Three Cities Group is proud to be the new home of Sharks Director of Rugby Brendan Venter’s family business and lodge of 15 years – the four-star Indlovu River Lodge situated on the banks of the Kuvjename River in the Karongwe Game Reserve which borders the Kruger National Park.
Situated 440km from the OR Tambo Airport and 65kms from Hoedspruit, the private family holiday lodge ventured into the public market in 2005 when the three hectare lodge was upgraded and entered the ‘Big 5’ lodge market. Since then the lodge has grown into the ideal ‘Big 5’destination that caters for families of varying sizes as well as couples seeking a more private and intimate recluse.
Envisioning becoming the number one destination for a ‘Big 5’ family experience while offering couples who require an unforgettable private getaway, Venter said that the Three Cities Group’s years of professional success and continuing prosperous partnerships were the reasons that the family chose to engage the management Group to take the Indlovu River Lodge under their wing.
“We are privileged to have entered into a partnership with the Three Cities Group. To be associated with one of the top hotel groups in South Africa has led to great excitement at our lodge. We trust and know that we will only benefit from being able to draw from the renowned expertise and resources of the Group within the safari industry,” said Venter.
Three Cities Group Managing Director, John Creighton said that the Group was looking forward to enhancing and fulfilling the Indlovu River Lodge’s vision.
“South Africa is one of most popular safari destinations in the world and the Indlovu River Lodge is the ideal destination for local and international guests alike who are seeking a unique safari experience in the African bushveld. Their game activities provide a very good chance of seeing the Big 5, Africa’s most sought after animals, and their safe lodge surroundings, children’s programme and outdoor activities make the lodge an attractive destination for families.”
The lodge is currently managed by Stuart Barr and Sandra Kessler Barr, who both bring a wealth of international experience and are versed in Italian and German.
The lodge’s history started in 1992 following a dream to live in the African bush. The Venter family discovered a piece of land next to the Kuvjename River and immediately fell in love with it and they decided to move from the city into the bush.
Within a few years four chalets were built in which the whole family lived together. Over the years Dawn Venter with her passionate green fingers has nurtured a blooming garden with numerous indigenous trees from the bushveld.
Formerly the land and the surrounding area were used for cattle farming but in 1998 the seven landowners decided to drop their fences and create a Big 5 conservancy. Gradually wild animals were re-introduced, with elephants and lions strolling through the Venter’s gardens. Subsequently the lodge’s surrounds had to be fenced to keep pesky tuskers from destroying the gardens.
The Venter family always wanted to share their little piece of paradise with other people. So after the Venter’s sons moved on, the idea of a private game lodge was born and soon after its gates opened to travelling guests.
Describing the chalet offerings and unique layout Venter said: “Three generously laid out chalets, each with swimming pools and bomas as well as three private double suites, are available to our guests. Each building is built of stone with thatch roofing and named after one of the famous tuskers: Kambaku, Shingwedzi; Shawu and Ndlulamithi.
Because we like to deliver a personal and guest-oriented service we aim to accommodate no more than 10 fully inclusive guests at the lodge at a time. Each set of guests are booked into their own private chalet or superior suite to ensure maximum privacy and exclusivity. ”
- Kambaku can accommodate up to nine people in three double en-suite rooms on the ground floor, and one further double room and a single bed on the first floor.
- A large rock pool and an adjacent pool deck overlooking the Kuvjename River is the dominant feature of this chalet.
- A big boma for barbecuing under the stars and a trampoline make it an ideal family home.
- The fully equipped kitchen, which is open to the dining area and living room, is the heart of this chalet.
- Shingwedzi is a superior chalet accommodating up to four people. The separate Garden Suite can also be included to allow for a total of six guests.
- The chalet features a very elegant open kitchen and lounge, two en-suite rooms in the main house and one further double room in a secluded annex across the gardens.
- A timber veranda, plunge pool and private boma provide idyllic vantage points onto the Kuvjename River and the spectacular Drakensberg Mountain Range in the distance.
- Shingwedzi is ideal for couples or families.
- Chalet Shawu consists of two double en-suite bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen and a small library for lounging. The Honeymoon Suite and Ndlulamithi Suite can also be included to accommodate up to eight guests.
- Attached to the main house is a large dining cum lounge area with a distinct African feel as well as a large terrace for brunching or dining under open skies.
- The large dining area easily lends itself to a conferencing facility with a projection screen and flip chart provided.
- A gazebo right on the river’s banks is unique to Shawu’s gardens which also feature a pool and boma for barbecuing.
- Chalet Shawu is suited for both families and couples and it may also be booked as a conference venue.
THE SHAWU HONEYMOON SUITE
- Located on Shawu’s premises it features a king-size bed, expansive glass front view onto the river and secluded outdoor shower in the midst of a mini tropical garden.
THE NDLULAMITHI SUITE
- A brand new, modern décor, superior suite featuring an open planned bathroom is tucked away in the far corner of the lodge’s grounds. The front of this suite is made up of glass folding doors which open up onto a large deck and infinity pool.
Currently the lodge offers an early morning and late afternoon game drive on the 9 000 hectare Karongwe Game Reserve. Guests may encounter the Big 5 on the reserve with leopards seen regularly; giraffe, cheetah, spotted as well as brown hyena and numerous nocturnal species such as genets, civets, porcupine, bush babies and aardvark.
Bird lovers are in for a sighting treat, with more than 350 species of birds on the reserve. The lodge features several bird baths scattered around the lodge’s beautifully tended gardens and a custom built look-out point.
By the coming season the lodge will also offer guided bush walks with a qualified trails guide as an alternative to the drives.
Reputed for being a child-friendly fenced in lodge, Venter said one of their upcoming unique attractions for the younger brood would be a dedicated children’s activities co-ordinator and an array of activities.
“Families with children of all ages are very much welcome. We know our younger guests like to be active and creative and so a dedicated children’s programme will be up and running shortly. Upon arrival welcome cookies and a kiddies pack including a safari activity book, crayons, beads, toys and a little something sweet will await our juniors.
A children’s co-ordinator will then whisk the little ones on explorative excursions within the fenced property or on short mid-morning drives onto the reserve. Children’s snack packs and animal check lists will keep the little ones content on drive.
Parents can slink away to a snooze or cocktail by the pools while the kids are busied with a variety of arts and crafts such as painting, making cards, puppets and masks, baking pizzas and cupcakes, beading, basic survival skills and face painting. African bedtime stories will finish off each day of safari action and a junior ranger certificate is a great memento to take back home.”
In addition attractions such as Bourke’s Luck Potholes, God’s Window, The Three Rondavels, Graskop, Pilgrim’s Rest, the spectacular Blyde River Canyon as well as the legendary Kruger National Park are all on the lodge’s doorstep.
But certainly the highlight for Venter and his team was in March this year, when the lodge hosted a rhino chipping event in which SA’s cricket legends Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis funded this vital conservation activity through their participation.
Venter explained: “During this event, three of the rhinos were fitted with micro-chips and notched. Additionally tissue samples were taken for a DNA database and identification purposes. In light of the current drama regarding the poaching of rhinos in SA, these precautions needed to be taken to protect the reserve’s animals from poaching.
Both Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis assisted with manoeuvring of the animals into a safe position, monitoring the vital signs (breathing rates, heart rates, temperature), taking measurements for data collection, holding the horns steady for drilling purposes to fit the microchips, notching the ears as well as pouring water over the animal to keep them from overheating.
These activities all took place under the supervision of seasoned wildlife veterinarian Dr. Peter Rogers and the Wildcon team. The Indlovu River Lodge provided the accommodation, catering and transports for its high-profile guests and also provided the venue for TV interviews related to the cause.”