River Lodge’s backdrop of the northern Drakensberg mountains is suitably large in scale as it is the biggest private game Lodge in the Lowveld. It offers luxurious accommodation and, with its generous bed capacity of 64 bedrooms, the lowest prices on Kapama.
Good Big Five
With a not insurmountable 13,000 fenced hectares (32,000 acres) of its own land to traverse, River Lodge’s price and Kapama’s immediate proximity to Hoedspruit airport, make it a good value choice for seeing the Big Five when time is limited.
DRIVES & WALKS
Days follow the classic private lodge formula of morning and evening game drives, with post-breakfast walks offered and included in the tariff.
Microlights and hot air balloons fly over the reserve, with the latter landing within it on occasion, so this is a good base to incorporate one of these activities as a paid alternative to a morning drive.
CURVED RIVER & POOL
The lodge is carefully designed to fit into its beautiful spot on the curve of the Kapama river. The channel is usually dry but seasonal floods can reach the steps of the large rim-flow swimming pool. A small permanent water source lies just beyond the perimeter fence, attracting animals like antelopes, elephant and buffalo: you can watch out for these from loungers on the deck.
GRAND LOUNGE & BAR
A long lounge and bar curve around the pool between huge double-sided fireplaces, creating a open-plan yet cosy space which also contains a dining room. River Lodge does not seem unduly big when you are there as it is craftily laid out.
Clever use of space continues into the rooms which are surprisingly large, with en-suite bathrooms (his and her sinks) and a private terrace with uninterrupted views of the reserve. All rooms are air-conditioned, with modern yet distinctly African furnishings and log-beam ceilings under golden thatch. There is a mini-bar, tea and coffee making facilities, international power plugs, and a mini safe.
Twenty Spa Suites occupy a private setting away from the rest of the lodge. Frameless glass panels in the bathroom and three-metre high doors allow for magnificent views from every corner of the room.
FULLY FEATURED SPA
The spa opens out onto a deck for treatments overlooking the bush, and also contains a steam room and suite for hydrology treatments. A wellness pool sits outside.
FAMILY & ROYAL SUITES
The Family Room includes three balconies and a separate area with two beds for younger kids This suite is 70+ square metres in size. It can be used by guests who just enjoy the comfort of a large room, or there are two Royal Suites. These larger rooms have a separate lounge and extended balcony with recliner couches. The en-suite bathrooms have a bath and a dual shower cubicle looking into the bush.
The Rhino deck dining area has tables arranged in a horseshoe curve, with a roaring outdoor fire in the centre to give a glow to evening dinners. Buffet-style meals introduce African flavours using fresh local ingredients, featuring specialities such as kudu and impala venison.
DECENT WINE CELLAR
River Lodge has a large wine collection with three big plate-glass windows letting you peer into the humidified cellar storing more than 600 bottles of fine wine. Apart from some French Champagne, all the wines and Cape Classique fizz are from South Africa’s finest Cape vineyards.
Kapama offers a sleep-out platform with a difference (at a premium). A five-course dinner is served to you by a personal chef at an intimate table for two. You can then retreat to your outsize double bed with billowing mosquito nets and a view over a waterhole to observe the goings-on of the night. A ranger is on standby by radio.