gum tree overlooking the Karoo and watching the landscape swim into colourful relief. At lunchtime you adjourn to the shady inner courtyard, which also has a full bar. At dinner, the best option is to have your meal brought to your veranda; or there is a cosy dining room seating up to 12.
Gondwana Lodge welcomes children under 12; cots and sleeper couches are available (max. 1 child and 1 baby in the parents' room), and there's a special safari programme for kids. Explorer Camp can only accomodate guests between the ages of 16 and 60.
Older children - by which we would suggest at least 7 years old and with an interest in wildlife - may join the game drives; under 4s are not allowed. Nor may under 16s join the walking safaris.
Teens (over 12)
Gondwana Lodge has family rooms and interconnecting rooms
Babysitting is available by arrangement
Gondwana Lodge is protected by a perimeter electric fence. Children (and parents!) will need good and constant sun protection, though thankfully malaria is not present here