South Africa’s Greater Kruger is blessed with the world’s finest private safari lodges where your every whim is fulfilled. Big Five sightings, the order of the day, are orchestrated by trackers out beating the bush from before the spectacular African dawn. They promise you great game viewing on your drives at the start and end of each day.
Private lodges offer prized locations, flexibility in what you can do in them, and when you can do it.
The game may well come to you.
You will benefit from a rich interpretative experience courtesy of keen and knowledgeable guides (who explain things and keep you safe) and trackers (whose role is to find things of interest). The standard is uniformly high in Kruger’s luxury venues as competition is tough for the rewarding pleasure of introducing new spirits to the wonders of the bush.
Expect quite a bit of the vaunted Big Five. You could drive yourself around the public Kruger for a whole day without seeing as much as an elephant, if you are unlucky. Far from being an adjunct to National Parks, private land carries more than 3 times the game population (20 million) of South Africa’s public protected land.
Here, guides will not give up until you have been rewarded with some memorable sightings – a matter of professional pride. Given that the roads are accessible and guides drive off them anyway, chances are much better. You are not constrained by operating hours or gate closing times here.
Cat sightings are a particular speciality in some areas like the Sabi Sand. Here, Leopards are frequently seen. You would need to spend weeks on the tourist drags of the Kruger to get lucky.
Pretty much everything is included in your package, including peace and a gentle pace, leaving you to immerse yourself in your surroundings without worrying about the next activity or its price.
Private lodges are exclusive. You have unique access to a private area like a small kingdom, with a few vehicles active on large tracts of land. There are no traffic jams caused by rumours of lions in the vicinity, as happens in the public park. Sightings are private and leisurely in nature, and of a higher quality. They are considerably more frequent. You spend much more of your time interacting with game and interpreting nature.
There are no gate opening and closing times. There is no rush to get back to camp before sunset. You will stop for sundowners, an institution of the private lodge, at a spectacular location.
Afternoon drives gently shade into the evening and then night. Spotlights are produced to illuminate the secret lives of the crepuscular and then nocturnal wildlife.
Your drives can segue into other pastimes, classically an evening braai in the middle of nowhere.
When you eventually return to camp, you will be treated to fine food, some of which is worth a visit in its own right.
Sleep-outs are an exhilarating way to immerse yourself in the bush.
In the morning enjoy, a bush breakfast, sometimes cooked in traditional ranger style on the back of a shovel over the fire.
You will almost certainly be invited to walk in the bush, along with your armed guide and tracker.
In some places, you can go fishing, cycle, or indulge in some archery or astronomy. Most probably there will be a gym, a spa offering treatments and massage, and a curio shop.
Your stay is intimately tailored to your wishes. Activities are woven together to form a rich experience, with drives exploring differing places, and meals being served in different settings around the lodge.
The range of activities and levels of service reflect the great effort put in to making your stay an unforgettable one. The higher price/cost corresponds to increased value.