Jock’s world still much as it was

Vis­i­tors can ex­pe­ri­ence the peace of a place largely un­changed for a cen­tury

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - TRAVEL 2013 - SA­MAN­THA HARTSHORNE

ACOL­LEC­TION of rivulets along the Biyamiti river, where a lazy bend redi­rects the wa­ter­way through dense, coarse sand, glim­mered in the win­ter breeze.

The dis­tinct kon- koweet of a Gor­geous Bushshrike held the af­ter­noon rhythm in the huge fig tree that shaded us, its roots old enough to hold up the steep bank and beach-ter­race where a fire-bowl smoul­dered. Ev­ery sense prick­led in what felt like the stillest patch of Africa.

It’s along Lowveld rivers such as this that Percy Fitz­patrick and his faith­ful dog Jock, while ex­plor­ing trade routes, took rest as night fell.

In the same way Fitz­patrick would have done more than a cen­tury ago, camp man­ager Du­misane Msi­mango and his men out­spanned at a place close to wa­ter.

When we ar­rived by Landie at Jock Ex­plorer’s Camp the day be­fore, we were es­corted on foot through the bush. With only a wind­mill to hint at any civil­i­sa­tion, it was sur­pris­ing to be led to a large can­vas din­ing tent where high tea awaited us.

Jock Ex­plorer’s is re­mote and in­ti­mate – a bush ex­pe­ri­ence full of lux­u­ri­ous sur­prises.

Like the traders, we set out morn­ing and evening on ex­plo­rative walks into the un­cer­tain bush. A hon­eyguide bird ac­com­pa­nied us on our first evening tramp, and the rangers, car­ry­ing ri­fles, kept our at­ten­tion by let­ting us taste wild cu­cum­ber and koe­boe berries, and sniff fresh rhino dung. With the swish of grass around our an­kles and the oc­ca­sional jump over a river stream, we rounded the camp just when the sun burned pink be­tween the Lead­wood and Tam­boti trees that marked the river’s edge.

Al­though the out­fit can host up to six guests, there were only four of us dur­ing our stay. We shared our camp with a cou­ple from Pre­to­ria.

The team at Jock Ex­plor­ers pride them­selves on see­ing to a guest’s ev­ery quirk. The brunch served af­ter our morn­ing walks and lav­ish fire­side din­ners were ev­ery­thing you would ex­pect of lux­ury lodge fare.

Jock Sa­fari Lodge is the largest and first con­ces­sion in Kruger, and has now in­ven­tively grown its brand – which pre­vi­ously of­fered a 24-sleeper main lodge and a sixsleeper pri­vate lodge – to of­fer an in­ti­mate in­ter­ac­tion with na­ture.

Be­holden to the park in many re­spects, the tem­po­rary Jock Ex­plorer’s will func­tion be­tween May and Oc­to­ber, in the cooler months, said Msi­mango.

“Even though it is a chal­lenge, we plan to move the camp ev­ery few months to en­sure we don’t put a foot­print here so the bush can re­ha­bil­i­tate,” he said.

Msi­mango has had to con­form to safety stan­dards and en­sure park re­cy­cling tenets are ad­hered to.

Pro­vi­sion is made for a he­li­cop-

SA­FARI: A trails camp that em­braces the out­doors, Jock Ex­plorer’s recaptures the peace of yes­ter­year.

BUSH LIFE: Camp man­ager Du­misane Msi­mango brings the bush alive.

OL’ FAITH­FUL: Jock of the bushveld

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