Jock’s world still much as it was
Visitors can experience the peace of a place largely unchanged for a century
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