I’ve been fortunate enough to experience four Safaris in my lifetime. One in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, the Maasai Mara and two in Kruger National Park. There is something incredibly humbling about being in the bushveld surrounded by nature’s beauty. It helps to gain perspective on life and how as humans we have a responsibility to protect, defend and preserve the wildlife that remains. If you are thinking of going on a South Africa safari trip this post might convince you.
This time around we opted for Londolozi Private Game Reserve in Kruger National Park. The hubby and I wanted to plan a family vacation with both our parents and wanted it to be special, something they wouldn’t do on their own and decided on a South Africa safari trip. We started in Cape Town where we stayed 5 nights and ended our stay at Londolozi in Kruger Park for our last 3 nights.
See related post: 10 Reasons you should visit Cape Town
Things to Keep in Mind When Planning a South Africa Safari Trip
There are several game reserves to chose from and it is important to do your research before making a choice. Game viewing is usually the most important factor when selecting a location. After all, what is a safari without the game viewing? There are three game reserves located West of the Kruger National Park; Timbavati Game Reserve, Sabi Sand Game Reserve and Klaserie Game Reserve. They are the largest sanctuaries in the world of this kind. Each of these game reserves is home to different lodges and safari camps whose owners elect a joint policy committee. This means there are no fences separating the lodges or safari camps within the game reserves allowing for wildlife to roam freely and for greater game viewing experiences.
Londolozi is in the game rich, ‘Big Five’ Sabi Sands Game Reserve, which has one of the highest and most bio-diverse wildlife populations of the African continent. It is legendary for viewing leopard and you will also find other animals such as the elephant, lion, rhino, buffalo, cheetah, giraffe, zebra as well as plenty of antelope and other species.
For detailed information about South African Game Parks click here.
A Safari is a very special experience that most only dream of doing once in their lives so be sure to carefully plan your vacation to avoid any disappointments.
Four Tips To Remember
The game viewing: research what to expect in the region you plan on visiting. We've used this safari calendar to plan all our safaris and it has been very accurate so far.
Safari Lodge or Safari Camp: there is a wide range of accommodations available to choose from and it is important to do your research so that you aren’t disappointed. Are you looking for ultra-luxury: style, service, food and amenities or value for money: basic amenities like electricity, air-conditioning, hair dryers and four solid walls around you or are you looking for a more adventurous experience with no amenities: bucket showers and no electricity?
Airport: make sure to contact the game reserve you will be staying to confirm the closest airport. We could have saved a little over an hour if we had transferred from Skukuza instead of Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport.
Kid free game reserves: if you prefer no children there are lodges that only allow children over a certain age or no children at all.
South Africa Safari Trip at Londolozi Game Reserve
Getting to Londolozi Game Reserve in Kruger National Park South Africa
We flew from Cape Town into Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport; the duration of the flight is 2h35 followed by a 2-hour drive to Londolozi Private Game Reserve from the airport. You can also fly into Skukuza Airport, the transfer from the airport to Londolozi is slightly shorter.
Things to do at Londolozi
Londolozi offers a variety of activities to chose from which is something the other lodge we stayed at in Kruger Park did not have. Keep in mind that you will have about five to six hours to spare between drives and if napping is not your thing you will want to occupy your time with some sort of activity or it can get very boring.
You can sign up for a Yoga class on the Londolozi Yoga Deck, enjoy a massage or work out in their fully equipped fitness center. Each lodge has a small pool where you can enjoy the views in complete privacy or you can also spend time at the main pool where you can watch the monkeys pick fruit off the trees.
Other services offered include photographic equipment rentals where you can choose from a multitude of professional level cameras and lenses. I decided to rent a better camera and start a friendly competition with my father. I eventually lost after spending one-on-one time with Alice, our photo editing guru at the photographic studio. That's where we selected a few of our best shots to edit using Lightroom CC. He had more to choose from and so he won.
You can choose between five different accommodations at Londolozi; Tree Camp, Varty Camp, Private Granite Suites, Founders Camp and Pioneer Camp. The pioneer camp is the most secluded of the camps at Londolozi with three luxury suites and a common area. The Varty Camp, where we stayed, is the original camp on this Kruger National Park game reserve. Each has something to offer and it really depends how you wish to spend your South Africa Safari trip.
A Typical Day On a South Africa Safari Trip
5 am Wake-Up Call & Game Drive
You will get a knock on your door at 5 am. Yes, it's really early but oh so worth it! You then make your way down to the breakfast area where you can enjoy some fresh coffee or tea and a light snack before joining your ranger and tracker for the first game drive.
The drive usually lasts about 3-3.5 hours, during this time your ranger will work together with the tracker and other safari vehicles to locate animals. As you begin the journey the ranger will ask what you wish to see during your drives. Greg, our ranger, along with Equalizer, our tracker, did not disappoint!
Post Game Drive Breakfast
Once your morning drive ends you are then brought back to the camp where you can enjoy an à la carte breakfast or continental buffet. The selection is not lacking and the quality isn’t either. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were amazing during our entire South Africa safari trip! You will not go hungry, that’s for sure.
Free Time Between Game Drives & Lunch
After breakfast, you can retreat to your lodge or enjoy the activities mentioned earlier. This includes the pool, a massage, the village walk, an hour at the photographic studio, a workout at the gym or yoga.
Lunch is served between 2-3:30 pm in the dining area right before your second game drive in Kruger National Park. The lunch menu was different on each day during our stay and the food was delicious. The menu included butternut squash salad, grilled squid, fish and chips, grilled halloumi salad, falafel, ostrich tacos and much more.
Second Game Drive in Kruger National Park's Sabi Sands Reserve
Our last and final drive takes place around 4 pm and once again you spend 3-3.5 hours enjoying the magnificent landscapes and majestic animals of Kruger National Park. I will share more details on the game drive later in the post.
Upon our return from the game drive, we were greeted by a night escort who took us to our room and asked when we'd like to be picked up for dinner. Although it is safe to walk around during the day if you stay within the perimeters it is not safe to do so at night. People tend to forget that they are surrounded by wildlife and you can’t control the animals. Better safe than eaten! 😉
Nightcap & Dinner at Londolozi Private Game Reserve
The relaxing main deck area at the Varty Camp is a perfect place for a nightcap! You can enjoy a glass of wine and talk about your game drive with other guests.
Our last meal of the day was served in two different locations during our stay. Each night upon arriving we were greeted by the staff and offered a drink prior to being seated. The first evening dinner was held in the same area we had breakfast and lunch. It was transformed into a beautiful candlelit outdoor space with tables covered in white linens. We also got to watch a beautiful show featuring traditional song and dance by the villagers.
The following two evenings dinner was served outdoors on a sandy area. Where they lit a bonfire and guests could help themselves to a fabulous buffet prepared in their open BBQ.
What to Expect During a Game Drive While on a South Africa Safari in Kruger National Park
This is the highlight of any Safari and it is worth sharing in detail. We went on 6 game drives during our stay and I would not recommend anything less. Londolozi is located on the Sand River in the heart of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park that covers six million acres and includes Kruger National Park. Animals wander freely across this vast space which allows for spectacular game viewing while still offering an authentic wilderness experience.
The Big Five Game Animals in Kruger National Park
We were lucky enough to see the Big Five during our visit, which was an improvement from our last South Africa safari trip where we did not see any lions. We were very surprised when we got to experience more than one leopard sighting and up close! The leopard is typically shy, secretive and mainly nocturnal. You usually need binoculars to spot them and it is the most difficult cat to spot when you are in the African bushveld. Well, not the leopards found at Londolozi! We even spotted two mating!
Apparently, our visit happened to be during the animal's mating season. We had the privilege of seeing lions, wild dogs and leopards mate as well as a very sexually aroused elephant taking a stroll, whom we nicknamed the six-legged elephant.
We spotted lionesses with their cubs on our first game drive and then annoyed Greg and Equalizer the entire time to locate the lion. After all, it’s the king that matters most! On the last game drive, Greg dropped Equalizer off in the middle of the bushveld so that he could track the lion and they delivered! We saw the king of the jungle, his lioness and you know what happens next! 😉
The Giraffes were a little more difficult to spot but we enjoyed observing a few during our drives.
Another highlight of our South Africa safari trip was seeing a rhinoceros with her baby. Not only are they part of the big five but to have the opportunity of seeing a calf is amazing!
At the end of each game drive, we stopped to watch the sunset and enjoy a little snack as well as a drink of our choice in the bushveld.
Why Londolozi Made Our Trip Unforgettable
My husband’s parents were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary that week and the amazing team at Londolozi planned an incredible surprise on our last evening.
Near the end of our game drive, we had finally found the two mating leopards. And Greg makes the excuse that we must head over to the sunset to have our drink and that we would then return for the leopards later. After driving through several designated “sunset areas” and continuously asking where he was taking us for these drinks, we arrived at our location and words cannot describe what they had planned for us.
They set up an area with tons of props where we shot a family portrait and later made our way to a beautiful seating area surrounded by fire torches with the sunset as our backdrop. They also had a wine tasting and other mezze dishes prepared for us. We enjoyed some time chatting, while drinking some fabulous wine with Thais, Christie, Alice, Greg and Equalizer, a few of the wonderful people at Londolozi that made our stay incredibly special.
The attention to detail and friendly service is the best I’ve experienced and I cannot recommend Londolozi enough! What a great group of people!
Londolozi exceeded our expectations and we had the best time, if you are looking for luxury, great service, good food and an amazing game viewing experience this is the place to be!
If you haven’t been yet, what is your idea of a dream South Africa safari trip? If you are one of the lucky ones to have experienced one, I’d love to hear all about it! Share your comments below!