Our trip to three high end game lodges on the west edge of the Kruger Park was simply amazing. First we flew on Federal Air to an airstrip in Sabi Sabi near to Leopard Hills. This camp had just been refurbished and our suite, right next to the restaurant and with an unobstructed view over their dam was just beautiful. We even had a private plunge pool on our huge deck. There was a resident hippo, George, in the dam and elephant, buck and warthogs were frequent visitors. The game drives with Cal, the ranger, and his tracker Mo, were great and we saw elephant, leopard, buffalo and lion as well as many other animals. The food was out of this world, although there was too much of it! Leopard Hills gets the prize for the best accommodation and hospitality.
We moved on by road north towards Timbavati. At Hazy View, we broke our journey to visit Elephant Whispers. Here it’s possible to get up close and personal with elephants that have been rescued. It was simply a beautiful experience to be able to touch and interact with these gentle giants.
We arrived at Kings Camp just in time for the evening game drive. Here Grant, Donald and Revelation were able to find all the big five. We saw many leopard and lion and herds of elephants with babies. In fact many of the animals had young and it was lovely to be visiting the park in spring when it was turning lush and green. The trackers, Donald and Revelation, did an amazing job of seeing spoor and then tracking down the animals. Kings Camp is an older more traditional style of camp and the thatched rooms looked just like Out of Africa. They are in the process of renovating the rooms. Kings Camp undoubtedly gets the prize for game viewing and we were completely spoilt by the incredible number of animals that we saw here.
From here we flew on a small 4 seater private charter flight with Tzaneen air up north to The Outpost in a concession right in the north of the Kruger Park. The Outpost rooms are called Spaces and only have one back wall. The remaining three sides have blinds that can be opened up to allow you the illusion of being part of the bush. It was very hot here at this time of the year but the rooms are situated to get the afternoon breeze. Samuel, the Bird Man, was an incredible ranger who could identify birds by their calls and was very passionate about his work. Here the main attraction is the scenery and the bird life and this lodge would definitely get the prize for these attributes.
Now it was a charter flight to Tzaneen and on by car to Haenertsburg to visit Jonathan and Jane. This tiny village is a picturesque place in the Magaliesburg mountains. I had forgotten the beauty of this region and it was lovely to visit here again. From here we drove to Johannesburg and flew to Durban. After a quick trip north to Richards Bay to collect Ros’ new South African ID book, we enjoyed a couple of nights in Kloof with Ross and Linda. On a misty morning we drove South to Kidd’s Beach, just south of East London for Christmas with Rob and Eleanore. This is another small village that has retained a wonderful community spirit, despite being a holiday destination.
Now we meandered down the Garden Route, stopping in Knysna, Wilderness, where went paragliding again, George and Franschhoek. Here we enjoyed a day of wine tasking on the Wine Tram. And so it is back to Misto in Cape Town for New Year with the spectacular fireworks at the Waterfront to see in the New Year. Our new sails and rigging are installed and we are looking forward to a test sail in the next couple of days, and sorting out a few final issues.
Looking back, 2018 has been a year full of really incredible experiences and one that will hold marvelous memories for years to come. Most of all it has been wonderful to rekindle friendships and make contact with people who really became family to us when we live in South Africa.