Forget what you know about luxury tented camps, because when you visit Saseka you’ll be in for a sensory surprise.
Inspired by its surroundings, it’s close call to nature and the romanticism that treads nostalgically on bygone eras, Saseka tented camp is here to show you how luxury and nature blend in with modern and ultra luxurious ease.
Situated on a curve of the Monwana River that sweeps through our 14 000-hectare Thornybush reserve, is where you’ll find this crowned jewel, nestled unobtrusively in nature. Built in 2019, it’s the newest addition to Thornybush family, attracting guests from all over the world to its unique design.
Saseka, aptly named after the Tsonga word for “beautiful”, is all encompassing of the word. Let’s discover the inspiration behind this lodge, and show you why this property should be on your next safari escape.
Safari architecture as a design ‘style’ has evolved from the Out of Africa, cookie-cutter khaki mould into something that elevates the senses but simultaneously greets you back to nature. Now more than ever, lodge design seeks to embody unique design identities that speak to their surroundings and takes your safari experience beyond the obvious.
Saseka’s fresh interpretation of its surroundings aims to transcend the safari cliché in favour of an aesthetic that pulls your back into nature. With its core focus on outdoor living, textures to complement the climate and colours conducive to relaxation – we’ve gone ahead and re-inspired the safari concept into a progressive craft symbolic with its surrounding culture. Reinterpreting the safari tented camp experience into a luxury setting that engages with the bush, its offering is an entirely design-forward space. We welcome you to experience easygoing and low-key lodge life that still delivers on high-style luxury.
Silvio Rech + Lesley Carstens Adventure Architecture is the design team behind Saseka.
This award-winning duo’s architecture and interior design studio delivered on our brief to pioneer and reimagine modern bush camp architecture. Saseka comprises eight 200 m2 elevated tented suites, a two-bedroom villa, and a main public space, aimed at combining the nostalgia and romance of tented safaris with 21st-century design. Each air-conditioned suite has been designed to host its own private pool, outdoor shower and game-viewing sundeck. With the utmost privacy only found on a transformative safari, you really feel one with the wild, truly immersed in the sounds and sights of the bush.
Nature delivers on her palette. Understanding and working with the lodge life context without disrupting the environment is a hallmark of Silvio and Lesley’s design. Saseka’s colour palette is drawn from its surroundings, the ever changing seasons, indingenous wildlife, the winding water course of the Monwana river and the flora and fauna of the landscape. As the surrounding vegetation is typical riverine bush, featuring excellent examples of classic river trees like Jackalberry, Apple Leaf and Leadwood allowed their imagination to be fueled by nature. All this transpires into hues of ivory, dark green, apple, sage and subtle flushes of pink which echo the characteristic tones of the flowers found in the Thornybush reserve.
It’s no secret that Saseka boasts the best ceiling design in our tented suites. Responsible for this unique take on ceiling design are Grant Woodward on architecture and Jess Buys on interior design. They set out to compile a list of the botanical species found around Saseka. Working with the National Herbarium in Pretoria, they pulled all of the pressings of the different species collected in the region in and around the Thornybush Reserve, choosing the most visually striking ones to scan and compile into a canvas print for the ceilings.
This allows you as a guest to lie in bed and read the captions of each species, and at night, lit from behind, the draped fabric casts a soft, diffused light that sets the mood for relaxation. This is just another testament of this design team’s commitment to feature the details that draw specifically from Saseka’s habitat.
Sustainability needed to be top of mind. This is another distinctive feature of Silvio and Lesley’s approach. As an example, the flooring of both the tented suites and the public spaces are made of recycled, environmentally friendly wood in a gently faded, off-white hue. It acts as a unifier and a neutral backdrop for the signature furniture pieces allowing the design elements to stand out, while also referencing the soft white sand of the riverbed.
Bath and body products and decor accessories used throughout the lodge are also part of continuing the sustainable footprint of this space. Dried flowers, picked from the natural deposit of fallen trees to eco-friendly products used in the guest rooms all show up to remind you that nature comes first.
Walking into the main lodge area you are transported into a space that flows with nature, rather
than against it. A view of the sand riverbed presents guests with on-site game-viewing opportunities, whether from your breakfast table or your private deck. The main area flows through different levels and terraces to give a sense of volume, with a water feature forged from natural rock reinforcing the connection to the riverbed that is laid out in front of you.
Keeping the natural light flowing in is key to help expand your eyes to the extraordinary ceiling of the main area. Dubbed the ‘ceiling for all seasons’ it filters light into the space imitating the natural dappled light of a tree canopy.
Conically shaped “stained-glass” lampshades reminiscent of tree-pod blossoms dangle from intimate spaces but the hero of the lodge has to be the mobile in the main area. Constructed from metal, rice paper and rattan, it provides additional illumination, aimed to speak to the overall design philosophy: smart repurposing and a considered mix of old and new.
As your eyes filter upwards and outwards, be sure to notice the vintage mix of ball-and-claw and riempie furniture which lives comfortably against contemporary metal pieces, but it’s not just for show. Sink into a relaxed state, pick up a book from the library and let your bush grounding begin. Saseka exemplifies quiet luxury, tending to every guest’s needs. You can be sure to know that where every element is considered, nothing fights for your attention.
By Jemma Park