Heading to the Kruger National Park in the first week of December may not be for the faint hearted… and while I don’t consider myself to be faint of heart – I started questioning my decision as we watched the temperature gauge in the car hit 47 degrees C and continue to climb.
But then, we arrived at Jock Safari Lodge – and not long after we had been shown to our rooms, I was reminded why it’s worth coming to the Park in the height of summer, as the grey clouds rolled in and we were treated to the most dramatic of downpours. The kind of storm that’s been building up over the course of several weeks. The kind of deluge that resulted in little rivulets cascading down into the perennially dry riverbed that surrounds the lodge and lit up the evening sky with Mother Nature’s very own fireworks show. Simply spectacular.
Centrally located in the heart of Kruger’s wildlife-dense south-western section, Jock Safari Lodge provides its guests with the opportunity to enjoy the very best game drives, but without the crowds. What a treat it is to be able to meander along the private roads in Jock’s 6,000-hectare concession, without another vehicle in sight. Indeed, the best game viewing of our entire weekend happened within a few kilometres of the lodge, including an hour spent gazing in awe-struck wonder at a leopard cub and its mother, as well as a quick sighting of a pack of wild dogs in the early morning.
The lodge was the first privately owned and operated concession in the Kruger National Park, and was more recently acquired by the Caleo Foundation – a non-profit conversation organisation. The aim of the foundation is to preserve and protect nature and wilderness areas, whilst providing guests with the opportunity to experience and appreciate nature in its purest form without leaving a negative impact.
Adding to this sense of exclusivity is a lovely, yet welcoming sense of luxury. The 12 suites at Jock Safari Lodge have been completely redone – with each featuring a mosquito net-draped daybed sala overlooking the riverbed, a private plunge pool and enormous bathrooms that allow you to enjoy the view from where ever you may be – the indoor and outdoor showers, the bedroom or the cosy lounge. Best of all – it was easy to stay cool as the temperatures once again started to peak, with air conditioning and ceiling fans, making it the perfect spot to enjoy summer in the Park. Subtle nods to South Africa’s most famous ‘staffie’ Jock, are tastefully dotted around the lodge – from bedtime stories from Sir Percy Fitzpatrick’s famous novel placed on the pillows at night, to artwork adorning the walls.
The central areas are designed to get guests interacting – and indeed we fast made friends with our game-drive buddies – relationships further cemented over delicious meals. Particularly enjoyable was the slightly more casual “braai” night where we enjoyed a choice of perfectly grilled prawns or rib eye on the bone, followed by a smorgasbord of sweet treats. A delightful ending to a weekend of Kruger magic.
For more information about Jock Safari Lodge, visit www.jocksafarilodge.com.