Thursday, April 27, 2017

Safari: Camp Jabulani

It has been a fun family adventure sharing our safari with Barb and Joe, but once we landed in  Hoedspruit, Kruger Park, South Africa, we went our separate ways. We would not see them again until we are back in Michigan. Since they had joined us late in the planning, there was no space for them at Camp Jabulani. Thus, we spent Christmas in separate places and would leave the area on separate flights. Perhaps we would see them at the airport on our last day.

Looking toward the other end.
We were met at the airport by our professional game ranger, Dean, and said goodbye to Barb and Joe as they were off to a different location. So once again we were not with family for Christmas, but I can assure you Camp Jabulani made up for it!

Camp Jabulani is in the Kapama Reserve adjacent to Kruger National Park. It is a family-owned and managed private lodge offering first class accommodations, cuisine, facilities and personalized service. There was no set agenda; we planned our activities each day with our ranger, who guided our selection based on what the best opportunities of the day might be. Thus, the three of us drove, hiked, watched, photographed, etc. some amazing sights. This was a 5-star experience every moment.

Our little living room.
Our private lodge had its own plunge pool, a massive stone bathtub (you know my love of a good soak!), a fireplace in the lounge area, an outdoor glassed shower and a king-sized bed looking out the sliding glass doors.

The setting of each of the eight lodge buildings is very remote and private. We crossed a swinging bridge to our lodge. The bridge helps to keep the animals from coming into the lodge compound area. Once again, we needed to be escorted by our ranger whenever walking to the main buildings in the dark! It is the wild animal kingdom, after all.

A luxurious bath awaited me!

The bridge is just around the bend. Our lodge building
is just to the right of this walkway, but up a private path.

Our table for two with the Philly family in the background.
Mealtimes at Camp Jabulani were special! Talk about royal treatment! Just as the literature said, the chef created “perfectly sized masterpieces that are a symphony of color, texture and balance, flavor and fresh ingredients.” I think I gained ten pounds during this indulgent stay.

At first, we sat at a table for two. After a couple of meals, we were invited to join a family of four from Philadelphia. That made it more lively in terms of conversation. After all, we have a lot of togetherness on the boat, so we always welcome the chance to join a larger assembly.

We enjoyed the company of Bill, Marsha, Adam and Audrey during the rest of the meals and at Sundowner events. They were the ones who recommended a driver to use for a tour when we returned to Cape Town. It turned out to be a good choice.

Each day we would set off with Dean on a game drive early in the morning and then return for a big breakfast and a snooze. After a later lunch, we would head out for an early evening game drive and return for a gourmet dinner. Following after dinner drinks, we were off to see what we could find in the late night.

The most notable feature of Camp Jabulani is the herd of trained elephants which were rescued by the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre. The featured elephant is Jabulani and he is also the logo for the liquor Amarula. Jabulani is the lead elephant on the elephant safaris.

The highlight of one day was our introduction to the Camp Jabulani elephants! They were amazing: huge, but gentle. I felt so small when standing next to Jabulani. The texture of his skin was rough with short hairs sticking out. Not exactly a creature to pet! The ears and trunk were entertaining.

When he took treats from our hands, the “lips” of his trunk were very gentle. The elephant handlers bridge the gap between guest and giant with an introduction of each elephant by name and personality.

Elephants are very social animals. The handlers gave insight into the lives of this herd and the individual elephants. It was fun to watch them interact both while we were riding on a safari and when they were playing at the watering hole.

One of the young ones was a bit of a rebel. He didn’t walk in line, but took shortcuts. At the watering hole, he was the instigator of playfulness.

Every afternoon the handlers take the elephants to the watering hole where they are most playful. They like to kneel down in the water to cool off. Their play was quite entertaining and we could easily tell which were the "troublemakers" in the group. It was fun "trouble" and fun for us to watch.

We even returned to the watering hole at sundown to watch sunset end our day. I must say we had Sundowners is some amazing settings throughout this adventure.

Sundowners at the watering hole.
Then back to the lodge for dinner and a night drive.

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