At first sight, the lodges at the new Becks Safari Lodge look a little, well, stark. Instead of the traditional stone and thatch style of many safari chalets, Becks has gone for 11 suites with tin roofs over canvas walls, nicely spaced along a wooden walkway that’s raised to deter the predators.
Inside, each chalet is beautifully decorated with safari chic and the luxury defies the practical-looking shell. Wide glass doors open onto a private balcony looking into the bush, there’s a large bath and an outdoor shower, a massive bed and a writing desk with coffee-making kit on top.
Follow the long wooden walkway to the traditional main lodge and you’ll find large lounges and a dining area that lead onto a big wooden deck where you can sit and wait for the animals to arrive. There’s even a good sized swimming pool and a spa, where treatments include a 90-minute Wood Massage that involves beating out any knots of tension using a wooden device like a dumbbell. Which is more fun than it sounds! In the reception area a gift shop sells leather safari hats from the family-owned tannery that funded the owners’ expansion into game reserves.
Often on a safari trip you don’t get much time to enjoy the lodge itself, but here it’s almost worth missing a game drive just to unwind in the stylish surroundings. Not that you’ll want to miss too many drives when guide Sondy Mathole and tracker Freddy Magomame are in charge. They got us so close to elephants that one massive surly male picked up a jacket a tracker had left on the bonnet and slung it into the air with a flick of his intimidating trunk. A massive bellow of indignation warned us who’s the real king of these plains.
Becks sits in Kapagwe Private Game Reserve near Hoedspruit, and the economical building style of the chalets means it’s pitched at a price not too ridiculous for rand-toting South Africans.