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  • Lisa Martus


In the early morning light, the white bones of the iconic Eucalyptus tree come to life and the branches seem to stretch towards the rising sun as birdsong erupts in the valley below. The impassive faces of the stone lions limber up in the first rays and the garden starts to work its magic. Clivias in the sunken garden raise their heads and glow, azaleas smarten themselves up for a day of loveliness and agapanthus watch the hilltops for the fingers of light coming their way. Fountains, ponds, walkways and hidden corners of the famous landscaped garden all reflect or look onto the endless mountains beyond.

Perched on the mountainside in New Agatha just outside Tzaneen, you can find the enchantment that is Kings Walden Garden Manor. It is a place of beauty, where ancient trees throw their leafy arms high into the golden sky at dawn, where sunbeams caress every flower and leaf and light streams through the garden to light up the sparkling fountains and brooding sphinxes. The old manor house has been turned into an elegant lodge for a tranquil retreat, exclusive special events or a delightful base to explore the area. At Kings Walden, a crackling fire in the grate, delicious healthy food, candlelight, conversation, warm hospitality... all the good things in life come together here at this century-old homestead tastefully transformed into luxury accommodation.

Marike and Hannes Bezuidenhout, the new owners of Kings Walden Garden Manor, have been hands-on since July 2023. Hannes is South African born and for many years he was a mobile safari operator, building lodges and training guides in Botswana, Zambia and Caprivi, He is a national guide and owns his own Tour Operator business, Grandioos Afrika, bringing visitors from the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany to Southern Africa. Hannes has years of experience in the tourism arena but also studied agriculture at University. He left the continent for love, moving to the Netherlands to be with Marike and staying there for 17 years, but always felt the connection to South Africa and wanted to give their two children the kind of experiences he had growing up here.

After travelling throughout the country, when they arrived in Limpopo, Hannes and Marike fell in love with the surroundings, the weather and the feeling of friendliness and safety. They had nurtured their dream of starting a small lodge which could be completely off-the-grid and were fortunate to stumble upon Kings Walden which afforded them the opportunity for tourism combined with independent, green living and small-scale farming, which were Hannes’ two loves. From the minute they experienced the ‘Wow’ which so many visitors to Kings Walden have felt, they were convinced that this was a place where they could follow their passions. Tapping into Marike’s experience and skills as a Reflexology teacher who had her own practice in the Netherlands, she wants Kings Walden to become a space of tranquil healing and regeneration for body, mind and soul.

Their long-term plans are to renovate the lodge into a new, modern space which embraces the history, environment and the community as well as to build a Treatment Centre teaching an alternative way of health supported by their own organic farm for herbs and vegetables. They want Kings Walden to be known as a place of fine dining and good, healthy food which fits into an ethos of the kind of healthy lifestyle that they espouse and compliments Kings Walden’s spectacular views, mountain air, sunny weather and tranquility. They also want to support local growers and producers of coffee, gin and craft beer as well as to encourage their international visitors to explore the ‘neighbourhood’ enjoying a variety of activities in nature, from birding or hiking the nearby Rooikat Trail, to a day-trip in Magoebaskloof where they can have an adventure on the Canopy Tour, go to Zwakala Brewery or the Blueberry farm and stop in at Debengeni waterfalls on their way back.

Hannes and Marike believe that there is so much more than just seeing the Big-5 in the Kruger National Park - it is more about an opportunity for people to meet across nationalities and for visitors to go away with an authentic experience of South Africa. A place like Kings Walden touches the soul of every visitor and lets them see the world with new eyes.

For accommodation bookings, contact 015 307 3262 | or check out


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