The enchanting zebra, enigmatic Africa and nostalgic safari. All phrases that are associated with, and come to mind, when spending time in South Africa. You maybe would not think of funky Spaza or celebratory Madiba. Indulgent romance though would be an option. These are not just words and phrases with African associations. They are the names of some of the rooms at Lions Valley Lodge.

Our room was the enchanting zebra and it was exactly that. The spacious polished floors had zebra skin rugs; the lounge area contained a black leather couch and two black & white striped comfy chairs. The walls had both a zebra print canvas and a large original group zebra portrait. Even the bathroom mirrors were framed in zebra fur, its mane perfectly central to the mirror.

Attention to detail is close to perfection and judged so as not to be over bearing. Mixed in with the black & white are rustic chairs, tables, baskets and bowls. Twin sinks and baths have pebbles for tap handles. The colours mix beautifully with the stone and thatch that surround.

Every room is ‘themed’ and all very cleverly designed and created. Coke-a-cola bottle chandeliers, tin mug light stands, barb wire wall hangers and historical prints are mixed & matched.

The main lodge itself surprised me by its size. It was far bigger than I had envisaged. From the opposite side of the valley the thatch roofs seemed to just blend in and not give away the overall size. A thatch covered stairway leads from the drop off point to the Lodge reception area. At the bottom of the stairway a large deck encloses an infinity pool facing a water hole below and the bush beyond. Doorways prior to reaching the sun loungers lead to a bar, restaurant, lounges, library and dining room.

As per the rooms there is a wonderful mix of the traditional, huge wooden beams and thatch. Along with the odd quirky twist such as the ‘glitzy mirror ball’ kudu trophy and huge canvas wild dog original artwork.

The staff at Lions Valley complete the mix to ensure your stay is memorable. Duty manager Dari was always on hand along with Charles to offer any advice or assistance. Chefs Richard and Tanya ‘introduced’ each menu to guests at the bar. I could not resist the King Klip and Richards description was followed by a dish cooked to perfection. Eugene, Nana, Dumi and Sister made us feel like we were truly at home.

The Gross family from Switzerland were staying at the lodge on their first trip to South Africa. They were so impressed that they decided extended their stay. Of course it was not only the accommodation that kept them there. We shared a game viewing vehicle with them on drives and they had been lucky enough to encounter lions, elephants, rhinos and buffalos. Maybe after our departure they got to see the elusive leopard to? Koert, our guide, was a keen tracker and on request from the Gross family had managed to find four of the ‘Big 5’ along with many other species of game that the northern section of the Nambiti reserve was home to.

The owners of Lions Valley should be very proud of their Lodge with its incredible attention to detail. It is a superb mix of ‘people and place’. And the owners are very close to one final word association, Mr & Mrs Lines. When said with a South African accent it could quite easily be Lions.

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People say that Africa has an effect on your soul and Mark Henson the ‘author’ of this site is no exception. He first travelled to South Africa and the province of KwaZulu-Natal in 1993 and has been coming and going every year since. Twice now most years!

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