Deutsche Fassung German translated articles

Crossing Lodges: Safari retreat selected by safari connoisseurs

You may wonder why the word connoisseurs is in the title. The answer is actually straightforward. Connoisseurs are people with expert knowledge of something and are qualified to judge and appreciate its quality.

Petra and I believe we earned the title of Safari Connoisseurs. Our trips have taken us to some of the best destinations and extraordinary hotels across the globe. Yet, our mission remains to find safari lodges that offer life-enriching experiences for our selective audiences.

We understand why you expect more from a luxury safari lodge than a comfortable bed, good food and pleasant staff. In today’s (sometimes turbulent and chaotic) environment, people want to enjoy meaningful experiences and add once-in-a-lifetime activities to their book of life and passports.

Over the last couple of years, we have scoured a plethora of game lodges in our pursuit of finding luxury safari lodges that offer more than just the typical safari experiences. In addition, we understand the daunting task that first-time visitors to South Africa face to pick a suitable game lodge from a selection of more than 42 game reserves. It’s a task that may appear straightforward at first, but after visiting several game lodges (like us), you start to discern what distinguishes a good game lodge and what propels a game lodge to a league of its own.

In this article, we take you on a virtual tour of two of our recent best finds. Crossing Lodges consists of two extraordinary lodges that we had the honour of exploring in mid-May. We present the passion projects of Noortje Hart and her husband, Thijs, from the Netherlands, who have made South Africa their home and who are making a significant contribution to community upliftment in their area of operation. We delve into the distinct experiences these lodges offer, tailored for ‘experience connoisseurs’ who yearn for more from a safari adventure than just ordinary wildlife sighting.

Elephants Crossing Lodge, Welgevonden Game Reserve, Champagen in the African Bush
Petra and Bernie enjoying a picnic in the bush

Where are the Crossing Lodges located?

Elephants Crossing Lodge is nestled in the malaria-free Welgevonden Game Reserve, which is part of the scenic Waterberg region. The sister lodge, Zebras Crossing Lodge, is located near Modimolle, previously known as Nylstroom in South Africa.

The Welgevonden Big Five Game Reserve is home to 50 unique mammals in a diverse terrain characterised by majestic mountains, valleys and riverbeds. Zebras Crossing is located on a private reserve that allows guests to explore the vast terrain either on foot, by bicycle or with a guided game vehicle

Waterberg Biosphere, Welgevonden Game Reserve
Welgevonden Game Reserve in the Waterberg Region

What and where is the Waterberg?

The Waterberg Biosphere, with its gentle mountain ranges and dramatic escarpments, is renowned for its captivating rock paintings, hinting at its possible status as the ancestral home of the San people. This region is a natural haven for safari enthusiasts like us, boasting a selection of splendid luxury lodges that offer guests unparalleled Big Five and malaria-free wildlife and culinary experiences.

How many lodges does Crossing Lodges have?

Crossing Lodges consists of two private lodges: Elephants Crossing and Zebras Crossing Lodges, which are owner and management-run.

Elephants Crossing is a private lodge in one of the best game reserves in South Africa, while Zebras Crossing is located on a private farm near Modimolle. As you will learn, the two lodges offer totally different experiences, and therefore, we highly recommend visiting both lodges.

Why should you stay at one of the Crossing Lodges?

We have visited the Welgevonden Game Reserve many times before in search of unique luxury lodges that provide flexible schedules, memorable activities and excellent photographic opportunities.  Welgevonden is known for its up-close experiences with wildlife, exceptional photographic opportunities, and outstanding game drives.

Elephants Crossing is one of those lodges that still allow you to experience a sense of untamed wildlife, as in the Out of Africa movie set. The owners and management perfected the art of giving guests personal attention and allowing them to schedule their activities according to their preferences. As you continue reading, you will soon understand the profound importance of flexibility when visiting a game lodge.

We loved Elephants Crossing’s inviting and intimate feel, while Zebras Crossing’s charming setting allowed us to unplug and become one with nature.  

Zebras Crossing Lodge, Waterberg Biosphere, South Africa, Zebra
The tranquility of Zebras Crossing Lodge

Features of Elephants Crossing and Zebras Crossing

The tastefully safari-style main lodge of Elephants Crossing combines elegance with a cinematic view to give you a front row seat on nature’s big screen. Besides offering fine dining experiences in a relaxed environment, the lodge promises unique wildlife encounters on your doorstep. A majestic elephant bull came to introduce himself during our dinner on the expansive wooden deck. To our surprise, he took a stroll through the camp and made his way to one of the pools to quench his thirst. True to its name, the lodge lives up to its reputation of having large herds of elephants regularly visiting the unfenced camp.

Our favourite spot, each night after dinner, was the evening light fire pit overlooking the waterhole. Here, we marvelled at the peacefulness of the bush veld, with no other sound but that of nocturnal creatures and several other frequently visited wildlife species. We enjoyed sipping on on-the-house cocktails while sharing our game drive stories with fellow guests.

Zebras Crossing offers a relaxed safari ambience. If you have ever been to Kruger National Park, you may be forgiven for thinking this is one of their camps. The rondavels (a circle-like suite with a thatch roof) instantly reminded us of the peace and tranquility that you get at Kruger National Park. The terracotta walls of the rondavels melt into the surroundings and seamlessly allows the wildlife to roam freely without the interference of the lodge. Zebra, Giraffe, and several other antelopes roam the farm.  

How do Elephants Crossing and Zebras Crossing differ from each other?

The most significant difference between the lodges is that Elephants Crossing is located in a Big 5 Game reserve, while Zebras Crossing is located on a private game farm.

Elephants Crossing offers three Luxury (with a capital L) canvas tents, one tent suite (with an intimate private fire pit) and, for larger families, a magnificent Bush Villa overlooking the entire camp. The safari-style tents all have a private splash pool, which elephants frequently visit for morning and afternoon showers. We loved how the green canvas tents blend naturally with its surroundings. The views from the tent’s private patios are absolutely stunning. Game roam freely past the tents.

Zebras Crossing, on the other hand, offers a classy yet relaxed family-orientated vibe with all the necessary ingredients for an awesome family or group-of-friends holiday. A large pool overlooks the plains, and wildlife is often spotted next to the pool. There are many unfamiliar board games and even a Boccia lane. This was my first attempt at this game. For adventure seekers, there are stunning waterfalls and rock pools for swimming (although a bit cold), well-maintained mountain bikes (suitable for all ages), and several short and long walking (or running) trails. The activities at the lodge centre are around the unfenced and open waterhole that attracts antelope, giraffes, and zebras. If you pick your timing right, you might even spot a tower of giraffes or a dazzle of zebras next to your room.

Zebras Crossing Lodge
Zebras Crossing Lodge
Elephants Crossing Lodge, Welgevonden Game Reserve
Unser privater Pool in der Elephants Crossing Lodge

What makes Elephants Crossing unique?

What struck us immediately as we set foot at Elephants Crossing was the attention to detail and personal attention we received from the staff. We were waited upon at the lodge with the most refreshing home-brewed welcome drinks. We noticed during our stay that the staff at Elephants Crossing go out of their way to ensure every guest feels valued and special.

For example, Ayanda, our hostess (she is permanently stationed at Zebras Crossing), checked in on us regularly to find out if everything was to our liking and what the team could do to make our stay unforgettable. Ayanda, with her bubbly personality, and the rest of her formidable team made a point of knowing all the guests’ names and treating them like family. Not only did the very talented chef Austin serve us the most delicious meals, but he also introduced and described each meal for us and, after dinner, came to check if we enjoyed the dishes that he prepared for us.

Elephants Crossing offers twice daily game drives (one early morning and one late afternoon) with Herbert, one of the most knowledgeable game ranges we have met in years. He surprised us daily with his exceptional knowledge of the plants in the area that can be used for medicinal purposes.

Avid photographers and nature lovers are in for a treat as Herbert uses the experience he acquired over many years to track wildlife, ensuring you don’t leave without seeing your favourite animal.

Elephants Crossing Lodge, Welgevonden Gam Reserve
We received a warm welcome at Elephants Crossing Lodge

What makes Zebras Crossing unique?

Zebras crossing is ideal for families with small children because there are so many activities that young and older adults can enjoy. Moreover, because the lodge is very flexible in terms of what guests would like to do on a particular day, they prepare individualised itineraries for each family or group of friends. Thus, there is no need to wake up at a certain time for a game drive. Guests are welcome to explore the entire farm (with a frequency radio) to ensure they can call a team for help when needed (such as for a flat tyre on a bike).

Zebras Crossing Lodge, Modimolle, South Africa
The pool at Zebras Crossing Lodge

When is the best time to visit Elephants Crossing and Zebras Crossing Lodges?

Elephants Crossing and Zebras Crossing can be enjoyed all year round, but we particularly like November to March. The Waterberg’s climate is warm and temperate, with three distinct seasons.

The driest time is mid-winter (May to July). In summer, from December to February, the weather is hot. The Welgevonden Game Reserve often receives thunderstorms in the late afternoon, followed by beautiful clear skies.

Note: rain does not affect game drives at Elephants Crossing. Guests receive waterproof ponchos.

PRO TIP: We suggest that you visit Zebras Crossing first, followed by Elephants Crossing. Zebras Crossing has a very laid-back vibe that allows guests to explore the lodge on their own. The cycling and walking trails are well-marked, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost. And if you’re petrified of snakes (like Bernie), you can rest assured that Zebras Crossing has not reported any sightings of (unwelcome) serps.

Good to know: If you stay for a minimum of five nights and book all transportation through Crossing Lodges, the transportation between the lodges is free.


There is no better place to create unforgettable memories than Crossing Lodges.

If you found this article helpful, please give us a thumbs up or rating!

Until next time, when we share more ‘affordable’ luxury adventures with you,

Your Travel Buddies, Bernie and Petra

Contact details of the Crossing Lodges

Visit their website for bookings and more information.

Email: reservations@crossinglodges.com


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How useful was this article to you?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 2

Be the first to rate this post.

Discover more from Travel Buddies Lifestyle

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading