Kent’s South Africa Trip Report – Part I

June 9, 2014  By: Rob Howard

Kent recently returned from a trip to South Africa where he did some business as well as doing ‘Kruger in 6 days’. Here’s the first installment of his trip report.

AAC KR 2014 Oyster Box viewOne of the perks of my job is to go to Africa on a regular basis. This trip I attended an exclusive travel conference, We Are Africa, in Cape Town. Here I had the chance to stay at the historic Mount Nelson Hotel. (High tea, anyone?). I then traveled to Durban to attend the largest African travel conference in the world, Indaba. Here, I stayed at The Oyster Box Hotel, which was a real treat since it’s a classic hotel with great facilities and located on a beautiful stretch of beach north of the city. Both travel conferences provided great opportunities for networking and learning about developments in our industry, including some great new destinations, experiences and safari camps and lodges.

But how could I visit South Africa without going on safari? Obviously, I could not. So, I tacked on visits to three top private game reserves in and around Kruger National Park. Here’s what I found.

Singita LebomboAAC KR 2014 Singita Lebombo room

Anyone who is looking for top-quality experiences in Africa should become familiar with the Singita brand. With private reserves in South Africa (two reserves inside and nearby Kruger National Park), and one each in Zimbabwe and Tanzania, Singita leads the way in terms of refined accommodations, delicious food, even more delicious wine, great guiding, excellent game viewing, and especially, service.

AAC KR 2014 biking at Singita LebomboSpending two nights at Singita Lebombo inside Kruger National Park was indeed, a treat. My room was perched on a cliff overlooking a small river, thick with bush and trees that are home to baboons, bushbuck, vervet monkeys and birds. Many other animals pass through regularly, and not too long ago, camp staff says some hungry lions chased a zebra into camp, surviving claws and jaws only by jumping into the swimming pool. And while that would have been a sight to see, most days are much more serene. Morning and evening game drives are the staple here, but guests can mix it up with game walks and mountain biking (both of which I enjoyed), spa treatments, a workout in the modern gym, and shopping. All the same activities are available from smaller sister camp, Sweni.AAC KR 2014 ele at Singita Lebombo

And while game densities are not super high here, guests will typically see most, if not all, of the Big 5 and much more on a 3-night stay. On my visit, hosted by guide Chris and tracker Given, I had great lion sightings, along with elephant, buffalo, hippo, genet, giraffe and much more. Game drives along the lodge’s namesake mountains, punctuated by granite boulders and euphorbia trees, is beautiful, and currently a pack of hyena are denning in small rock caves in the area. Because of its location on the eastern boundary of the park bordering wild and remote Mozambique, rhino poaching has reduced that species numbers in the area, but we still saw a handful including a male, female and calf.

Next, I visit Sabi Sabi…