Hiding a substantial art collection away in the remote African bush might be counterintuitive but it makes perfect sense to Japie van Niekerk. After all, his Sabi Sand eco-lodge celebrates the best of South Africa, so why not hang a Pierneef in the lounge and a Kentridge in a guest bathroom?
Japie’s personal collection has taken years to put together but there’s no attempt to create a gallery setting at Cheetah Plains. Each piece finds its niche in the luxurious living spaces of the lodge, designed by Stefan Antoni along clean modern architectural lines immersed in its natural setting. Relaxing on a deep sofa after a game drive, you might dive into contemplation of a huge works by Gail Caitlin or Greatjoy Ndlovo. Or be moved to deeper appreciation of the wilderness by Malcolm Solomon’s Banking Eagle sculpture, which soars beside Mapogo's lap pool with a natural waterhole as its backdrop. Named after the Mapogo brotherhood, a coalition of lions that once ruled the area, it's the only villa set on this active waterhole where day beds invite hours of contemplation in between game viewing. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to go on a game drive after waking to the sound of its lively hippos and watching elephants teach their young how to slurp and play.
There is no main lodge at Cheetah Plains. Instead, the three Plains Houses, Mapogo and two others, Kapula and Mvula, are separate exclusive-use clusters. Each house is a home-from-home with four double suites (two of which are interleading for families) with a private deck and lap pool, they are looked after by their own dedicated staff. From custom-designed furniture by Okha and ARRCC to Pichulik rope key rings, the interiors are curated with attention to the most thoughtful details and a collection of art. Of course, if you fall irrevocably in love say with one of Loyiso Mkhise’s vibrant portraits brightening the cool neutrals of your suite lounge, all the artworks are available to buy, keeping the collection fresh – The Tretchikoff may have recently sold, but an equally fascinating piece takes its place.
You might not even notice the substantial solar farm that powers the lodge, but you’ll appreciate the whisper silence of the custom electric Land Cruisers with their Tesla batteries - an eco-innovation that transforms game drives – birdsong, cicadas, the distant roars of big cats, no sound is lost to engine noise. Oh, and blissful heated seats! Back at the lodge, the big cat viewing, as superb as you’d expect in the Sabi Sand, is reflected in commissioned bronze cheetahs by Arend Elof, and dynamic cheetah and lion paintings (particularly of the Mapogo brotherhood) in Conor McCreedy’s signature deep blues.
Total immersion in art, nature and eco-luxury with a sensual touch of glamour is the Cheetah Plains experience.
• The Cheetah Plains art collection is an ongoing and evolving project, with new works being commissioned or acquired all the time. Works by Marti Kossatz, Frieda Lock, Janko de Beer, Robyn Field, Jan Tshikhuthula-Makhulu, Angus Taylor, Sizwe Khoza, Bambolwami Sibaya, Gert Potgieter, Galia Gluckman, Lionel Smit, Malcolm Solomon, Mandy Coppes Martin, Solomon Omogboye, and of course, the Pierneef landscape, may also be viewed.
Four private suites, two of which are interleading for families
All with bush views
All with en suites, double rain showers and baths overlooking bushveld
All with ample closet space
• Private mini-bar, fridge and coffee station
• Formal lounge
• Living room
• Fireplace (gas and wood)
• Mosquito nets
• State-of-the-art audio-visual equipment
• Alfresco/boma dining
• Expansive deck
• Swimming pool – solar heated lap pool
• Day beds
• Bushveld views
• Waterhole view (Mapogo House)
• Off-grid guest accommodation
• Grey-water recycling
• Electric game vehicles
• Laundry service
• Temperature controlled wine gallery
• Climate-controlled gym
• Spa: selection of touch therapies and beauty treatments included
• Television room
• Fully inclusive
• Guided Big Five game drives
• Zero-emission game drive vehicles
• On-board bird book, binoculars and professional level Nikon D850 camera (200-500mm telephoto lens) and memory cardare for guests’ enjoyment.
• Garden tours
• Walks (guided)
• High tea
• Game drive snacks and drinks
• Night drives
• Laundry service
• Mini bar
• Unlimited Wi-Fi
• 24-hour security
Cubs Club for under 12s:
• Includes bush bumbles (age-appropriate game drives) and interpretative walks in the garden
• Educational activities included in complimentary kids' backpack
AVAILABLE ON REQUEST
• Activities and excursions outside the private reserve
• Personal security
• Personal trainer
• If you fly into the nearby airstrip, you’ll stay within the reserve, but for longer stays day trips can be arranged for activities outside the reserve, such as scenic helicopter flights and Shangaan cultural tours to Utah, the nearby village.
• Hot-air ballooning near Blyde River Canyon (weather dependent).
• A visit to the Graskop gorge reached via glass lift and many other beautiful spots on the Panorama Route.
Speak to us if you have time to explore and we’ll help curate your trip.
• Check in 14h00
• Check out 11h00
• Maximum 8 guests in each villa (24 if all three villas are booked)
• No pets allowed
• All bookings subject to final approval by owner