South Africa

Jock Safari Lodge, Kruger

Jock of the Bushveld is a true story by South African author Sir James Percy FitzPatrick. The book tells of FitzPatrick's travels with his dog, Jock, an American Pit Bull Terrier, during the 1880s, when he worked as a storeman, prospector's assistant, journalist and ox-wagon transport-rider in the Bushveld region of the Transvaal. The book is in it's 100th year of publishing and tells stories that took place throughout Kruger National Park. 

The concept of Jock Safari Lodge was born by the descendants of Sir Percy Fitzpatrick – the Niven family. They used the trust funds of Sir Fitzpatrick to build a lodge in the area close to where the story of Sir Percy Fitzpatrick and his dog Jock took place, making this lodge rich in cultural significance and a special place to experience Kruger and all that it has to offer. 

Our three days at Jock Safari Lodge in between game drives were spent snacking on dog bone shaped, home-made cookies, enjoying a fresh brew on the open-air daybed where across the river, elephants roamed and lions made trackable footprints in the soft sand. 

Jock Safari Lodge was one of those places that has you leaving with a new perspective on the world. From making friendships with the other guests to the awe-inspiring knowledge of the rangers and delicious feats that we were lucky enough to experience, our whole time here at Jock was one to remember. 

If you're planning on visiting, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Jock of the Bushveld to read before or during your stay, giving you a glimpse of what Kruger was like back in the 1800's- before the roads, the cars, the tourists and cameras. 

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Jock Safari Lodge

Kruger National Park, Southern Region,

Near Skukuza, 1351, South Africa

www.jocksafarilodge.com

 

Simbambili Game Lodge

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. 

 

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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

www.thornybush.co.za

 

Addo National Elephant Park, South Africa

Addo National Elephant Park is a place I’ll never forget. I’ve been trying to sum up the feeling of seeing my first elephant in the wild and have come to the conclusion that is it seemingly indescribable. My heart literally skipping a beat, just thinking about this experience brings back the same exact rush I felt that very morning on our first game drive in Addo. 

I can’t quite put into words how much this experience moved me, changed me and inspired me.  Seeing these beautiful creatures roam free in the wild left me in sheer awe of this incredible world we live in and the creatures that roam in it. There just isn’t any other feeling like being able to watch the hundreds of the world’s largest mammal running towards the waterhole, flapping their ears and interacting with one another in the wild.

Addo Elephant Park is about two hours drive from Port Elizabeth, on the central coast of South Africa and should you get the opportunity to visit, don’t even think twice. 

 

The story of Addo Elephant National Park begins in 1931 when it was proclaimed to protect the 11 remaining elephants. This 630 square mile park is the third largest national park in South Africa and now home to more than 600 elephants. 

Addo is known to be home of the Big 7 as the oceans around Port Elizabeth are also part of the park where whales and great white sharks are easily spotted. 

 

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We stayed nearby the park gates at Woodall Country House who’s relaxing haven and South African hospitality had me beaming from ear to ear. 

Waking up with a breakfast fit for Kings, we spent our time between game drives by the poolside, feasting on home made patisseries and fresh brew, watching the sun go down on the restaurant balcony overlooking the pond and relaxing with treatments at the in house spa. 

Upon returning to the lodge after game drives, we were spoilt with local dishes made with the freshest of ingredients and were giddy with excitement sharing our day’s sightings with other guests. 

 

 

Game drives with Woodall’s resident ranger Ruan was an absolute treat, where we got to pick his brain about everything and anything wildlife- how long were elephants pregnant for? What was the most amazing elephant experience he’d ever had? How do elephants socialise? How high do impalas jump?

His stories became apart of our story and being able to share this experience with a ranger who was so passionate and knowledgeable was really inspiring. 

Our game drives at Addo exposed us first hand to the beauty of mother nature and life in the wild. Home to just ten lions, we were lucky to spot one lazing in the sun on an early morning game drive and were in awe at the waterhole where we saw more than 200 elephants gathered to hang out and cool off from the hot 35 degree heat. I could have spent all day here just watching them interact with each other and learning about their fascinating lives. 

Thank you to our new friends at Woodall Country House, we can’t thank you enough for showing us this beautiful part of the world, and I know that I’ll be back soon. 
 

Woodall Country House & Spa

Jan Smuts Avenue
Addo,  South Africa

www.woodall-addo.co.za