Agent’s Choice: 5 Top-rated Kruger Safari Lodges, by Natasha Allan
Aug28

Agent’s Choice: 5 Top-rated Kruger Safari Lodges, by Natasha Allan

Our people have spoken! We are sharing our safari experts’ top-rated camps and lodges in the Kruger Park this week. First is Natasha Allan who has been a specialist consultant at Sun Safaris virtually since its inception and she has created some of our clients’ best African journeys ever. We’ve given Tash the task of selecting her 10 favourite Kruger safari lodges, and (in no particular order) we’re featuring them here for ease of reference for our readers and clients. Read on to discover the first five of 10 places we consider some of the best accommodations in the Greater Kruger Park. Located in the private reserves that share unfenced borders with the famous South African national park, these Greater Kruger spots have all of the wilderness delivered to you on privately guided game drives and bush walks you’ll never forget. Part two coming soon! Khoka Moya Camp and Mantobeni, Manyeleti Game Reserve First to feature is Khoka Moya Camp in the vastly unchartered Manyeleti Game Reserve, sprawled between Sabi Sand and Timbavati, which border the Kruger National Park. It has 15 large tented suites which straddle a peaceful riverbed, it is family-friendly, welcoming children of all ages (and offering babysitting services), and it is eco-friendly in its construction and its operation. You’ve got to try out the bird hide and the walking safaris in this heavenly little place! Khoka Moya has a sister camp, Mantobeni, which is located nearby also in the Manyeleti Game Reserve. It is slightly more remote than Khoka Moya, hidden in a grove of Tamboti trees where its 15 free-standing tents are raised on elevated wooden platforms (about 5 steps up from the ground). This wild and wonderful tented camp enjoys all the comforts and hospitality of Khoka Moya, but there is a minimum age limit of 12 years old. Natasha recommends both camps and they are sold at the same rate. Budget: US$ 250 (low season) – US$ 350 (high season) (*all rates quoted per person sharing per night) nThambo Tree Camp, Klaserie Private Nature Reserve This is one of our go-tos for an affordable, romantic, and exclusive safari experience and Natasha is quick to recommend it for adventurous honeymooners who are excited by the idea of treehouse-style chalets, positioned on wooden stilts to meet the trees at eye-level. nThambo Tree Camp has only five rooms and is entirely unfenced, so wildlife – including any members of the Big Five – have the freedom to roam through the camp, drink from the ground-level plunge pool, and sleep under your room! nThambo is casual and relaxed, but it is pretty and comfortable with an...

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Looking for High-end Exclusivity? Try The Royal Portfolio Hotels
Jul12

Looking for High-end Exclusivity? Try The Royal Portfolio Hotels

The Royal Portfolio is a handpicked selection of high-end hotels offering a sense of exquisite exclusivity. Catering for an international market seeking hotels and lodges of a superior standard, the Royal Portfolio certainly sets the benchmark in terms of elite destinations. This intimate collection is a portfolio of private residences, hotels and safari lodges located in sought-after tourist destinations. For those with an extended budget, and want the best-of-the-best, the Royal Portfolio is a must. The Royal Portfolio is a family-run business, and although its properties are upmarket, the ethos of familiar comfort is a primary focus. Royal Portfolio is about the luxury, the familiar and the experience. Each destination is in a must-visit area in South Africa. One of our consultants will happily combine an itinerary with a stay at the below properties, offering you a quintessential “South African” experience exploring the Cape Winelands, whale watching town of Hermanus, Kruger bushveld experience and the buzzing Cape Town. Let’s take a peek inside their staggeringly elite hideaways. Royal Malewane in the Kruger’s Thornybush Private Game Reserve The Thornybush Private Game Reserve is a big 5 reserve forming part of the Greater Kruger region. Royal Malewane is a luxury safari lodge in the heart of the reserve and was recently nominated as one of the best 50 resorts in the world by Condé Nast  Traveler. This classic safari lodge exudes a traditional safari feel combined with a modern take on decor. It’s understated and classy; provides that much-needed slice of luxury combined with the adventurous safari lifestyle. Game drives are led by highly qualified guides and trackers; take place twice a day during the periods of time when predators are most active. During your downtime between game drives, we encourage you to indulge in a spa treatment or simply soak up the bushveld atmosphere. In terms of accommodation, there are six luxury suites, two “Royal” suites that come complete with two bedrooms. Then there is the Africa House, which is an exclusive use villa. Birkenhead House in the Whale Watching Town of Hermanus The Birkenhead House is a stately coastal home overlooking the expansive sea and cascading cliffs of Walker Bay in Hermanus. Hermanus is a bustling seaside village that enjoys hordes of visitors during “whale season”, which is the time of year when the southern right whales return to ancient breeding areas. Walker Bay is one of these destinations, and is a short drive from Cape Town, making it a popular add-on to a holiday in Cape Town. The Birkenhead sets the standard in terms of luxury destinations in Hermanus. The decor is contemporary coupled with tasteful beach-house decor....

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Why is a Safari Holiday Expensive? We Answer 7 Kruger FAQs.
Apr15

Why is a Safari Holiday Expensive? We Answer 7 Kruger FAQs.

If you’re a first-time safari-goer it’s understandable that you might have a number of questions pertaining to finance, etiquette, meals and game viewing before you depart for your safari holiday. Given that you are travelling miles to a foreign country and have no idea what to expect, it’s understandable that you’d have a few questions in mind. Here we answer 7 commonly asked safari FAQs. Hopefully, our answers will clarify a few things before you begin your intrepid journey into the Kruger bushveld. Why is a safari holiday so expensive? When you book a safari holiday in a private Kruger reserve you aren’t just paying for the price of the accommodation. Many people, when looking at a lodge, might baulk at the price – whether it’s 3 stars or a premier lodge. The price of a safari includes meals, accommodation and activities. Because you are in a wild, remote and private reserve; you cannot drive to the shops or use your own vehicle. There are also no restaurants nearby. All you have is the lodge and its facilities. A standard rate would include bush walks, morning and evening game drives, high tea, tea and coffee all day, game drive snacks and accommodation. There are rates at certain lodges that include all drinks in the cost. What is the difference between a Kruger private reserve and the Kruger National Park? Both the Kruger National Park and the private reserves form part of the Greater Kruger. The national park is owned by the parks board, and the private reserves are merely sections of the Kruger that are privately owned. These privately owned parts of the Kruger cannot be accessed by the general public unless they have a booking in a lodge within the reserve. There are normally gates and entrance/conservation fees before entering the private reserve. While day-trippers can’t visit the private reserves, wildlife can wander across. Many of the private reserves share unfenced borders with the national park – this means that wildlife can roam across. Private reserves and concessions are also uncrowded and game drives are guided by a tracker and ranger. The rangers can normally go off road to get up close to sightings, which isn’t possible in the national park. Is it customary to leave a tip? You don’t have to leave a tip, but you really should. Your guide looks after you for the duration of your stay so it’s customary to tip your guide. Coupled with their tip you are also welcome to tip the housekeeping. Certain lodges might have a tip box in the main section, but most lodges will supply you with envelopes...

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MORE Safari Treehouse Experiences in the Wilderness
Apr04

MORE Safari Treehouse Experiences in the Wilderness

MORE is a portfolio of lodges and camps scattered throughout sought after safari destinations within Africa. It’s a family-run group with a focus on offering sublime safaris and unique experiences combined with journeys into the wild. MORE definitely knows how to cater for a variety of first-time safari goers to Africa; and they will wholeheartedly pull out all the stops when it comes to offering authentic experiences that give insight into the safari lifestyle. Dedication to the wild, passionate about service excellence and crafting unforgettable bush and coastal experiences is the name of the game with MORE. Their safari lodges are located in reserves heaving with wildlife and popular with international tourists. There’s the premier Sabi Sand boasting an abundance of leopards, the Malaria free Madikwe Game Reserve , the popular Kruger National Park and the accessible big five reserve called Marakele National Park. What we love about MORE is their night under the stars experience offered at their big five lodges in Kruger, Madikwe and Marakele. This is a way of immersing yourself in the untamed wild while cocooning your senses in blissful luxury, and is booked in conjunction with standard accommodation at the lodge. What better way to experience nature than to be completely out in the open in a remote treehouse far from the maddening crowds? You could create a pure treehouse safari itinerary with combination stay at all of the above reserves, allowing you to journey into a variety of safari destinations. First up we have the Chalkley Treehouse and Kingston Treehouse, both located in Lions Sands within the premier Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Chalkley is ideal for die-hard romantics who want to indulge their wild side. It’s an open-air treehouse constructed from natural woods and offers a complete sense of luxury and sophistication. Fall asleep to the echoing whoop of the hyena and wake-up to lions contact calling. Drown yourself in the finest linen and immerse yourself in bushveld surrounds. The 40m2 treehouse deck is ideal for couples seeking something completely exclusive! The Kingston treehouse differs somewhat. The entire area is enclosed in glass with a contemporary feel. It differs from Chalkley in that it has shower and bathroom facilities. Kingston is set to cater for 4 people, children are allowed and it’s closer to the lodge than Chalkley. Tinyeleti Treehouse in the Kruger National Park is another treehouse experience bought to us by MORE. Simplistic in its architecture, Tinyeleti offers a breathtaking experience with a romantic feel. Located on the banks of the Sabie River, the Tinyeleti is most certainly located in a prime position. A winding wooden pathway snakes its way towards the main...

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Timbavati Game Reserve : Hire An Exclusive Use Safari Villa for 8 People
Feb11

Timbavati Game Reserve : Hire An Exclusive Use Safari Villa for 8 People

Walkers Bush Villa is an exclusive villa located in the midst of the Timbavati Game Reserve. The villa has a relaxed atmosphere, but offers a sense of understated sophistication with quirky flair. Oh, it’s elite but so tranquil and peaceful. Sweeping lawns, a swimming pool and a lengthy patio perfect for socialising defines this artistic country-style villa. This villa offers a five star, fully-catered experience, and ensures that guests don’t lift a finger while on safari. A private safari experience for the discreet and discerning traveller. A gourmet chef is included in the cost, and menus can be tailor-made to suit your every whim. There’s a boma area for a traditional braai, an indoor and outdoor dining area, bush dinners can even be arranged, bush breakfasts and dining on the lawn – you ask, Walkers delivers. After a day of traversing the bushveld you will return to the villa to enjoy a warm fire in the boma area. After your choice of cuisine is served, it will be time to relax under star spangled skies and listen to the vibration and echoing of the lion’s roar. Catering for 8 guests in a variety of rooms, this villa is ideal for small groups travelling together. Whether it’s an exclusive birthday party, a once-in-a-lifetime family holiday or a group of friends on safari; Walkers provides the perfect hideaway. There are three rooms adjoining the main section of the house and then the master bedroom inside the main house. With ample lounge and dining space, there are plenty of places to socialise. Highly qualified rangers will take you out on guided game drives through the revered Timbavati where you will track the big five – and with any luck – spot the rare white lions that roam free within this reserve. The sheer abundance of game in the Timbavati is remarkable and it’s one of the most sought after safari destinations in the Greater Kruger. The reserve shares unfenced borders with the Kruger National Park, which means wildlife is free to roam throughout. This often means that new bloodlines are created within lion prides, leopards explore neighbouring territories and a wealth of other animals migrate across from the national park. On the grounds of the villa there is prolific birdlife Ingrid and Howard Walker are the original owners of Critchley Hackle Lodge and Walkersons Hotel and Spa in Dullstroom, and certainly aren’t strangers to creating exceptional destinations. Their expertise spans 25 years, and their flair for the creating incredible spaces is certainly eveident in the handcrafted Walkers Bush Villa.  ...

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Going on Safari? Here Are Your Kruger Airport Options.
Nov06

Going on Safari? Here Are Your Kruger Airport Options.

If you don’t want to self-drive to your safari camp, then you have two ways of getting to your Kruger safari destination, the first is for the more budget conscious traveller, and the second for a more flexible budget.  Budget style is to fly into a major airport and take a scheduled road transfer to your camp/lodge. These road transfers are generally in luxury small busses that seat up to 10 people. The road option does allow you to learn about the area, historical landmarks and enjoy the small towns en route. The ideal option, if you aren’t travelling on a budget, is to fly into one of the smaller safari airports via a connecting flight from South Africa’s major airports that include O.R. Tambo International (Johannesburg), Cape Town International and King Shaka International (Durban) airports. These smaller safari airports normally have a few flights departing and arriving daily. From the smaller airports, rangers from your camp or lodge will come and fetch you and transport you back to camp. Don’t be surprised to see a fleet of game viewers and sea of khaki clad rangers waiting in the arrivals. Here are your Kruger Airport Options : Northern Kruger Park: Phalaborwa Airport (Hendrik Van Eck Airport ) Phalaborwa serves the northern region of the Kruger National Park, and is a small airport. It serves guests flying on private charters and scheduled flights to/from international airports. The airport looks like a safari lodge, with its thatched roofs and plenty of wildlife statues. There are a few curio shops inside the terminal, ATM machines and also a car rental section. Central Kruger Park: Hoedspruit Eastgate Airport The Hoedspruit (Eastgate) Airport is a small but bustling airport that serves popular private reserves including the Timbavati Game Reserve, Kapama Game Reserve, Klaserie Private Nature Reserve and Balule Nature Reserve. The closest gate is the Orpen Gate entrance to the National Park. The airport has a restaurant and one curio shop. It is crawling with safari vehicles, with gives it that authentic bushveld feel. You might even notice wildlife darting across the runway. Small, efficient and one of the most popular safari airports, Hoedspruit is a fantastic introduction to any safari. Southern Kruger Park: Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMI) The Nelspruit Airport/Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport serves the southern region of the Kruger Park, which includes the world renown Sabi Sand Game Reserve. It’s quite a large airport in terms of safari airports, and certainly caters for the both the business and leisure traveller. With its premier lounge, and curio shop chockablock with African trinkets; this airport has certainly covered all bases! Kruger National Park : Skukuza Airport Skukuza airport has an...

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Elephants Drinking from Swimming Pool at Lodges in Klaserie
Aug09

Elephants Drinking from Swimming Pool at Lodges in Klaserie

The winter is in full swing, which means the bushveld is crunchy, arid and no longer boasts the luscious green vegetation that summer brings. With the thinning out of the bushveld, the water sources become scarce. For plains game, they gain most of their moisture from the vegetation they digest so they will congregate at waterholes dotted in reserves to replenish their thirst. Elephants are our swimmers and water babies of the bushveld, so they’re naturally drawn to pristine, fresh waterholes. When the waterholes dry up a bit, elephants will travel far and wide to find clean sources of water. The swimming pools at nThambo Tree Camp and Africa on Foot appear to be their go-to destinations for a soak and slurp! Elephants Drinking from the Pool at nThambo Tree Camp Around the same time, on an almost daily basis, the elephants meander their way through the wooden treehouse units and straight towards the splash pool. There’s normally quite a jostle to get a place in the pecking order and guests delight in watching the young calves flaying their trunks over the side of the pool. Elephants have the capacity to soak up to 14 litres of water through their trunks and can drink up to 200 litres of water a day. Given that they digest a bulk load of coarse vegetation, access to water is vital and herds will travel many miles to seek out the perfect water source. Possessing a high emotional intelligence and excellent memory, these pachyderms will make a point of remembering where valuable water can be obtained – the pool at nThambo is clearly etched into their memory banks and its water source can be detected from up to 5 km away. Our pachyderms can naturally go without water for up to 4 days and if they don’t have access to waterholes and swimming pools, they will use their trunks to dig up the earth to access to ground level water. This has a knock-on effect for other animals because natural waterholes are created through this digging process. Elephants Drinking from the Pool at Africa on Foot There is a bull elephant that is a well-known visitor to the splash pool. He seems unperturbed by the presence of onlookers and loves to relax at the poolside. He has a routine, which is observed by curious onlookers on a daily basis. This bull casually consumes his intake of vegetation while en route to his local. Elephants can spend up to 12-18 hours a day feeding and digesting a variety of course vegetation, which means they need to drink plenty of water. Guides and rangers at both camps...

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