A luxurious trip to South Africa, by Cheryl
During my stay in South Africa, I flew from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit to cover the northern Limpopo region of Greater Kruger. I was lucky enough to stay at three amazing camps; Karula on Kapama Private Game Reserve, Garonga on the Makalali Private Reserve and finally Simbavati Hilltop Lodge on Timbavati Private Game Reserve. Game viewing in all locations was fantastic - this is what I love about safari in South Africa, the guarantee of seeing all Big 5 and more... plus the anticipation of it.
Kapama Karula is the epitome of luxury accommodation in the bush. All 12 villas here are decorated lavishly with earthy tones and feature private heated pools on the outdoor terrace that overlook the Klaserie River. This river flows all year round which means it draws animals even in the driest of months. The camp is also fenced which means peace of mind for parents with young children, and family villas are also available as well as a plethora of activities for the little ones. They also offer romantic sleep outs for honeymooners, a brand new spa on site, a fully inclusive package with all food and drinks included and 13,000 hectares of prime game viewing (we spotted all of the Big 5 in just two days here). Kapama Karula really does cater to all.
Next I travelled onwards to Garonga. Much more rustic and authentic in feel, the focus of this camp is definitely the pretty rock pool overlooking the on-site watering hole. Slightly smaller in size with just 9 rooms, the camp is split in two; the main safari camp which has six luxury tents and Little Garonga which features three suites. Little Garonga is really special – perfect for a small family group or special gathering. This part of the camp is completely self-serviced with separate exclusive dining and a private plunge pool too. One unique offering here was the bush bath – giving guests the opportunity to either bathe under the stars whilst outside in the bush, or skip a game drive and view the animals in their natural habitat while pampering yourself! Whilst game driving here we came across the elusive black rhino, a pride of 15 lions feasting on a warthog, and ended up in the middle of a herd of approximately 30 elephants. What an experience.
Lastly, I concluded my stay at Simbavati Hilltop Lodge. The elevated position of this camp meant that the view went on for miles. It was incredible. Majority of the fences in the Timbavati Reserve have now been dropped which brings the safari experience even closer to the guests. It’s just wide open plains for the animals to roam freely. A hyena was spotted just outside of our room after dinner and a lion the night before, but don’t worry, the rangers are very observant and make sure all guests are safe by escorting you to and from your room after dark. My favourite thing about this camp was the boma dinner experience. The Afrikaan music and dancing was spectacular. It was lovely to see the staff take so much pride in their culture and watch them genuinely enjoying themselves. We also had the pleasure of witnessing a herd of approximately 200 buffalo dash towards a watering hole to drink – definitely a magical sight. Because of the time of year, we spotted lots of new life in the bush too - which was really special. There’s nothing quite like the sight of fluffy lion cubs playing or a baby rhino bathing.