The thrill of packing a small bag for a weekend getaway is something everyone enjoys, whether heading for the coast or to blue sky countryside. There’s genuine excitement at discovering a destination just a short trip away, especially when that destination has everything from tranquil surroundings to teeming wildlife.

Local businesswoman and travel fanatic Zama Ndlovu discovered all of this and more on her whistle-stop trip to Protea Hotels Zebula Lodge in Limpopo; here’s her account of golf, spa-time and elephants on her weekend in the wild:

“Long weekend season is almost upon us and if you are anything like me, you are only starting to think about your travel plans now. Being a Joburger, my first instinct is to look for a coastal destination, but, luckily for me, Protea Zebula Lodge was suggested as an ideal venue, just outside Bela Bela in Limpopo

You’re probably thinking “Limpopo? More peace, quiet and tranquility?” Yes, but add wildlife, adventure and golf and you have the perfect holiday destination for family or couple time. I was convinced, so I packed my Fitbit, fitness goals and my younger sister in my weekend bag and left work a little earlier than usual to beat the N1 North traffic. After just two hours, we arrived at the beautiful Zebula Lodge, welcomed by zebras, hedgehog families and all kinds of buck. We hadn’t even checked in yet!

The next morning, we woke up bright and early for some safari activities. Our guide, Berson, had a very clear mandate – find the elephants – which he delivered on and then some. Not only did we discover a grumpy 7-ton bull elephant, we also spotted mild-mannered hippos and other members of the big five. All this before lunch.

The lodge also offers an option to see the beautiful property by mountain bike or by quad bike. Those of you who have followed my travel blogs will know that I would quad bike to the moon if that option was available, so quad bike we did!

Although we didn’t bring any children, we found the lodge to be very child-friendly. There is a play area for younger children, complete with a miniature golf area and pool, and the property sports an 18-hole Peter Matkovitch-designed golf course for the young at heart. Zebula Lodge also offers golf coaching for those who want to improve their game. I sent bae pictures from the signature 8th hole and he hasn’t spoken to me since.

As is now customary for me, Sundays are Spa Days! We managed to sneak in some spa time before heading back to Johannesburg. There’s so much to do at Zebula Lodge, that’s why I recommend it for a very long weekend. I was warned that I’d need to keep coming back to experience everything, so now I’m already planning my next trip with bae (if he decides to talk to me).

Just a tip, if you are driving from Johannesburg, don’t follow the GPS unless you’re driving a 4×4 and are keen on bundu-bashing. Rather drive via Bela Bela so you can stay on tarred road for as long possible. Trust me on this one.