Inside the Adults Only Babohi by Newmark

Min Read

Soaking in the untamed beauty of South Africa’s Qwabi Private Game Reserve

Words by Yvonne C Mtengwa

My journey from Dubai to South Africa on this occasion, was curated with a view to help me garner visibility on how one can infuse both a city staycation in Johannesburg, coined Egoli or City of Gold by the locals, with a safari excursion a short drive away from the metropolis. Two nights at The Catalyst by Newmark, nestled in the bustling heart of Sandton, delivered an epicurean experience in the company of new and old friends, coupled with comfortable relaxation in one of Sandton’s newest beacons of modern luxury.

My stay at this boutique apartment-style hotel was a testament to the evolving landscape of hospitality, seamlessly blending sophisticated design, culinary excellence, and a unique appeal to the bleisure traveller. And so as you can imagine, after such a compelling experience in Sandton, I was thrilled to be forging ahead with the next leg of my trip, which would take me to an opulent gem under the Newmark Hotels brand, located in Waterberg’s Qwabi Private Game Reserve.

An almost 3-and-a-half-hour road transfer took us from Sandton City to the entry gates of Qwabi Private Game Reserve, a short drive from the small town of Bela Bela in South Africa’s Limpopo District. The drive-in awakens one to the prevalence of a host of private concessions and game lodges, somewhat indicative of the robust approach to fusing tourism industry development with wildlife protection and resource management. Security is a big part of the Qwabi Private Game Reserve’s ethos, evidenced by the security team expecting my arrival and further confirming the same via telephone communication with the operations team at the lodge. With gates opening and hastily packing away my laptop so I could appreciate the landscape before me, I was ready to embark on the second part of my trip as a guest at Babohi by Newmark.

A Babohi by Newmark welcome

Babohi by Newmark stands as a beacon of opulence in the heart of the wild, built exclusively for adults and combining luxurious design with the rugged allure of the South African bush. I was welcomed by the team at Letam at Qwabi Private Game Reserve, the sister property with a refined offering more focused on families but equally captivating the soul. From then on, I was ferried further into the Reserve onboard a game viewing, which was a perfect herald to the days ahead. It was only a matter of minutes before I witness the first signs of a wildlife activity in a part replete with a host of species, from zebra, ostrich, lions, wildebeest, and always an exciting one for me to see – the endangered rhino.

Upon arrival, I was greeted by a sweeping panorama of the Qwabi Game Reserve, visible through the expansive glass windows and open-air spaces that characterize the main lodge, as well as the suites as I would come to find out later. The open-plan design allows for a seamless flow between indoor and outdoor spaces, inviting the beauty of nature to permeate every corner.

Built on high ground, Babohi by Newmark is an architectural masterpiece; and a celebration of the intentional use of natural materials and textures to bring it all to life. With my welcome drink, after a handwashing ritual using soap and scrub also made from nature’s splendour, I took time to appreciate how incredibly immersive the lodge’s main lounge, dining, and pool deck is, hoisted high above the savanna grasslands and suites below. This highly modern and inviting retreat is truly an evocative display of earthy tones, wooden finishes, and warm fabrics that merge with modern coppers, marble finishes, and sophisticated hues that allude to the African skies.

During orientation, I also learned that Babohi by Newmark is set in one of only two UNESCO-declared savannah biospheres in Africa. With a decent number of guests at the lodge, some frolicking in the elevated pool while others seemingly lounged around on the plus blue and brown couches, I settled for my lunch before being carted to my appointed one-bedroom suite, which came with a spectacular indoor/outdoor shower, private pool, satellite TV entertainment station and no restrictions on space by any stretch of the imagination.

All in the Design Details: A Symphony of Elegance and Nature

I’ll harp further on the property’s build, largely because it is quite spectacular. Babohi’s architecture is a masterpiece that blends harmoniously with its surroundings, as the lodge’s design embraces both modern sophistication and the earthy tones of the wilderness. A careful selection of natural materials, such as stone and indigenous woods, creates an ambiance that is at once sumptuous and grounded.

The interior spaces are adorned with curated artworks and bespoke furnishings that pay homage to African heritage. It is quite clear as well how local artisans have contributed their craft to create an atmosphere that reflects both luxury and authenticity. Babohi’s commitment to sustainability is evident in every detail, from energy-efficient lighting to the use of recycled materials, ensuring that the lodge’s footprint remains as minimal as possible.

Each suite at Babohi is a sanctuary of indulgence, offering panoramic views of the surrounding wilderness. The design ethos extends to the accommodations, where modern amenities and traditional craftsmanship coalesce. Private plunge pools and expansive terraces provide an intimate connection with the landscape, allowing guests to unwind in the lap of luxury while immersed in the sights and sounds of the bush. Stepping outside onto my private veranda was literally like walking right into the bush, except I could settle with the comfort of a low-hanging fence to prevent the bigger wildlife from sauntering about my suite unnoticed. I was determined to take the immersive nature of my experience in, and so on the cards were to slow things down a lot from the preceding days in the city, enjoy game drives as they came about, take to my signature poolside moments while chatting with the teams and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding landscape.

Qwabi Private Game Reserve’s Untamed Majesty

Qwabi Game Reserve, the backdrop to Babohi by Newmark’s splendour, is a canvas painted with the vibrant hues of the African savannah. I opted to enjoy my first sunset at the lodge by the pool but made it a point to rise with the other guests at 5am for that rudimentary game drive. Safari enthusiasts will know that no two game drives are ever the same, and because I had seen so many species of wildlife on the 15-minute drive from Letamo, I was keen to set my eyes on the two lionesses and their cubs I had heard plenty about over dinner with a newlywed couple.

Our morning game drive unearthed the vast expanse that is Qwabi; l literally thousands of hectares, teeming with diverse wildlife and boasting landscapes that range from open grasslands to dense woodlands. With the first light peeping over the surrounding hilly terrain in parts, I took in the sounds and smells of the bush as part of my symphony of discovery, led by our expert guide who navigated the terrain with an intimate knowledge of the resident wildlife. And what a joy it was for my first sighting of the morning to be the two lionesses huddled over a fresh kill with their 5 cubs! The following 3 hours led us to herds of wildebeest, elephants roam freely, zebras and kudu grazing beneath the acacia trees. Approaching water bodies that dotted the Reserve also awarded us front-row seating to nature’s theatre, including a herd of hippos wallowing in the water. On board our game viewer, our guide exuded passion, taking us through the reserve’s commitment to conservation, and how Babohi’s mantra ensures that encounters between man and animal occur sustainably and respectfully, equally allowing guests to witness the untamed majesty of Africa in its purest form. Our morning closed off with a coffee stop, also by a meandering river’s bank, where I enjoyed a piping hot cup of coffee doused with an all-time favourite – Amarula Cream.

An Opulent Safari Getaway: Why Babohi Is Unparalleled

Babohi by Newmark offers more than a luxurious stay; it provides an unparalleled safari getaway that transcends the ordinary. Here, the concept of opulence is redefined against the vast canvas of the African wilderness.

First and foremost, the exclusivity of Babohi ensures an intimate and personalized experience. With a limited number of suites, each guest receives meticulous attention, from personalized game drives to curated culinary experiences, and all-encompassing ingredients sourced fresh. The attentive staff, trained to anticipate every need, elevates the level of service to a standard befitting the most discerning travellers.

The lodge’s commitment to responsible tourism is woven into the fabric of the guest experience. Conservation efforts at Qwabi Game Reserve are supported by Babohi, allowing guests to participate in the protection of the natural heritage they come to admire. Engaging in guided game drives with local experts or contributing to community initiatives adds depth to the safari experience, fostering a connection to the land and its people.

Babohi by Newmark’s opulence extends beyond the safari adventures. The lodge boasts a spa that draws inspiration from ancient African wellness rituals, providing rejuvenation amidst the sounds of the bush. Whether indulging in a massage overlooking the reserve or lounging by the infinity pool, guests are enveloped in an atmosphere of sublime luxury.

An easy one for me to return to at any time of year, Babohi by Newmark in Qwabi Game Reserve to me was an invitation to indulge in the extraordinary. Its design, seamlessly blending opulence and nature, sets the stage for an immersive safari experience. The breathtaking location of Qwabi Game Reserve, with its diverse ecosystems and untamed beauty, ensures that every moment at Babohi is infused with the magic of the South African wilderness. For those seeking an opulent safari getaway that transcends expectations, Babohi by Newmark stands as a testament to the harmonious coexistence of luxury and nature in the heart of South Africa’s wild landscapes.

To learn more about Babohi at Qwabi Private Game Reserve, visit



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