What i’ve grown to understand more and more is that paradise looks so different to each and every one of us. For some, paradise is white sandy beaches and endless palms, for others it’s scaling snow capped mountains in subzero temperatures. For me, paradise is driving down dirt roads under the African sun with the echo of radio calls in the wind and camera in hand. Paradise for me is holding back the tears as leopards brush past the vehicle I sit in, and staring deep into an elephant's eye as he wanders through his home in the wild.
We pulled up to Simbambili Lodge after a two-hour drive from Hoedspruit airport. Landing into Kruger National park is awe-inspiring. The dense African bush spreads as far as the eye can see and I was instantly filled with the rush of knowing how many creatures call this place home.
Simbambili Game Lodge is located within Sabi Sands, a private game reserve which is apart of Greater Kruger, the largest National Park in all of South Africa. Two million hectares of unrivalled diversity of life forms, a place that you just won’t walk out of the same. Kruger showed me a way of life that I had never experienced before and the exhilarating thrill of the chase, warm-hearted staff and their passion for what they do left me with the most unique memories that I havn’t stopped raving (or dreaming) about since I returned home.
Combining Moroccan style, unparalleled comfort and African hospitality, Simbambili accommodates a maximum of 16 guests at each time and has been carefully designed and sophistically decorated with every detail in mind.
Overlooking the watering hole, each suite features it’s own private plunge pool where more than once, we watched troops of monkeys trailing down the river bed and elephants grazing through the grassland from our verandah.
A day at Simbambili begins with a 5am wake-up call, where there’s just enough time for a quick coffee and homemade muffin before jumping in the open top land rover for the morning game drive. Our guide Sipps was one of those people that you instantly want to be friends with. His unique lifestyle and extensive knowledge of animals made for constant chatter during our drives where he left no question unanswered and every fact backed up with a personal encounter.
We were joined in our land rover by a family from England, who’s passion for adventure and appreciation for wildlife matched our own and who we loved spending time with over the next few days. Combatting sleepy mornings with a breakfast cocktail of strong coffee and Amarula (an African liqueur made from the exotic Marula fruit), our mornings in Africa were some of the most exhilarating with leopard, lion and wild dog sightings within minutes of each other.
After tracking animals as the sun came up, post game drives, we were met with the most impressive of breakfast spreads back at the lodge before mid-morning naps ensured we were well and truly rested for the afternoon ahead. With lunch being served around 1pm, this left us with the hours in the middle of the day to enjoy the luxe surrounds, cool off in the pool and soak up every minute of the sunshine.
Following lunch, afternoon tea is served in the main lounge room before the afternoon game drive beings which extends into the evening to view nocturnal species by torchlight.
Dusk was the perfect time to stop for a sundowner and the very best homemade dried mango and biltong we’d ever tried. We watched in awe at hippos in the river and with thumping chests as we witnessed a pack of lions chase a leopard up a tree. Most memorably, we all together fell apart when we were lucky enough to see lion cubs chasing each other around the tree as their sleepy parents watched on.
Moments like this made for dinner conversation like you’ve never quite had before where sitting around the bonfire with new friends was the most incredible way to top off action packed days filled with remarkable experiences.
Special thanks to the incredible team at Simbambili Lodge who helped make this experience so memorable and rewarding for us. The love you have for mother nature and the dedication you show truly moved me and reminded me why this planet is so incredible.
Vlog coming soon.
Thorny bush Simbambili Game Lodge
Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Kruger Park, 1350, South Africa