Africa is an adventure—a continent full of exciting experiences, from the desert sands of Morocco and Egypt, to the game-filled savannahs and plains of Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. But if there’s anything that truly defines Africa adventure, it’s the safari, an experience that never fails to excite, where you’ll always encounter new and unique cultural experiences and where you’ll always come away with a sense of awe about the wonders of the African bush.
On a recent trip to South Africa and its annual trade show INDABA, we followed up with a tour of several areas of the country from Durban to Port Elizabeth and then down to Cape Town. (Go to Recommend and click on the blog, “Rick On The Road, South Africa,” for more on these areas.) But the highlight of this trip was three adventure-filled days in the Singita Game Reserve in Kruger National Park, with a stay at the Lebombo Lodge, an oasis of elegance in the midst of the South African bush.
The first leg of this journey begins at Johannesburg airport in the Fed Air facility, the bush airline company serving Singita and other camps in the park. After storing the heavy luggage at the Fed Air facilities, the trip to Singita is done in two legs—on the first leg, visitors pile into a 20-passenger aircraft for the 1-hour flight to the transit point, for still another flight to our specific destinations, kind of like a bus transfer with some passengers going one way and some another. At the end of the second flight, the safari clients pile into the lodge’s van and head off for the 30-minute ride to Singita’s Lebombo & Sweni lodges for the aforementioned 3-day stay, located in the southeast part of the Kruger National Park, truly one of the most isolated areas in the park, some of which have yet to be explored.
In this particular area, there are the two lodges—the first and smaller one, Sweni, is located farther down from its neighbor, the Lebombo, where we stayed. It’s hard to conceive of such a luxury offering located in the middle of nowhere, but it’s here. You enter through a huge common area with a large bar lounge on one side and a common seating and dining area on the left—all of it open, fronting a river below and the lush, savannah vegetation surrounding it. The rooms are located along a wooden walkway that winds and spirals down a series of steps, branching off at intervals on separate walkways, leading to the individual lodge buildings themselves. Our lodge room is located in a prime river viewing area quite far from the main lodge itself.
The room door itself is magnetic—you wave a metal tag in front of an electronic device on the wall to open it—and as you enter, there’s everything you never imagined about a safari camp experience, except for the inclusion of the reserve itself, made so by the floor-to-ceiling glass windows that enshroud the building like a translucent skin. The effect is surreal and visually stunning. A long narrow desk on the right as you enter backs up to a lush, comfortable fabric couch that looks out onto a large wooden patio that hangs over the river below, shaded by verdant tree branches that hang above it. In the middle of the patio is a double-sized bed with a lantern on a stand at the head, all covered in a fine-patterned mosquito netting so guests—if they choose—can sleep out under the South Africa stars, listening to the sounds of nocturnal wildlife all around them.
The large bath area is also glass-enclosed with a huge soaking tub encased in a teak-looking wood base with a variety of high-end amenities and bath salts. Beyond it, there are two large rain showers back to back—one outside and one inside. The bedroom area contains a queen-size, four-poster bed enshrouded in a thick mosquito netting with a zippered entrance. There are no TVs in the rooms, but there is a TV room out in the main lounge area and there’s an iPod in the room programmed with African music. Other amenities include skin lotions, sun block and two kinds of mosquito repellent—one for the face and neck and a spray can for the arms, legs and whatever other body parts you should choose to expose.