Front Runners August 2015: Southern Star
Opened in June within South Africa’s 17,000-acre Timbavati Nature Reserve, the eight-suite lodge Makanyi (makanyilodge.com) offers an exclusive base in a prime safari setting adjacent to Kruger National Park. Guests spend their days exploring the abundant surroundings—where sightings might include a breeding herd of elephants protecting its young, a pride of lions sleeping in the grass, and a leopard stalking its prey—but the experience back at Makanyi is no less extraordinary, thanks to a water hole at the lodge’s center that regularly attracts big game. Thatch-roofed suites adorned with woven baskets and leather trunks provide a worthy diversion from the great outdoors. Equally inviting are a spa offering therapies by the South African skin-care brand Africology, and a restaurant serving Cape Malay curry, barbecued venison, and other regional delights. The best way to unwind, however, is fireside at Makanyi’s boma, blanketed beneath thousands of twinkling stars.