This safari lodge run by a French couple is a model of sustainable luxury. At a time when South Africa has just reopened its borders, SoBARNES opens the doors of Esiweni for you, an altogether different Relais & Châteaux.
More than a lodge, Esiweni is a jewel hidden in the heart of Nambiti, one of South Africa’s finest private reserves, between Johannesburg and Durban, at the heart of Zulu country. Nestled at the top of a cliff overlooking the Sundays River, the lodge is run by its owners, Ludovic and Sophie Caron, who left Paris in 2015 in order to (successfully) try their hand at the African adventure. Luxuriously furnished, Esiweni can accommodate 10 people in its 5 independent suites, each offering a private deck to enjoy the panorama of the surrounding savannah and bush. An experience that will be even more breathtaking from the infinity pool. “We are alone in the world when we are here”, says Ludovic Caron. “But civilization is not so far away, you only have to travel 18 miles on a track to find the road!”
The meals prepared by chef Crystla Wentzel (trained at Michel Rostang’s!) pay a sumptuous tribute to great French cuisine, with a special mention for breakfast, served in the fresh morning air on the terrace watching the animals drinking from the river… The fresh produce, guaranteed GMO-free, comes from the surrounding farms, as the lodge is part of a sustainable and rationally-managed environmental approach. In true South African style, every day, on board an open 4x4 vehicle, Esiweni guests can discover the splendours of the reserve, accompanied by an experienced, armed and French-speaking ranger.
Although long-distance travel is not a priority in this period of pandemic, there’s nothing stopping us planning for the future... So what’s the best season to come to Esiweni? “We are at an altitude of almost 4,000 ft, with temperatures of between 18 and 28°C and cool nights”, says the owner. “The dry season, which corresponds to the southern autumn and winter, lasts from May to October. The landscape is dry, so you can see the animals well, but it is difficult to get close to them. From November to April, during the rainy season, the grass is very high and the animals are closer. That said, we close in June because the days are too short”.
And the traditional little extra, in a 100% SoBARNES confidential mode : “For the French touch, we welcome our guests with a glass of champagne, which is quite rare in the bush,” adds Ludovic… “And I always have pastis in my bar, which is probably unique in South African lodges. But, for both practical and environmental reasons, the wines come from here. And they are excellent.”
Esiweni Luxury Safari Lodge
Nambiti Private Game Reserve, Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal – AFRIQUE DU SUD
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