No one drives between Malelane gate and Skukuza in the Kruger National Park without eagerly anticipating a stop at Afsaal, the shady picnic site that allows people to rest and recharge.

But even institutions like Afsaal need to occasionally shake off the dust. Operated by Tindlovu Management Services since October 2016, the popular spot is undergoing an extensive make-over that will make a visit there even more memorable.

Temporary facilities will be available while renovations are under way.

Work is being done in three phases. First up is the creation of Tindlovu Express which will offer freshly-prepared, delectable eats-on-the-go, like pies and sandwiches. And to wash your light meal down? An expertly brewed cup of coffee, of course!

Tindlovu’s Jo-Anne White promises an unbeatable coffee experience when Tindlovu Express opens to the public in the middle of December 2018.

The curio shop will also be given a fresh look and be stocked with some unique new items.

The second phase includes the construction of a restaurant, children’s play area and, in keeping with the surroundings, an awesome tree house. This phase should be completed early in 2019.

Last up are the things dreams are made of: a spa offering the full range of treatments – think how relaxed you will feel after being pampered in an environment that in itself is balm for the soul, an overnight hide and the introduction of guided walks. Phase three should be completed in the latter part of 2019.

When the last tool is packed away, Afsaal will have the look and feel of a timeless African lodge, modelled on Tindlovu’s latest restaurant which has become a firm favourite in Nelspruit since recently opening at i’langa Mall.

The I’langa restaurant will serve not only as the prototype for Afsaal, but also for all other Tindlovu restaurants in the Kruger, at Punda Maria, Shingwedzi, Mopani, Letaba, Olifants, Satara and Berg en Dal. Work at these restaurants will get under way next year.

“Tindlovu i’langa is the yardstick by which we will measure all our restaurants in terms of look and feel, customer service, excellence in food as well as value for money,” says Jo-Anne.

All Tindlovu menus will be reworked, and patrons can look forward to new and exciting offerings.

Jo-Anne has years of experience in the hospitality industry. She joined the Crocodile Country Inn’s team in May 1990 and ended up buying the hotel. By the time she sold it in 2009, she was committed heart and soul to the hospitality sector.

She founded Tindlovu Management Services in 2012, the same year the company acquired its first restaurant in the Kruger, at the Mopani camp.

From the start, Jo-Anne’s vision was the creation of a restaurant group known for its delectable Afro-fusion food, offering a blend of flavours that are all inspired by South Africa’s rich culture.

The next restaurant to be added to the portfolio will be opened at the Lowveld National Botanical Garden in Nelspruit. The garden is an oasis of green built around the confluence of the Crocodile and Nels rivers. ‘Tindlovu at the Gardens’ will focus on functions, weddings, entertainment on weekends and Sunday buffets.

“By 2020, we hope to have 20 restaurants, all offering guests an extraordinary Tindlovu experience at every point of contact,” shares Jo-Anne.