Into the wild
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.