After having navigated a series of gravel roads that I thought were going to lead me nowhere, I finally arrived at my destination, Antares Bush Camp.
I am not that great with directions and I have learned NOT to trust Google maps when it comes to gravel roads in a game reserve. However, I was feeling relaxed on this occasion as the roads seemed to be well signposted…up to a point. And then at a particular crossroad, they vanished, leaving me at the mercy of said Google maps.
I faithfully followed the instructions on my phone until I saw a locked gate in front of me and I thought that I had taken the wrong road, but no, there was a small slip road just before the gate that brought me to my final destination without any deviations.
Originally the owner, Ian Owtram, used the premises as a field guide school, but COVID put paid to that venture and he pivoted and turned it around to become a self-catering lodge, with a surprise that will be revealed at the end of this post and that was my actual reason for my visit to this lodge.
This is not MY vehicle, and neither is it the one used to take guests on game drives.
More than 30 years old it has survived those decades in the bush and is still used as the working vehicle at Antares. Held together with string and old canvas, it will probably be around for another 30 years.
When I was first shown my accommodation, I thought that the students had lived in the lap of luxury, but I was reliably informed by the owner, that there had been a LOT of renovation done to turn the property from a school into the luxury lodge that it now is.
With air-con and stunning views from both sides of the bedroom, it was a comfortable space to be in when I was not secreted at the photographic hide which was only a short walk from my room.
A bracing outdoor shower in the early morning before the sun rose! For those who do not wish to brave the weather, there is an indoor shower as well.
The shower head was hand made from copper plumbing fittings and then carefully drilled so that the water all sprayed in the right direction…downwards.
The basin in the bathroom attracted my attention as it was also purpose-built and, once again, the fittings were handmade.
Part of the lodge interior. Light and airy and a great space to relax and spent time with friends over a meal.
Ian likes to let the lodge to either a group of friends or a family so that there are no issues around sharing either the kitchen or any of the public spaces.
This deck is accessed via the reception area and is one of two outside spaces where guests can relax and enjoy themselves.
The pool did look inviting, but time seemed to zip by and I never got the opportunity to try it out.
Did you know that this is the nest of a Spittlebug?
This frothy foam in small amounts isn’t harmful to people, mammals or plants, and spittlebugs are more of an annoyance than a threat. Their harmlessness is often forgotten when their frothy foam negatively affects the look of the plant.
This is the second deck that I alluded to earlier. Ian and I had dinner here on a couple of nights that I was in camp.
It overlooks the waterhole and that means that guests can scuttle down to the photographic hide should any of the local wildlife stop by for a drink.
I am always impressed by exposed woodwork like this. If only I could get this to work at my home in Johannesburg without major alterations.
Have wood, will build. A rather quirky bookshelf that occupies a corner of the main dining area.
The ‘desk’ at the rear of this image is the reception area. There are COVID protocols in place on arrival, but seeing that the camp is single-use there is no reason to walk around wearing a mask or constantly sanitizing. It almost felt like a pre-2020 visit.
At night, the lodge takes on a different ambience.
This is the reason for my visit and the USP(unique selling point) of this lodge as far as I am concerned…the Umgede Photographic Hide, which is where I spent most of my time while here.
There was no reason to be anywhere else, except in the kitchen to make food.
It matters not if there are no large game species to photograph while ensconced in the hide, there is always something that will attract your attention.
There is beauty in the smallest of creatures…
The waterhole is lit at night and some lucky guests have photographed leopards from this vantage point. I was not one of those select few and even though I spent a few late nights ensconced here in the hope that predators would appear out of the darkness.
Antares by night. As a single-use, self-catering lodge this is the ideal place for friends and families to reconnect. Both with each other as well with nature and the tranquillity of the surrounding bush.
To find out what Antares offers, click on their logo above.
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