The Wild & Wonderful Greater Kruger
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel to the Kruger National Park recently where our experiences included incredible daily game drives, interactions with elephants and cheetahs (not at the same time), as well as indulging in the fine cuisine and breath-taking design of some of South Africa’s spectacular Safari Lodges.
Read our full review of all the Kruger Lodges we visited on this exciting trip to the Kruger.
We jokingly called our trip “The Amazing Kruger Race” as we were literally racing from one lodge to another. It was really good to get a thorough understanding of the logistics (as to the uninitiated, Kruger National Park and the surrounding private game reserves can be confusing). Even though a lodges may be right next door to each other, the road that leads you there may be bumpy and obstructed occasionally by a local inhabitant of the four-legged kind! Also, lodges protect traversing rights they have (meaning you may have a 100km round trip when they are separated by 15kms as the crow flies)
Our journey introduced us to several lodges in the Sabi Sands, Klaserie, Kapama, Thornybush and Timbavati Game Reserves. From comfortable, tented options and welcoming family lodges, to the ultimate in luxury safaris, we explored and were pampered for 6 days. Lodges such as Lion Sands, Ulusaba, Ngala Safari Lodge, Kirkman’s Camp, Exeter (one of my favourites), Kapama and Simbavati, were but a few of the safari options we visited.
Exeter Leadwood Lodge
One that stands out in my memory was Camp Jabulani. Situated within the Kapama Private Game Reserve, Camp Jabulani offers amazing service all around and is famous for being home to a herd of elephants that were rescued by the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre. Guests can interact with these incredible mammals and watch them playing in the waterhole. We got to partake in this special treat and our elephant back ride was unforgettable.
We were driven out to the bush where the elephants were waiting to greet us. Sundowner drinks and snack were served and then it was time for our ride. The outing was spectacular with the sun setting and the moon rising…. all experienced whilst on the back of an elephant, so special. Afterwards we helped put the Elephants to bed, a very nice touch and perfect end to an incredible day. I must mention that a true highlight of Camp Jabulani is Zindoga Villa. The Villa is perfect for families or those looking for a more luxurious experience. Two en-suite bedrooms (one twin, one double), joined by a living room and including your own personal chef and private safari vehicle. It is absolutely fantastic!
We had a few interesting and sometimes hair raising incidents, such as the time we were charged by a huge Elephant bull coming out of Exeter River Lodge (Sabi Sands). We had to give him some time to cool down and time our escape precisely) At Nkorho Bush Lodge (also situated in the Sabi Sands), there was much excitement when a pride of lions came through the camp. Another truly unique sighting was that of a female leopard on the airstrip at Elephant plains - literally 100m from the lodge.
A visit to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, gave us the opportunity to pet a cheetah! The Centre focuses on the preservation and rehabilitation of endangered or rare species, with a primary focus on the cheetah and was certainly a highlight of our entire trip.
Overall my Greater Kruger experience was rewarding, educating and enjoyable…certainly an adventure!