As part of a 10 night trip to SA, my husband and I recently (01/05/14) stayed at Camp Jabulani for 4 nights. We flew to Hoedspruit from Johanesburg via SA Airways and were collected by Ruan, our dedicated ranger who was awaiting us at the airport.
Ruan took us on the short (30 min) drive to the Camp, although the actual entrance to the private reserve was literally opposite the airport, and we got our first glimpse of the wildlife.
Upon arrival we were greeted by Kate who runs the camp, with a glass of bubbly and introduced to the Butlers who would take care of us at mealtimes.
The main public areas of the lodge, both inside and out were beautifully designed and built and from there Kate took us across the bridge over the riverbed to our suite. When we entered it was absolutely stunning and as described, very isolated, surrounded by the Bush on 3 sides and with patio doors out to a deck and plunge pool looking out into the Bush and riverbed.
Whilst there we did 3 different safaris on the elephants 2 “sundowners” and 1 at night. All were superb. Being on top of the magnificent animals looking down on the world, but still knowing that the elephants were in charge and happy was incredible.
Basically all the elephants were orphans (including Jabulani after whom the camp is named), injured or born at the Camp and whilst they did the safaris and had handlers (who really love and care for them and NEVER use force) led by Tiger, they are free to roam where they want most of the day.
We also did game drives by jeep with Ruan every day and had a once in a lifetime encounter petting cheetahs at the endangered species centre. All were wonderful and we saw all the Big 5 over the 4 days, but on our last full day we saw them all again (and plenty more) only a few feet away within the space of a few hours (as well as a great picnic and spectacular sunset).
The animals were obviously the highlight, but anywhere else it would have been the food and wine prepared and recommended by the Camp chef, Andre. Andre came out before every meal, including breakfast and personally talked through the menu, checked if there was anything we did or didn’t like and recommended wines to compliment the menu. Whilst we were there we didn’t have a single course of a single meal that not only tasted delicious but was beautifully presented. On our wedding anniversary Kate arranged for a private table to be set up in the wine cellar and Andre prepared us an anniversary cake. Just another example of some lovely little touches throughout our trip that made it even more special.
So our thanks to Kate, Phil, Andre, Tiger, all the Butlers and housekeepers and in particular our superb Ranger, Ruan for really giving us an incredible holiday.
To sum up, Camp Jabulani is a bit more costly than most of the safaris you will see, especially within package deals, although the “fully inclusive” price covers everything we have mentioned and much more.
However, for us it gave us a true “Once in a Lifetime” experience, was worth every penny and we could not recommend it highly enough
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Camp Jabulani, a family-owned private safari lodge, is guaranteed to offer first class accommodation, cuisine, facilities and personalised service. But its most notable feature is the herd of trained African elephants, which were rescued by the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre. Over and above its once-in-a-lifetime elephant-back safaris, guests are also able to join experienced rangers in safari vehicles as they head out in search of The Big 5, and the smaller creatures that are part of an African Safari; visits to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre or simple relaxation around the camp or in the "Bush Spa". The exclusive Zindoga Villa is ideally suited to family travellers, or the client who prefers a more private, luxury experience. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Camp Jabulani Hotel Hoedspruit
- Camp Jabulani South Africa/Hoedspruit