During the penultimate week of December 2023, Travel & Things undertook a Lowveld road trip that included 3 Sun Destinations properties. Bundox River Lodge was my last destination of the year.
The Lodge derived its name as an appropriation of the word boondocks, meaning ‘rough, untamed country’. In Africa, we would have referred to it as being in the ‘bundus’. And this camp is certainly in the ‘bundus’ but in a good way.
Situated in a prime spot on the banks of the permanently flowing Olifants River, this recently opened luxury tented lodge incorporates style and understated safari design while being cocooned by the surrounding vegetation. Constructed with sustainable eco-principles in mind, all the structures sit in and not on their surroundings.
This is the first view that I got of the lounge/bar/dining area which is to the right of the pool.
From this angle, I had no idea what hidden delights lay on the other side of the protective canvas walls.
A haven of elegance, with a clear and uninterrupted view of the slow-flowing Olifants River.
Did you know?
The Olifants River has its origin between Breyten and Bethal, Mpumalanga Province and enters the Indian Ocean, 560kms later, at Xai-Xai north of Maputo.
It is also known as the Lepelle (Northern Sotho); “slow-flowing” or “distant” and Obalule (Zulu); meaning “long, stretched-out one”, while in Afrikaans it is called Die Olifantsrivier and in Portuguese, Rio dos Elefantes. It is also referred to as iBhalule in Southern Ndebele.
There is also an Olifants River in the Western Cape which drains into the Atlantic Ocean.
In what will become known as the traditional Bundox style, the lodge is a unique marriage of natural, organic wood, enduring canvas, and modern, streamlined design. Here less is certainly more in every sense of the word.
Using only the finest fixtures and fittings, and making certain that the textiles and plush furnishings result in an extravaganza of luxury tented elegance.
A homage to the safari days of yore but updated with a 21st-century twist that is breathtaking in its simplicity and overall feel.
The dining area with a ‘long table’ where all the visitors would sit and share their meals and stories.
There is also a tea and coffee station together with a bar to make certain that the guests are given a variety of beverage options at mealtimes.
I do enjoy this type of inclusive eating as all those who are in the camp have shared similar experiences and therefore have common experiences.
This is why a bush break is so different to a holiday at a hotel, where the guests have nothing in common and very seldom get to meet each other unless they say “Hello” in the elevator.
On the left is a giraffe that we spotted on the way to the camp. On the right is a statue that I found in the lounge at the camp!
I hope that the giraffe has been informed that the ‘sitting’ is over and she can go about her business once again.
A view of the public pool that can be found at the heart of the camp. It is probably one of the ‘bluest’ pools I have ever seen.
However, the weather was not conducive to taking the plunge and I chose to spend the time that I had in camp watching the elephant herds parade along the opposite bank of the river.
No stone left unturned?
The meticulously maintained pathway leads from the public spaces to each luxury tent. There was not a stone out of place.
The view from the deck outside my accommodation. As I was in Tent 1, it felt like I was alone in the camp as there was enough space and vegetation between my accommodation and the next tent to make it seem that way.
If I thought it was impressive from the outside, I was not expecting what awaited me once the doors were slid open.
The stunning interior, a haven of tranquillity set on the river bank and enveloped by the surrounding vegetation.
This luxury tent has all the conveniences that 21st-century travellers require, including a beverage station so that visitors can enjoy a cuppa while looking out the hypnotic Olifants River.
The bathroom had a basin, toilet and a shower that could be seen as either indoor or outdoor.
BTW, it took me a moment to find the taps for the shower, but they are visible just behind the soap and shampoo on the left of the picture.
Although the shower is enclosed, the view allows visitors to feel that they are in the canopy of the surrounding vegetation.
An interesting feature is that the shower tray, usually white plastic or fibreglass, is situated UNDER the wooden decking and is therefore hidden from view.
Lying in bed, enveloped by superior linen, I could look out across the river and more often than not during my visit, there were elephants on the far bank to keep me entertained.
To get in and out of the tent, there are sliding doors rather than flaps with zips, making entrances and exits much easier and somewhat more dignified. It seems that the owners of this camp have taken this type of accommodation to a whole new level.
Watching elephants in the Olifants(River)…
These two young bulls were part of a breeding herd of about 30 individuals that had crossed the river a short way upstream and then wandered back to finally end up right in front of my deck.
I had been watching these two tussle as they walked along the bank. Eventually, they both ended up in the water, still uncertain as to who the more dominant one was. All are part of growing up to be an elephant of substance when they are older and sexually mature.
Time to say goodnight…
At the time of my visit, the camp had been open for less than a year, however, in that short time the owners have managed to establish an amazing property that I am certain will go on to become the benchmark for luxury tented accommodation in the future.
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