We’ve just come back from a lovely weekend away. For me, it was partially work but for my husband it was pure relaxation.
Shiluvari Lakeside Lodge is nestled in the lush greenery by Albasini Dam, in the heart of mystical Venda in the North-East of the Limpopo Province. If the views of the dam and the rolling mountains on the other side are not enough to make you feel relaxed, then surely the chilled pace and the quietness only interrupted by chirping birds and the occasional vervet monkey should do the trick. The staff are attentive and friendly without being overbearing, and the owners (who’s ancestors came as Swiss missionaries that ended up staying and founding the local hospital amongst other things) will tell you many interesting stories over a glass of wine or two on the verandah. The spa, Earth Sense, also offers very reasonably priced massages with local products such a Baobab oil and salt from the nearby Soutpansberg.
One of the main attractions of Shiluvari (over and above the total relaxation) is the nearby Ribolla Art Route. The area is full or artists, such as woodcarvers, sculptors and clay pottery. With a local guide, you can drive straight into the local communities and visit these artists in their studios which are often located in or near their homes. You will not only meet the artists themselves, but also their families, dogs, chickens and goats!
Some of the artists are widely known, such as Noriah Mabasa and the recentlt deceased Jackson Hlungwane, others have their art more as a hobby and income diversification. Either way, they are all very proud of their work and more than happy to welcome you to their humble studios and homes. Although conversations often have to be translated by your guide, you will leave with a much deeper understanding of the people that live in the area surrounding Shiluvari.
When you return back to the lodge after a full day on the Ribolla Art Route (and probably loaded with amazing buys!), you will be greeted with a table set on the verandah in preparation for your 3-course dinner. The kitchen staff will provide you with an oh so well-cooked meal made from locally sourced ingredients.
The gardens surrounding the lodge are full of local art, like woodcarvings, pots and sculptures. If you want to venture a bit further afield, bring a birdbook or ask Samson, the resident bird guide, to come with you. The place is teeming with birds!
Shiluvari is also Fair Trade certified, meaning that you know that their staff are treated, and paid, well and that they invest in the local community and look after the environment.