The passion project of a South African couple, Makweti is a boutique safari stay on the 40,000-hectare Welgevonden Game Reserve.
Even though it’s a three-hour drive from Joburg, it’s much closer than Kruger National Park with a fraction of the tourists – so you get the Big Five all to yourself (and, really, you do). On arrival, a jeep takes you to the entrance where a warm, only-in-Africa embrace awaits.
Baboons, mainly, and the odd elephant (animals roam freely around the site). Otherwise, Makweti’s two-person lodges are primed for couples and families with older kids.
Dine with fellow guests on a communal table above the treetops sharing stories of the day’s safari. On the menu: impala steaks and crunchy cauliflower salad worthy of a five-star kitchen in a capital city: pretty good for a wooden hut in the wilderness.
Well-spaced-out thatched lodges are cosy with chunky walnut furniture and decorated with objects from all over the continent – colourful Kenyan beaded headdresses adorn the walls and mirrors are made from wood from old miners’ beds. Each room has a roll-top bath, indoor and outdoor rain shower (some with private plunge pools – a popular hang-out for the local baboons). Even so, it’s comfy and price-justifyingly luxe; absolutely no survival skills needed here.
Daily sunrise and sunset safaris (both four hours long) are included and are brilliant – which makes Makweti a seriously good-value proposition when compared to South Africa’s many four-figure alternatives. There are no more than six people to a jeep – and, with only five rooms, the lodge has a genuinely home-y feel and never feels over-occupied. I had the pool and the viewing deck to myself most evenings – just me and a dazzle of zebras; yes, really.