The Kruger National Park is situated north-east of Johannesburg, with short flights to local airports.
We’ve been told by many South Africans that the private game parks on the edges of the Kruger are a better experience. We chose the Kapama Private Game Reserve. (www.kapama.com)
We stayed at the South Lodge for 4 nights 44,000 ZAR or £1874. Given that everything is inclusive apart from beverages and there are 2 game drives a day, I think this was great value for money.
Review : The Kapama Southern Camp Lodge is a beautiful single-storey hotel spread over several attractive public buildings and lodge buildings. It’s all about contemporary African and it works very well. Our bedroom (24) was spacious, had it’s own veranda and was nicely appointed with a modern bathroom and good quality bed. Room service was excellent. We were at least 200m from the main reception and restaurant which doesn’t sound a lot but at 38C it can be a bit too far! The hotel included a game drive every morning and every evening of the stay.
Be prepared for long days as the typical schedule would be:-
- 05:00 Early morning wake-up call.
- 05:45 Beverages and tasty snacks served in restaurant before departure at 6am.
- 06:00 Game drive with a stop for hot chocolate
- 09:30 Return from drive and breakfast immediately (delicious).
- 13:00 Lunch.
- 16:30 Meet in bar for tea and light snacks!
- 17:00 Depart on drive.
- 19:00 Stop for sundowners while on safari.
- 19:45 Return in darkness to hotel.
- 20:15 Dinner.
and so on.
The hotel team were very good tending to our every need but by far the most impressive aspect of the Kapama game lodge was the safari team’s love of the animals and their dedication to them.
All the photos you see have been taken by myself. You really do get close up.
In-between the safaris you can catch up on some sleep or relax by the smallish pool. Time travels very quickly as there is so much to take in but 4 days is quite enough in one go. The safari vehicles are very comfortable, given that you are off-road. Kapama had vehicles with 3 rows of 3 seats but only took 6 people per vehicle.
This meant everyone got a ring-side seat and you had space in the middle for your cameras. If you planning to do some photography it is well worth investing in a camera with a zoom lens as a camera phone or a bottom-end camera won’t have enough zoom to do the animals justice. The crispness of the early morning air combined with the silence is a lovely way to start the day. Take a fleece and plenty of water with you. Although they should have both on board. Needless to say sun-block and a hat are essential. The vehicles have a guide driver and a tracker sat on a seat welded to the front bumper. Our guide spoke english and afrikaans and did a very good job of explaining what we were experiencing. The tracker spent his time looking for animal footprints and dung. In both cases, the fresher the better. They both have a very good knowledge of the area and work closely as a team to show the game to their guests. They are also in close radio communication with the other guides and will mostly know where the animals are. If a lion pride, for example, is found they may well drive about for a bit to allow closer vehicles to have their viewing first. A bit like planes stacking to arrive at an airport.
Whether you see The Big Five is ultimately a matter of luck.
We missed the Leopard but others saw it for about 10 minutes. We spent hours looking for one pride of lions then on the drive back to the airport saw 2 with about 15 lionesses and cubs each. I didn’t realise that the term “Big Five” describes the five most dangerous animals not the largest. The guides will take you right close up to lions, leopards and buffalo but they always make sure they have an escape route from rhinoceros and elephant.
The rhinoceros can reach 30mph in as many strides and if they ram your jeep it won’t be driving you back home!
They will also tell you not to stand up in the vehicle as it breaks the outline of it to the wildlife as they will then recognise you as human or, to put it another way lunch!It’s not just the Big Five that appeal; springbok, steinbok, wilderbeast (gnu), kudu, impala, nyala, baboons, vervet monkeys, song birds, vultures, eagles, running birds like the guinea fowl, tortoises, hippopotamus, giraffe, elephant, warthog and, my favourite the zebra. The bush is full of beautiful creatures.
Sundowners are very enjoyable.
A surprising bonus is watching the cristal-clear african night sky unfolding above you. I’ve never seen more stars, with our galaxy the Milky Way arcing over the sky.
After our final morning safari we were driven back to the airport for the short flight back to Johannesburg Oliver Tambo.
We had a great time!