Situated between whispering riverine trees, beneath the dappled shade, and overlooking the rushing Blyde River, Rukiya Safari Camp feels like a peaceful retreat designed to nourish the soul. It is surrounded by nature’s abundance, and built with sheer comfort in mind; from the natural wood and canvas tented structures, to the calming rimflow pool.
Rukiya is located in the lesser known Wild Rivers Private Nature Reserve in the Greater Kruger region, only 10km outside the bustling town of Hoedspruit. It is family-friendly and affordable, yet chic and sophisticated, and since opening its doors just over a year ago, it is now a newly discovered gem in this popular Lowveld safari region.
There are 6 tented safari suites at Rukiya; two of which are designed to accommodate families of 4 in larger tents with subtle, standing room dividers and a shared bathroom. The 4 double tents overlook the Blyde River, which is a hurried body of water racing towards its confluence with the Olifants River – one of the Kruger National Park’s most significant. Each tent is elevated on a wooden deck and extends onto a modest balcony, offering the perfect shady spot for lazy afternoons. The tents are canvas, Meru-style structures, and the beds inside them are ultra-comfortable.
Special care has been taken to source locally made and ecologically sustainable furniture and woodwork, maintaining Rukiya’s low impact ethos. There is a lap pool filling the space between the guest tents and the main lodge area where the lounge and dining area is located. The pool is a crystal clear and cool place of refreshment, lined with sun loungers, and trickling gently over over its brim towards the river. Here, guests might switch off and doze after an early morning game drive and a satisfying breakfast, listening to the birdlife and the sound of flowing water.
Wild Rivers Nature Reserve is located bordering the Balule, which is an unfenced Kruger Park game reserve. Rukiya’s game drive and walking safari activities take place in an exclusive portion of the Balule along the Olifants River. An incredibly special and seriously luxurious feature of this riverside traverse (if you’re a birdwatcher, that is) is the breeding pair of Pel’s fishing owls. A pride of lions, parading elephant, hyena, leopard, black rhino, and buffalo are among the big game specials, while an unending list of herbivorous antelope and plains game fill the gaps in between.
Back in Rukiya’s back yard in the neighbouring Wild Rivers Reserve, a sundowner spot of dreams awaits! Evenings call for sunset game drives; so, after some relaxing has taken place during the day after a long morning safari adventure, Conraad and Donvan take their guests out for a bumble around Wild Rivers and end up at ‘sunset rock’ just in time to floor their guests with the view of the amber sky. The Drakensberg mountains become silhouetted against a burnt orange sky and the gin & tonics flow freely during these last magnificent minutes of the day.
Before long, a brisk night drive takes guests back to camp where the smells from the kitchen waft appetisingly into the atmosphere. The three-course dinner that is served is outstanding and the friendly attention from Lily is conversational and interesting.
Rukiya is the whole package, and where it lacks in onsite Big 5 presence, it makes up for tenfold in the details that are so often overlooked elsewhere. From packaged breakfasts, to dream-like bed linen, subtle style, and personal care; there is so much that will leave you coming back for more.