Richard Branson’s Ulusaba game reserve


Guests at the exclusive game reserve have included Will Smith, Hugh Dancey and presenter Anthea Turner as well as Richard Branson and his family
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Lunch is often served on the sundecks, while traditional afternoon tea is offered on the patio

Once back from their animal scouting guests can relax in the hotel grounds which include an infinity pool built around a natural waterfall and a spa centre

Each room has air conditioning and its own private deck to watch the sun set over some of the continent’s most spectacular scenery

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27 JANUARY 2004
“Discover the soul of Africa, where the forces of nature bring together a wilderness of beauty, spectacular wildlife and adventures that will remain with you for a lifetime.” That’s the promise to visitors at Ulusaba, the exclusive game reserve owned by British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson. Located on the border of South Africa’s Kruger National Park, the reserve features two unique hotels.

Acquired by Branson in 1999, this private reserve offers first-class opportunities to get close to Africa’s “big five” animals. It also pampers guests – who have recently included actors Will Smith and Hugh Dancey, presenter Anthea Turner as well as Richard and his family – with gourmet food, fine wines and even a relaxing massage or facial at one of its two hotels: Safari Lodge or Rock Lodge.

At the latter, perched atop a dramatic outcrop, luxurious rooms and suites designed in traditional colours and decorated with weavings make for a true Out Of Africa experience. Each has air conditioning and its own private deck to watch the sun set over some of the continent´s most spectacular scenery. If privacy is important to you, and your budget allows, you can do what the stars do, and rent the entire property for you and your friends.

Within the grounds are an infinity pool built around a natural waterfall and a spa centre, while tennis courts and a gym are other options. There is a library of DVDs, CDs and books available for guests, as well as talks on animals, birds and conservation.

A typical day starts before dawn with tea and refreshments served on the main terrace, before you’re invited to hop into a four-wheel drive for a morning safari, where sightings of the “big five” – elephant, buffalo, lion, rhino and leopard – are apparently guaranteed. Then it’s back to the lodge for a hearty breakfast and free time for sunbathing, swimming or a beauty treatment. For the active visitor, walking safaris with an armed ranger and tracker can be arranged.

Lunch is often served on the sundecks, while a traditional afternoon tea is offered on the patio. The evening game drive stars around 4pm, with sundowner drinks served in the bush, followed by a brief night drive to search for nocturnal animals. Dinner time brings more fine cuisine, with a blazing fire and tribal singers and dancers.

For the ultimate romantic experience, Ulusaba’s expert staff can also organise your wedding. The ceremony can be held at one of the lodges or in the heart of the bush under a canopy of trees, with bamboo torches and African drums creating a unique and magical ambience.

If you are inspired by the call of the wild and in search of more information on Rock Lodge and the simpler and less formal Safari Lodge visit www.ulusaba.com.

The best time to visit the area is generally considered to be June-October.

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