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What do you do when you receive an invitation to attend a media trip to Kingfisher Villa? You say yes without hesitation. Although, for me, this trip would hold a few firsts: my first time travelling solo, only my second time on a plane, and my first time in Limpopo. I live by the quote, ‘A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there’. So,
I leapt out of mine.
After saying yes, I went straight to good ’ol Google and searched for Kingfisher Villa. A sight I thought I would never get to experience first-hand popped up on the screen: a luxurious villa in the heart of the African bushlands

Kingfisher Villa opened in January 2023 in Mabula Private Game Reserve, also called the jewel of Limpopo. The villa is around a two-hour drive from Johannesburg, and its five lavish suites sleep 10 guests, making it the perfect getaway for a large group. Small individual groups are also welcome.

Mabula Private Game Reserve is a 12 000 ha home to the Big Five and many more wildlife. Not to mention more than 300 bird species that make it the ultimate getaway for birding enthusiasts. If you plan to visit in summer, prepare for scorching weather. Temperatures tend to rise into the high 30s and, in some cases, the 40s. It’s best to pack accordingly. I made the mistake of packing only one pair of jeans and a light sweater for cool temperatures.

Upon arrival, Head Chef Marco and our lovely hostess awaited us with a cool towel and an ice-cold glass of bubbly. It was a warm welcome from the get-go, and the staff continued to impress us throughout our stay. Up next was a tour of the villa that left me speechless – the first of many such moments. The tasteful African decor was attention-grabbing. The dining room had a massive glass table accompanied by elegant chairs that looked fit for royalty.

The bar area offered various drinks. The lounge area boasted a gigantic television and the most comfortable couches. Heading upstairs, we found a mezzanine lounge that spilt onto a deck overlooking the bush and Mvubu Dam. Hippos, a resident croc and other wildlife sometimes visit this dam for a splash or drink. It promised to be an authentic nature-at-your-doorstep experience. Our butler was kind enough to take me through all five bedrooms, each as luxurious as the last.

The biggest of the five, the Giant Suite, looked like something you would find on a celeb’s Pinterest mood board – if they had one. It has a walk-in closet and a massive (and I mean massive) bathroom with a shower and bathtub straight out of a spa commercial. But don’t think that the other rooms aren’t as stunning. Each bedroom has a flat-screen television mounted across from the bed. The spacious rooms have a coffee and tea nook, a desk for those – like me – who need to catch up on emails (work hard, play hard, you know?). And the air con is a godsend on sweltering summer days. Stepping outside, we were greeted with a view of the dam. In just a few steps, we were at the rim-flow swimming pool and outdoor loungers for lazy days.

After our tour and a light lunch, spa therapists pampered us with a foot and hand massage. Then came the moment I had been excited about since first scrolling Google: my first game drive. Our guide, Tshepo, made that first even more special. He has been at Mabula for about three years, is knowledgeable and passionate about his job and makes an extra effort to ensure visitors see and experience as much of the wildlife as possible.

Warthog, buffalo and zebra were the first animals we spotted. And then, when Tshepo switched off the safari vehicle’s engine, my attention wandered to the thick bushes a few metres from us. There they were, my favourite animals, elephants, crossing the road while munching on leaves. I ticked another first off on my bucket list. We saw giraffe, eland, hyena, cheetah, wild dog, and more. Luckily, we visited when most animals had brought new life into the world, from baby zebras to lion cubs and lanky giraffes. Tshepo stopped for sunset drinks on evening game drives or coffee on early morning ones, preparing our refreshments with maximum effort, even carefully adding flowers and greenery to his displays.

I enjoyed horse riding through the bush with a guide who knew each tree at Mabula by name (in more than one language) and safari quad biking. There are also guided bush walks, stargazing, sunset picnics and hot-air balloon safaris. One of the best things about staying at Kingfisher Villa is that you can design your own itinerary. The same is true for your menu.

Marco served breakfast, lunch and dinner to my liking. And I could rest assured that no matter what Marco put on my plate, it would wow me. I still dream about his seafood pasta. Dinners took place around the dinner table or at the outdoor firepit, the perfect way to relax and unwind after a day of adventuring.

When I retired to my bedroom, a small treat awaited me on my bedside table to end the day on a sweet note. Then, I drifted off to sleep in a bed that felt like a cloud and dreamt about my day. And I couldn’t wait to do it all again when I woke up!

Male buffaloes’ horns grow from the top of their head, almost like a helmet, to protect them during fights.
Like humans, elephants are either left- or right-handed. How to tell? Look for the shorter tusk, as that’s the one they use most.
Male warthogs have four tusks that curl outward, while females have two that curl inward.
Some animals, like impalas, have white and black markings (in the case of impala, these are on the
rump) that act as a ‘follow me’ to alert the rest of their species of danger.

Conservation projects are a priority for the conservation team at Mabula. Projects they’re involved in include:
Mabula Ground-Hornbill Project
Introducing a pack of wild dogs
Endangered Wildlife Trust Cheetah Metapopulation Project

Kingfisher Villa Suites villa at night

By Bianca Muller | Women & Home Magazine

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