At the end 2008 I had the opportunity to join two of my colleagues (Nadia in Sales and Katja in Marketing) on an Educational to the Kruger National Park, Swaziland and Kwazulu Natal. I used to be a guide and every now and then I still miss the road, animals, bush and just being outdoors – so this was very exciting and I couldn’t wait to be back in the bush again!
We left early on Saturday morning for our flight to Johannesburg where we had to collect our vehicle and make our way to Pilgrim’s Rest. We arrived in JHB around 9 am and soon made our way out of the buzzing city towards Witbank. We had to do a few site inspections before heading to Crystal Springs where we were to spend our first night.
Our first stop was at Dullstroom where we went to view the Dullstroom Inn. From here we headed to Highland Giants Estate and then the next stop was Mount Sheba where we had a walk around before heading into Pilgrims Rest to visit the Royal Hotel. Afterwards we made our way back to Crystal Springs, we stopped next to the road for a glimpse of the surrounding beauty… and after arriving at Crystal Springs and we sat on the balcony with a well deserved drink and enjoyed the sunset.
The next morning we were up early and headed for ‘God’s Window’ – it was too early to do a site inspection so we decided to do some sightseeing. God’s Window is located close to Graskop and it is a beautiful view of the lowveld, and on a clear day you might even see Mozambique!!! Hence it’s called God’s Window!
We headed back into Graskop where we visited Westlodge and then the Graskop Hotel, a 3 star property situated right in town. It is a modern hotel with the most interesting decorations. Each room had a different feel to it with a unique piece of Art made from something old. We left Graskop and headed towards the Kruger National Park. We visited Timbavati Safari Lodge (a property that we use for our Kruger 3 star packages), we were greeted with a warm welcome and were showed around the property. From here we made our way to Tshukudu and to our final stop Kapama River Lodge. “Tshuduku is has the rehabilitation programme where you can get close to some cats.”
On arrival at Kapama River Lodge we were welcomed with friendly smiles and good service. We had our welcome drinks whilst being informed about the plan ahead. Our game drive started at 4 and then it was dinner when we got back, game drive in the morning etc etc. Then we were showed to our rooms – and what a nice view, the animals were minding their own business grazing in front of the room, each room has its own balcony with a view of the bush. On our tour we had some lovely hot days and this time we were up for a swim to cool down. We relaxed by the pool for a couple of hours and then headed on our game drive.
There are 3 lodges at Kapama; Kapama Main, River and Buffalo Camp. River lodge is the largest of them all, Buffalo camp being is the tented camp and then the Main lodge – which is smaller and a bit more private.
The night turned a bit windy and sandy but soon we were on our way back to the lodge for dinner. And what a dinner – buffet meal with a lot too choose from – one had to leave space for the yummi desert.
The next morning we were up early and after breakfast one of the guides took us to the Buffalo camp for an inspection – as mentioned before this is their tented camp about 20min game drive from River Lodge – I must say that I enjoyed this property and liked the camping feel in the bush. The tents are on stilts with walkways in-between, here they also have the boma, swimming pool and a lounge area.
When we got back to River Lodge we packed the vehicle and left for Jackalberry and Hippo Hollow two properties situated close to Hazyview. Afterwards we headed for Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge, a 5 star property close to the Kruger Gate and from here we entered through Kruger gate and stopped at Rhino Post Safari Lodge – a definite for honeymooners. This lodge I found particularly beautiful – another tented camp but more private and intimate with a lot of attention to detail. It was getting late and we still had to drive thought the park and exit at the Numbi gate for our last stop and as you know you have drive slowly through the park. We decided to call this trip IMPALA or WARTHOG as we saw so many of these animals and it was only day 3. We had a beautiful sunset in the park and ended the day with a view of 2 male elephants having a go at each other! We almost got lost driving out of Kruger and if Katja did not mention that we are going a bit too far we might have missed our entry back into the first gate to the park in order to get to Nkambeni. The gates close at a certain time and I did not realize that this lodge is actually RIGHT outside the first gate.
This is a tented camp just outside the Main Numbi Gate, a big property but very nice as it is so close to Kruger. We got to our rooms and discovered that each Tent had its own Jacuzzi on the deck… Just what we need after a long day, we went for dinner first and ended the night in a bit “too cold” water from the Jacuzzi.
After breakfast we headed through Kruger Park to 2 rest camps which is part of SANParks. Berg en dal and Malelane. Malelane was to be renovated in 2009. Both have accommodation and campsites. From here we exited the park and headed for the Swaziland border, we crossed the border and continued to Pigg’s Peak where we visited the Pigg’s Peak Hotel and Casino, from here we headed towards Mbabane and Forester Arms – our overnight stop! We arrived at Forester’s Arms – once again we were welcomed with big smiles and great service.
I enjoyed a nice swim before our dinner, and yet again there was so much to choose from, we were told that we can have all of the main courses – Just to taste – we couldn’t even finish one! The meals were well prepared and all home made. It started raining earlier on that day and as we were sitting at the dinner table the lightning and thunder came roaring back again – it was a perfect ending to the night.