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By Brendan Seery

Deputy Editor

It doesn’t get better than this…

When it comes to travel, there is a lot of truth in the saying “no pain, no gain”.

Sometimes you have to endure some temporary discomfort because the reward the experience will be worth it.

It is not easy to get up early, especially if you’re away from home. So, it was with a reporter I sent years ago on a trip to Peru.

A highlight would have been a trip to the ancient city of Machu Picchu high in the Andes to watch the sunrise but this would have meant a 4.30am start.

But she was “tired” so she decided to sleep in and missed one of the most amazing sites in the Western Hemisphere. Online reviews of the Moonriver Mountain Retreat outside Vaalwater in the Waterberg indicated that the sunrises were spectacular.

One of the cottages perched on the side of the river valley was even called “Sunrise”. Our two-person unit (Safari) also promised a decent early morning view, especially given that its floor to roof glass walls on two sides offered a bushveld panorama second to none.

Picture: Brendan Seery
Picture: Brendan Seery

A serene sunrise in the African Bushveld

Leaving the curtains open – who’s going to peep from the miles and miles on unspoilt bushveld? – and having given myself a mental note before falling asleep, meant I got myself a front row seat on the deck to another African sunrise symphony.

As the sky lightened in the east, the prelude began – violent red carpeted the tops of the folded hills of the Waterberg ranges, slowly melting into orange while the sky above was tinged with deep blues and purple as the last vestiges of night were gradually banished. Never mind Machu Picchu.

This was worth any number of early mornings, because it was a picture we seldom get to see in the city, pent in as we are by houses, roads and streetlights. Steaming hot coffee took the sharp edges of the early morning chill. And another realisation: It really doesn’t get much better than this… not for me, anyway.

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Picture: Brendan Seery
Picture: Brendan Seery

A unique stay at the property

Each of the three units on the property – which was taken over a few months ago by new owners Bev and Dirk – is secluded and together they offer accommodation for between two and eight people.

The Safari unit, the site says, is ‘NOT SUITABLE FOR ELDERLY PERSONS.’ I don’t class myself as elderly but I did feel I had one foot in the grave after we had to make multiple trips (about 300 steps according to my fitness watch) about 20 metres down a rocky path carrying everything we needed for our three-day stay.

No pain, no gain. The units are all well-equipped for self-catering visitors and there is a fair amount to do on the property – ranging from bush walks to 4×4 drives. However, until Dirk restores the low range 4×4 parts to better than a rocky assault course, I would stay away from them.

Hikes through the reserve which has various types of non-dangerous game, including beautiful golden wildebeest can be quite strenuous, so good walking or hiking shoes are a must.

Sadly, you can no longer use the “foefie slide” into the farm dam because a youngish croc took up residence there last year and hasn’t moved on, as we discovered when we scared him back into the water from his sunny bank.

Picture: Brendan Seery
Picture: Brendan Seery

Navigating the Waterberg Meander

We also decided to use Moonriver as a place to go for an exploratory drive one day. That was good and problematic. There was an outdated (from 2009) guide to the Waterberg Meander, which included some suggested self-drives routes.

Sadly, even with the map and GPS we got lost on one of the routes because the signposts for sites of interests bore little resemblance to those on the map.

It was also an eye-opener when it came to the state of the roads. Clearly, Limpopo is not the best at maintaining even fairly important district roads, some of which has deteriorate in rock-strewn tracks.

Fortunately, we were in a Ford Everest 4×4, which has permanent four-wheel-drive and a suspension which soaks up the rough stuff.

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