A hidden gem to visit

SOUTH Africa is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

But as its citizens we often forget this aspect since we have a nasty tendency to focus on the negatives.

My recent trip to Mpumalanga reminded me of what we have as a people. The four seasons, the high mountains, beautiful rivers and blue skies are some of the things we should take pride in.

Mpumalanga, one of the treasures of our universe, welcomed me and my younger sister Motlatsi.

The four-hour journey saw us stopping along the route to appreciate the green landscapes of the province.

It was refreshing to be outside the borders of Gauteng.

After hours of driving and playing good tunes, the Audi Q7 V12 TDI directed us to our destination.

The navigation was precise and about 36km outside White River we reached another hidden treasure.

The Audi took us to beautiful tall trees. We followed the instructions and a short while later a sign appeared. This was it. My sister looked at me and smiled as a sign of relief (she hates long-distance journeys in a car).

A few minutes later, we approached a steel gate and a male security guard appeared. After greeting us, he asked for our names, checked his register and opened the gate.

"At last," said Motlatsi.

I manoeuvred through the thick forest on a narrow gravel road. Finally, I saw a building and then followed the reception signage.

We had arrived at our destination - Cybele Forest Lodge and Health Spa.

Two ladies wearing big smiles appeared from the building and walked towards our car to welcome us. We introduced ourselves and the ladies took us to the reception area.

This place was a real surprise. Our hosts explained everything about the lodge. One of the ladies showed us around before we went to our suite.

First she took us to the gym (that looked deserted) and understandably so. She assumed we were health freaks. After the gym we headed for the dining room, lounge and bar area.

This bar is where I will spend my two nights, I thought. But only until the lady informed us that we were booked for the spa treatment the following morning at 11am.

Nothing beats a beautiful full body massage in the middle of the jungle on the other side of White River. So the idea of the bar fell away.

It was time for us to be taken to the place we would call home for the next two days, Paddock suite 11. Our host opened the door and guided us into the suite. After showing us how everything worked she left us to enjoy ourselves.

After a few moments of connecting with our souls, I changed into my swimsuit and jumped into the pool.

Our suite consisted of a private swimming pool, which made it easier for a bad swimmer like me to just enjoy the water without feeling embarrassed.

Cybele Forest Lodge and Health Spa is indeed a pleasant surprise in the middle of nowhere.

Modern meets ancient furniture and that was enough to make one feel the peace in the air.

The private pool and outside shower were a bonus. This thatched roof suite consisted of one bedroom and bathroom en suite. It also had a balcony-cum-bedroom above the sitting room.

The three wooden sliding doors made it easy to access the garden and pool area.

This was the only shower I used during my stay. The hour-long spa treatment was magical. This was the place to escape the stressful city life and find inner peace.

The lodge serves mouthwatering meals without trying too much.

There are numerous activities for guests. For those who hate sitting around can go for horse riding, hot air ballooning and even a helicopter adventure.

The lodge consists of six cottages and six suites including the most luxurious suite called the forest suite.

Rates range from R1850 for a garden cottage (base accommodation) per person sharing, to R3995 for the luxury suite in the forest.

These rates can go up to more R8000, depending on additional treats.

Cybele is worth visiting.