An Unplugged Getaway at African Pride Irene Country Lodge
by Zama Ndlovu
With the constant pinging of messages, email notifications and the insistent call of social media, there’s nothing quite like being able to mark everything “Out-of-Office” and disappear, if only for a weekend. More city dwellers than ever are taking mini-breaks to escape, hoping to recharge and achieve more balanced lifestyles in the process.
Zama Ndlovu is no exception – although she’s in love with the bright lights and energetic people of the big city, she’s also recognising the need to feed her soul with quiet moments of reflection. Zama is an accomplished business person passionate about youth development, cuisine and travel. Here’s Zama’s take on her recent lakeside retreat for a weekend of digital detox:
“I adore the city, but sometimes I need some peace and tranquility – and couple time! Most Joburgers imagine that getting away means driving for a few hours or taking a flight, but what if I told you that it only takes 30 minutes to go from hustle and bustle to rest and relaxation, complete with farm life? The African Pride Irene Country Lodge is a luxurious, romantic hotel with a lakeside view and king-sized beds, not to mention a beautiful day spa; all of that, tucked away in Centurion.
Right across the road from the lodge is the Irene Dairy Farm, a working farm with cows grazing in green fields, surprisingly close to both Pretoria and Johannesburg. It’s perfect for a family outing, with wonderful, timeless atmosphere. The farm was founded in 1895, and boasts two restaurants on-site, a playground and beautiful gardens for that romantic stroll in the shade.
Children and adults can get close to the cows, and enjoy products from the Dairy Farm shop. The shop is the only shop in Gauteng that has its own raw certified milk, producing the most amazing milk tart, scones and cream as well as home-baked goodies and good old fresh farm milk. The ice-cream is out of this world – you can almost taste the fresh air.
Bae joined me on the trip; and I was looking forward to some quiet time for that Valentine’s weekend celebration. The hotel set up a lovely picnic on our balcony, complete with a personalised basket. The view was astounding, and the nearby city seemed to vanish. This gave bae and I an opportunity to enjoy the quiet of the room, and to bond with the charming monkeys that insisted on visiting.
We also had the opportunity to enjoy a couple’s massage at the Camdeboo Day Spa. The spa has four treatment rooms, a gym for long-term guests, a steam room and a sauna, an outdoor pool, heated Jacuzzi and a restaurant. In other words, there is no reason to ever leave the spa, named for the character-filled white stinkwood trees seen all around, their branches dancing in the gentle breeze.
The Meadow Green Restaurant. Well, the deboned oxtail and grilled polenta with delicious sautéed baby carrots was a highlight of the five-course meal with wine recommendations that made my whole weekend; after that experience, I was so glad the hotel is close to home so that whenever the craving appears, I know where to go, especially for the sensual experience of sundowners in the Gazebo in this rural environment.
Two nights (and two happy kilograms) later, I was ready for the short trip home, completely recharged and ready for the world. I was most sad to leave the friendly staff at the African Pride Irene Lodge, who are gracious, helpful: the real stars of the show.”