Into the wild

RISKSA Magazine - - Travel - A

The lodge

Camp Jab­u­lani is the per­fect place to steep one’s soul in the warmth and el­e­gance of this amaz­ing African prop­erty. The vil­las seam­lessly blends into the sur­round­ing bush. The main boma com­prises of an open-plan dining room and lounge, which extends onto a wooden deck shaded by enor­mous leaded trees that have been in­te­grated into the con­struc­tion of the lodge. Guests are es­corted (this is, after­all, a big five re­serve) from the living ar­eas to the se­cluded suites via a hang­ing bridge that stretches across the river. The riverbed houses six pri­vate and in­de­pen­dent luxury suites to ac­com­mo­date a to­tal of 12 guests. The rooms are gor­geous, each kit­ted out with a mas­sive canopy bed, a large stone tub and glass out­door shower, a pri­vate lounge area com­plete with fire­place, and a com­pletely pri­vate plunge pool. All the suites have 24-hour tem­per­a­ture con­trol to en­sure the com­plete com­fort of guests. Guests also have ac­cess to the Ther­apy Lapa where they can re­lax and re­ju­ve­nate af­ter a long day in the African bush. We had no idea how long the drive to the re­serve would be and were sur­prised when the su­per-com­fort­able con­verted Landy De­fender turned nei­ther right nor left on ex­it­ing the Hoed­spruit main gate. In­stead, our ranger drove straight across the tar­mac into the en­trance of the main Ka­pama Pri­vate Game Re­serve, in­side which Camp Jab­u­lani is sit­u­ated. I was pretty happy that we didn’t spend much time on that road, and even if we lived in Jo­han­nes­burg I think I would still fly to Hoed­spruit. The stretch of the N1 be­tween Pre­to­ria and Lim­popo, both north- and south­bound are in the top five of the most danger­ous roads in South Africa with 47 and 54 av­er­age an­nual fa­tal­i­ties re­spec­tively. And so it was an ab­so­lute bonus when our air­port trans­fer turned into a fully fledged game drive, full of sight­ings of warthogs, spring­bok and im­pala, just min­utes from the air­port. When we ar­rived at the camp the ele­phants had just fin­ished ca­vort­ing in the large pool close to the boma, and we en­joyed an in­cred­i­ble spread of de­lec­ta­ble Amarula in­spired good­ies for lunch, the first of sev­eral de­li­cious meals that just seemed to get bet­ter and bet­ter as the week­end wore on. It was at this lunch that we were in­tro­duced to Au­drey Delsink, head of the Makalali Re­search Depart­ment. Au­drey – who is able to iden­tify more than 50 in­di­vid­ual ele­phants by their unique ear pat­tern and is about to com­plete her doc­tor­ate – spoke to us about her work at the ele­phant project at Makalali. She also let slip that she suf­fers ter­ri­bly from air­sick­ness and ad­mit­ted to ‘prob­a­bly hav­ing thrown up in ev­ery sin­gle park’s board he­li­copter in ser­vice’. You see, Au­drey’s job is to se­date the ele­phants with a dart gun so that they can have a satel­lite col­lar track­ing sys­tem fit­ted and the he­li­copter flight to find th­ese huge an­i­mals is a nec­es­sary, if un­pleas­ant, part of the job for her.

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