Hotel check: aha Lesedi Cultural Village

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BACKGROUND: Aha Lesedi is a unique cultural village accommodation offering that showcases the diverse cultures and traditions of the people of South Africa. Guests observe the African way of life at five traditional homesteads where local families reside permanently and discover more about the cultures of amaZulu, amaXhosa, Bapedi, Basotho and amaNdebele tribes. Aha Lesedi has invested R3.2 million ($240,000) in rebuilding the dance theatre after it was destroyed in a runaway veld fire in 2016. It now sports a ‘buffalo’ front entrance walkway and five seating tiers, with a capacity of 300.

WHERE IS IT? In the north of Gauteng, a few kilometres from the Gauteng/North West border. It’s a straight drive up the R512/Pelindaba Road, which can get busy, depending on the time and day. The property is about 20 minutes from Lanseria International Airport, to the north-west of Johannesburg.

ROOM FACILITIES: There are 38 rooms divided among several ‘villages’. I stayed in Nguni Village, with domed rondavels and hobbit-sized doorways. But while I had to bend down to enter my room, the interior was spacious and well-appointed. The thatched dome ceiling was almost double-volume at its pinnacle, even though the walls stop at about shoulder-height. The walls were painted with murals and the room was decorated with animal skins – all very tasteful. The room held two double beds, two wooden chests at the foot of each bed, a small desk and comfortable chair, a small coffee table with a tea tray and a TV cabinet with a flat-screen TV and DStv decoder. The bathroom, with its screed floor, held a large shower, a claw-footed bathtub, and an outdoor shower that looked out onto the bush, enclosed by a four-foot wall and for privacy. Wi-fi is available in the rooms and megs are unlimited, but social media sites have been disabled. You’ll need a password which you’ll get from reception; just remember to ask for it when you check in as I couldn’t locate a phone in the room to get hold of the front desk.

RESTAURANTS & BARS: Nyama Choma, which means ‘great African feast’, serves buffet breakfasts and dinners, incorporating a selection of African dishes such as ostrich, crocodile, kudu and warthog. But it also serves mainstream meals for the more traditional diner. The breakfast buffet was modest, but definitely sufficient, with a selection of pastries, cereals, fresh fruit and cold meat, sausage, bacon, mushrooms and hash browns. Eggs are cooked to your liking, with a number of veggies prepared for the omelettes. I enjoyed my scrambled eggs with hash browns and bacon. Lunch was a special affair. The buffet consisted of crocodile curry, kudu kebabs and chicken drum sticks with a selection of starches, veggies and salads. The dessert buffet was full of South African favourites such as malva pudding and custard, koeksisters and peppermint fridge tart. I didn’t attend the dinner buffet, but my meal of lamb chops, potato wedges and green salad served on a sharing platter, followed by milk tart for dessert, was delicious. Ma Thabeleng’s Shebeen serves drinks and light traditional African-inspired shebeen lunches, and the Funduzi Bar offers traditional drinks such as Mamba Juice.

BUSINESS & MEETING FACILITIES: The village offers many conference and meeting facilities accommodating up to 300 delegates for conferences and team building, including the newly rebuilt amphitheatre where you can enjoy a show of traditional dancing.

LEISURE FACILITIES: Just past reception is a craft market where you can buy African figurines, beaded items, hats, fabric and other souvenirs. You can join the daily cultural tour around the five villages in which the accommodation is set and watch one of three daily traditional dance shows in the new amphitheatre. There are also a number of things to do in the surrounding area – just enquire at reception.

VERDICT: If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, this is the place. Just don’t believe Google Maps when it tells you to turn off the R512 – wait until you see the sign for the Lesedi Cultural Village before turning.

Kate Kennedy

CONTACT
A: R512, Lanseria, Gauteng
T: +27 82 523 4539
E: enquiries@lesedi.com
W: aha.co.za/lesedi