umSisi House. White River. Greater Kruger National Park. South Africa
Why we love it
This charming home is situated in the Jock of the Bushveld conservancy just outside of White River in South Africa's Lowveld, 15 minutes drive to Kruger National Park and numerous private game reserves and very close to the magnificent Blyde River Canyon. It's an informal but gracious escape for private groups of families and friends, and you are personally welcomed by owners Paddy and Amanda Bond Gunning, who ensure that great food, fine wines and authentic hospitality is very much a part of your 5-star experience.
What to expect
The stylish property, decorated in a combination of classic English and Afro chic, can accommodate 10 people in 3 en-suite bedrooms in the main house and a further 2 bedrooms sharing a double-shower bathroom in the private adjoining cottage. The beautiful patio and private pool is surrounded by sub-tropical gardens and mature trees, with vistas towards the famed Lions Head. The chef's kitchen and dining room are delightful places to sit, chat and appreciate wine from Paddy's excellent cellar. There's also a beautiful lounge with a cosy fireplace for chilly evenings and authentic arts and crafts, lovingly sourced and artfully displayed, each with its own story to tell. There's a separate TV and computer room, plus shelves of interesting books.
What to do
umSisi can arrange day outings into the Kruger National Park (15 minutes drive) or to Blyde River Canyon (largest green canyon in the world), God's Window and other viewpoints and the quaint historic mining towns of Pilgram's Rest and Barberton. Other wild experiences are visits to the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, Elephant Whispers for elephant interactions and riding, and Jane Goodall's Chimp Eden. You can also go trout fishing, hiking, mountain biking, canoeing, horseriding, paragliding, plus hot air ballooning and helicopter flips for amazing views of this dramatic landscape. There are also some great golf courses nearby.
Kids The Lucky Bean Kids Club welcomes childrens of all ages and Amanda and Paddy will help you plan your activities to keep the kids busy outdoors, learning about the natural world around them. This is a relaxed home from home with a large garden to explore and a big swimming pool. Dog lovers are in for a treat; Bella and Saxon are adorable! For those who aren't too keen on dogs, they are disciplined and well trained and will stay out of your way if you prefer.
The good news
Going Green is considered to extremely important and they have solar power hot water, spring-water tanks and indigenous trees in a water-wise garden.
How to get there
The house is a short 15 minute drive from Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA). Or you can hire a car in Johannesburg and enjoy a 4 hour or so scenic journey. We recommend combining umSisi with one of our other private safari villas nearby for a relaxing end where nobody will wake you early for a game drive!
When to visit
We love the dry winter months (May to August) as Kruger game viewing is easier due to less dense vegetation. The summer (December to March) has its benefits with lush surroundings, hot summer days, breathtaking electrical storms and plenty of new babies born in the bush.