Bushveld Aerie

Two exclusive new eco pods in the Waterberg are reframing self-catering accommodation within a luxury lodge context.

Bush lovers who frequent luxe lodges are all too familiar with the pressures of keeping up with the establishment’s timetable, framing three set meals with a morning and evening game drive. If privacy and freedom are top of mind, then the alternative is usually to forgo style for a more rustic self-catering option.

For Pim and Rob Verdoorn, nature-lovers and owners of Cypiro Leopard Lodge in the Waterberg, there had to be another way. Combining bush and beauty, their two new eco pods, called The Elements of Altitude, offer total privacy with all the comforts of a luxury lodge stay. Having gradually developed Cypiro Leopard Lodge from a single thatched home into a series of beautifully appointed self-catering options, Pim and Rob had envisaged a home for themselves nestled into the hillside on the highest part of the property. “We used to come up here on our daily walks with the dogs and would often sit and enjoy the view,” recalls Pim, who is naturally drawn to elevated locales.

Perched atop a rocky outcrop, the view plunges southward over dense bush and terminates at the horizon, where a long range of mountains enfolds the lowlands. To the east, the 2-billion-year-old Kransberg series dominates. So spectacular was the site that they decided instead to share it with guests at Cypiro Leopard Lodge. Carving up their planned house into two separate buildings, 100 meters apart, they conceived of Ebony and Ivory.

No bigger than 45 square meters, each of the pods sits poised over the valley below, completely removed from any activity, other than the coming and going of wild animals. Down below, among Tambotie, Marula and Stinkwood trees, groups of Blesbok, Sable, Giraffes, Zebras and more can be seen from the deck, the swimming pool or even the shower with its vast, curved glass window, for that matter.

Having owned a successful furniture design and manufacturing business in Cape Town, Pim and Rob are well versed in the language of form, function and finish. With a modern expression and earthy palette, these off-grid hilltop aeries are as light in their architectural footprint as they are on the ecosystem. Both borrow their curvaceous form from Africa’s enigmatic pangolin, who curls up into a ball when in danger. A single internal wall divides the back entrance and neat wall-hugging kitchen from the lounge and bedroom. Steel and glass wrap the front of the pod from floor to ceiling with doors that slide back to reveal a bushveld paradise.

From outside, each pod appears at one with the landscape. Sandstone, collected on site and dating back billions of years, is packed to form the sensuously curved entrance wall as well as the contour of the indoor shower. Elsewhere, the finishes include earthy tones and textures comprising Cemcrete, reclaimed timber and off-shutter concrete. Woven and soft upholstered elements are introduced in the form of is slick and considered furniture, all of it manufactured by Mija Furniture, Pim and Rob’s daughter’s company.

Without the pressures of a predetermined schedule, guests can while away the hours on the suspended nets that attach to the patio, make their own pizzas in the wood-fired pizza oven, take a self-guided walk on one of their nature trails or seek out the big five at neighbouring Marekele National Park. For those wanting an exclusive, catered culinary experience though, Cypiro is launching seasonal, all-inclusive fine-dining packages in collaboration with Parkhurst’s celebrated Embarc restaurant. (Keep an eye on their social feed for this).

The highlight of a night in the pods may arguably be the automated skylight, situated directly above the bed and operated by remote. At night, surrounded by the vast darkness of the property, an immense galaxy is yours to observe from the comfort of your bed. “It’s not your average safari lodge, but a place where you can connect with the wild on your own terms, where you feel you have your very own farm in Africa,” says Pim.


Words: Mila Crewe-Brown
Production: J-P de la Chaumette
Photography: Courtney Robinson