BIG 5/GAME DRIVE EXPERIENCE
Complementing the historical charm of the original manor house at Cheetah Ridge Lodge is our crowning centrepiece – a magnificent 111-year-old Ficus natalensis that has lived through two world wars.
More commonly known as the Natal Fig tree, or “Mutuba” to Zulu locals, on the hottest summer day, the dense shade of this handsome tree provides a cool haven in which to retreat.
With its profusion of intertwining aerial roots – which over time, have fused with its trunk into a striking tangled web – this towering 25m giant stands like an imposing sentinel over the original farmhouse.
Weather permitting, our guests savour the unique ambience of dining alfresco under its dense canopy.
On hot summer days, dine under the cool shade of this magnificent 111-year-old gentle giant; on balmy summer nights, soak up the atmosphere as you dine by candlelight beneath its majestic boughs.
And even during crisp winter nights, when our guests seek the comforting warmth of our indoor dining-room, its commanding presence, bathed in light, still casts its immortal spell.
Endemic to the eastern seaboard of South Africa, from KwaZulu Natal to the Western Cape, as well as the drier hinterland regions, the Natal Fig tree can be found as far north as Uganda and Kenya.
Distinguished by its buttressed trunk, elliptic leaves, and dense, drooping canopy, the versatile Natal Fig tree is one of the hardiest of our indigenous shade trees. Drought- and wind-resistant, it not only can withstand temperature extremes – but also the driest of conditions.
The yellow-red fruit that are produced prolifically by these adaptable trees from March to January, while not suitable for human consumption, are a bird and bat haven. The tiny seeds inside the fruit are distributed by birds that feed on the figs.
In East Africa, the bark of the tree is harvested, without harming the tree, to make barkcloth, an environmentally-friendly, renewable material.
Complementing the ambience of this unique dining experience are the delicious dishes on offer, using only the freshest locally sourced ingredients to delight even the most jaded of palates.
Taking our inspiration from the graceful weeping habit of this gorgeous tree, our mouth-watering menu combines modern gourmet dining with a selection of the finest local dishes.
At Cheetah Ridge, we recognise that good food enjoyed in convivial surroundings is central to our guests’ overall experience of our slice of heaven; for this reason, our cuisine gets our finest attention to detail, to ensure that our guests enjoy a memorable dining experience at our bush retreat.