Dovetailing advantageously with the start of the summer holiday season, Letamo Lodge at QWABI Private Game Reserve was launched this past weekend amid great excitement. The family-friendly luxury lodge – the first of three that have jointly undergone an extensive R120 million refurbishment – is settled within the vibrant Waterberg of Limpopo Province. QWABI, meaning ‘African wild cat’ in the local Sesotho language, is a world-class safari destination that has recently been added to the blue chip Newmark Hotels and Reserves portfolio.
Falling within one of only two UNESCO-declared biospheres in Africa, QWABI Private Game Reserve is simply superb. Embedded within the richly diverse savannah biome of the malaria-free Waterberg (meaning water mountain), this geographically wonderous property harbors more than 5,500 species, including several uncommon birds and animals like white-backed night-herons, aardvarks and brown hyenas. In the Waterberg wilderness, which is believed to be more than 2.5 billion years old, the pay-off is the dramatic scenery, as evidenced in the striking landscapes and the extraordinary wildlife that roams this lush locale, fronted by Africa’s ‘Big Five’ – lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros.
Of the latter, QWABI is a refuge for a thriving white rhino population that is under constant hi tech surveillance. Having these prehistoric beasts as part of the safari offering further cements Newmark’s conservation-conscious reputation and the company’s ongoing commitment to the preservation and re-wilding of endemic fauna and flora. With such abundant birdlife, QWABI is a twitcher’s paradise and having one of most prolific Cape vulture breeding colonies nearby means these vulnerable raptors can often be spotted. Daily game drives, enjoyed in the sophisticated comfort of a new fleet of 4×4’s, are a thrill for guests as guides unpack the unique attributes of this vast and ancient region.
Letamo boasts 58 rooms that includes 10 luxury suites with private plunge pools. All have been stylishly reimagined by the Cape Town based design firm Francois Du Plessis Interiors, who have created an Afro-chic ambience to complement the extraordinary environment. Amenities include a padel court, two swimming pools – one of which overlooks a serene watering hole – and a luxury boutique bush spa. Diners will enjoy the elegant main restaurant, intimate dining nooks for couples, and the outdoor boma. Bush dinners under a shimmering night sky are a highlight on the experience agenda and with next-to-zero light pollution, the stargazing at QWABI is unrivaled.
CHILDREN AND CONSERVATION
Letamo’s thoughtfully curated child-friendly safari offering makes it a shoo-in for an impactful family holiday. Activities Co-ordinator Lindsay Whitton is all about building the next generation of budding conservationists and in lieu of this, she has devised the ‘Junior Conservationists Program’ to encourage a deep, long lasting appreciation of the natural world. “At QWABI,” she says, ”conservation underpins our core values and we want to instil this same passion in young children. It’s the way forward and all the activities we offer have this front of mind.” She explains that on arrival at Letamo, each child receives a backpack that contains a hat, a bird and animal list, stationery and reusable straws and water bottles to demonstrate the move away from plastic and to advocate sustainability from the get-go. “There’ll be an opportunity every day to do something age-appropriate both in camp and nearby, with youngsters chaperoned at all times.” Whether it’s learning about tracking, seeing how indigenous seeds grow or hanging out in the Junior Conservation ‘HQ’, youngsters will leave us with a fresh appreciation of nature.”
OPENING IN Q1 AND Q2 OF 2023
The 25-room Babohi Lodge, which will be exclusively for adult guests, will be defined by fine cuisine, refined accommodation (including an opulent presidential-style suite for guests seeking additional privacy) and extensive facilities including a large swimming pool, dedicated wellness spa, fitness center, restaurant, bar, vinotèque and boma. Semela, suited more to groups and corporate getaways will feature 24 guest rooms, as well as a swimming pool, restaurant and bush bar.
QWABI joins the select Newmark portfolio of privately owned game reserves that includes Motswari Private Game Reserve in the Timbavati, neighboring the Kruger National Park; Nkomazi Private Game Reserve in Mpumalanga, Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape and Serengeti Sojourn, a luxury mobile camp that follows the annual migration in East Africa.
QWABI Private Game Reserve is approximately three hours by road from Johannesburg and 60kms from the town of Bela Bela in a malaria-free area. QWABI is easily accessible for self-drive visitors, although guests may also fly into the reserve via helicopter. Accommodation at Letamo Lodge is priced from R6,650.00 per person sharing, per night for full board, including daily game drives.
For bookings, visit https://bookings.newmarkhotels.com/.