Fine times at Tinga
Swimming pool next to the Sabie River
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Article By: Gillian McLarenWed, 04 Jul 2012 8:28 AM
An enormous Jackalberry tree presides over the deck of Tinga Legends Lodge, set in a southern Kruger National Park concession. In its shade, I am nestled in a bed of comfortable cushions absorbing the fecund beauty all around me.
I watch a breeding herd of elephants cross the serpentine Sabie River. This deck is the magical setting where tables are set for lunch. Guests linger here, as there is a view right down the river where a plethora of different animals come to slake their thirst.
After a soporific gourmet lunch I fancy a snooze, but do not want to close my eyes and miss any of the action on the riverbanks. A lazy crocodile basks in the afternoon sun, seemingly oblivious to the bachelor herd of impala edging hesitantly towards the water.
Tinga Legends is a premium lodge with only nine suites, linked through the bush by a wooden walkway. From my suite, which is raised above the veld, I can look far up and down the Sabie River. I count eight kudus, two of which have magnificent horns. The hippo that I had observed grazing earlier in the day, is now in the water.
I am impressed by the spaciousness of my suite, which has a comfortable brown leather couch and chair as part of the lounge area. The king-sized bed clothed in white linen is draped under mosquito nets. Adjacent to that is a bathroom with a bathtub large enough for two.
Opening the glass windows, I feel I am right in the bush while I enjoy a bubble bath with Charlotte Rhys products. Another romantic touch is the double shower with large windows that can be opened to add for an inside/outside feel.
A special feature, and one of the highlights of my stay, is the totally private plunge pool. To my joy - as I bravely enter expecting a chill - it is heated! What indulgence.
One of life’s great experiences is a skinny dip, so to indulge in one in the bush, in a secluded heated pool, is bliss. I then lie on the deck chairs and lazily watch the birds foraging in the trees alongside my suite. I want to check my bird book to identify one I don’t recognise, but am way too comfortable. I will ask Dean, my knowledgeable guide, when I go on another game drive.
Dean is passionate about the bush and is enjoying having an enthusiastic honeymoon couple on our vehicle. The day before, they had asked to explore some of the Kruger and he kindly took them for a six-hour drive through the Park.
Dean is knowledgeable and a born teacher. He is also a formidable driver off-road.
We see a lioness while we are on our evening drive and he stops to watch her. We listen. She is calling. Another lioness appears and Dean is alerted as they start to walk. We track them and when they move into the grasslands Dean follows them in our robust 4x4 vehicle. The light is fading and I wonder if Dean will turn back, but he asks us to be patient as he suspects there may be more lions.
Kenneth our tracker suddenly whispers “maningi ngala: “There are many lions!”
“Oh! There is a kill,” says Dean. To our delight - tinged with fear- we are deep in the bush with eight lions feeding on a buffalo kill. What a sight!
This is the supreme joy of visiting a place like Tinga, in the renowned Kruger Park. We are enthralled as we watch the savagery of flesh being ripped from the recently-killed bovine. The drive home is punctuated with comments about all we have seen, including leopards.
As we enter the open sandy area at the lodge’s entrance, we are surprised and elated to see that our dinner tables have been set up adjacent to glowing lanterns and fire-filled braziers. Tinga does everything with excellence. I order a De Waal Sauvignon Blanc and peruse the menu. The piping hot Potato and Leek soup warms me for the mushroom risotto, followed by an excellent apple crumble with mascarpone.
I enjoy another post-prandial swim in my heated plunge pool and notice the moon; an orange hammock in the heavens.
The next morning, Dean takes me to the Skukuza airport a mere five minutes away. As we leave the precincts of the lodge, we see a black mamba slithering across the road. It rears up to two-thirds of its three-meter length, then swings round and goes back in the direction from which it was coming.
I am entranced by the unusual spectacle. Anything can happen in the bush. Within minutes I am aboard the Federal Air Cessna Caravan and watching Tinga and the snaking Sabie disappear as we climb into the clouds.