The Kruger National Park and adjacent private reserves such as Sabi Sands allow wildlife to roam freely between them.
Greenwood Guide suggests four of the best and least pretentious private game lodges.
Rhino Post Safari Lodge
Kruger National Park
Call: 011 467 1886
After a six-hour drive from Joburg it was with a mixture of relief and anticipation that we rolled the last few kilometres through the Kruger Park to Rhino Post Safari Lodge. On arrival our bags were transferred to our luxurious, wood-framed chalet with its big windows and deck overlooking a dry river bed (or should I say animal motorway?)
Although the chalets have phones and electricity, it still feels as rustic and as open to nature as is safely possible. The camp is not fenced so animals are able to walk through the lodge area.
I don’t know if we were lucky or not, but 16 rhino on our first-night game drive didn’t seem bad.
We also saw two prides of lion fighting over a giraffe carcass, with scores of vultures in the trees and a large pack of hyenas watching for scavenging opportunities.
All the meals at Rhino Post are exceptional and it was a proper wrench to leave when the time came.
Nottens Bush Camp
Sabi-Sand Game Reserve
Call : 013 735 5105
Although Notten’s is jealously protected by its stalwart patrons who downplay the lodge as an “bush camp”, comfort is not in short supply.
The chalets, with their gaping doors, white linen, dark woods and private decking, sit within a shaded line of trees overlooking a pastured impala oasis.
This territory is known for its game, particularly leopards and rhino. Animals can wander into camp unhindered by fences – have a close look at the lap pool, where there’s a paw-print from a visiting lion that recognised a wet-cement celebrity opportunity when it saw one.
I found the Nottens “feel” addictive; camaraderie flourished and apprehensions melted. Why don’t more camps operate like this?
Call : 011 431 1120
There are few establishments where the staff seem to have as much fun working together as at Idube.
And it’s not difficult to see why. Warthogs and friendly nyalas roam through the camp, elephants pass nearby, squirrels frolic about the grass as if they’ve hopped straight out of a Disney movie; there is space and greenery, beauty and beast.
The land was bought in 1983 by Louis and Marilyn Marais and Louis built the swimming pool before designing and constructing the rest of the camp himself. Guests sleep in chalets dotted around the sloping grounds.
A rope bridge over the river bed takes you to a hide where you can admire the Shadulu dam and its regulars. Two game drives a day plus guided walks give you the chance to see what’s happening elsewhere in the reserve and tracker Titus amazed us with his ability to read bent grasses and droppings.
We took time out for sundowners by a dam, accompanied by a bull elephant and a bull hippo.
A vast range of activities is available – hot-air ballooning, microlighting and village tours to name a few.
Rhino Walking Safaris
Call : 011 467 1886
This is where I fell for Africa: sitting outside my tent in the Kruger, sipping G&T (for the anti-malarial quinine, you understand) and watching game serenely traverse the Timbitene Plain.
This is the only private lodge where you can walk in pristine wilderness – nothing short of a privilege. The refined, pioneer tents have dark wood furniture with brass hinges and leather straps, bathrooms with copper taps protruding from tree stumps and the largest, softest towels.
During the day, you can doze on the chocolate-leather sofa or sip highball cocktails in the plunge pool.
Walking on rhino footpaths, the trails let you soak up both the scale and detail of the bush. We encountered buffalo, rhino, lionesses on a hunt and had a pulse-quickening showdown with a bull elephant. - Cape Times