November 12, 2014 | By Donna Evans
Recently I was fortunate enough to spend three nights at a beautiful luxury camp in the Hoedspruit region of South Africa, adjacent to the Kruger National Park. Camp Jabulani, a Virtuoso member property, has a private concession shared with a few other luxury camps, which provides for a private experience to their amazing game drives. Our host, Kate Nelson, the general manager, could not have done more to make our stay perfect.
The camp itself sits atop a seasonal stream which is shaded by Leadwood trees and joins the main open lodge by a suspension bridge to the suites. The classic, elegant interiors are warm, spacious and welcoming.
The fine dining, which included game options for each lunch and dinner, along with the incredible desserts, were enjoyed out on the deck and in the beautiful dining area. We also were spoiled by a romantic dinner in the wine cellar with fine wines to select. This special treatment is available to those celebrating a special occasion.
The luxury suites are remote and private and occasionally visited by the local wildlife residents. With a plunge pool and spacious deck with lounge chairs, coffee maker and complimentary mini bar with snacks, and even a fireplace in the room, there was no absence of any amenity. The ample windows allowed sunlight and scenic beauty to be enjoyed for the moments we were in the room. And if anything was desired, our personal butler would take care of it for us.
The spa in the bush offers the opportunity for a massage or facial while being at one with nature in the open air. This is a must! There is also a gym for those who “must”. With all the great food, it was probably a good idea. However, it didn’t happen for me.
Of course, the reason to come to Africa is the wildlife and there was no shortage of animal encounters and seeing the “Big 5”. Being in an open vehicle with our exceptional guide, Schalk, we were able to enjoy encounters with smaller animals, too. Not a beat was missed.
And at the end of the evening game drive, we stopped for “sundowners”, the drink of your choice, accompanied by a large selection of both sweet and savory snacks, to enjoy as we indulged in the gorgeous sunset views.
A feature of Camp Jabulani that sets it apart from the rest is the opportunity for an elephant-back safari on the back of rescued elephants that make their home at the camp. On comfortable saddles with a personal handler, we were able to get closer to other wildlife and have a bird’s eye view of the surrounding bush. After our night drive on elephant back, we were even treated to a stable tour and the opportunity to feed the elephants.
With so many amazing experiences at this camp, including watching the elephants swim and play in the mud, we must not forget the Endangered Species Center which is supported by this camp. One of the treasures is a baby rhino who was orphaned when her mother was brutally killed by a poacher. This little one is now joined with a new friend, a lamb, who is an ever present BFF. It is wonderful to watch them run and play together. We also were permitted to pet one of the endangered cheetahs, who was more than cooperative.
With all the luxury and attention, not to mention the amount of information we obtained from our guide, Schalk, it was hard to leave and to say goodbye to the resident warthog who grazed near the deck, and the fantastic staff lead by Kate. We will have to return for more!