Following a considered refurbishment, storied bush retreat Jock Safari Lodge in the Kruger National Park has reopened with a fresh, contemporary look that pays quiet homage to its heritage
Explore the revamped Jock Safari Lodge in the Kruger National Park
There’s history entwined in most details at Jock Safari Lodge, from documented remnants of the past that are framed on walls or serving as museum-type artefacts on the grounds to more sentimental examples relating to sweet family memories.
Named after the beloved canine in Sir Percy FitzPatrick’s Jock of the Bushveld, this private concession in the Kruger National Park was founded by the Niven family, descendants of the author, in 1982. The gathered relics, from antiquated wagons to heirloom furniture, are spread all about the five-star lodge, imparting a nostalgic narrative to what would otherwise be a classic safari-camp experience.
Interior designer Jean-Marie de Vos, who project-managed Jock’s refurbishment for travel company Luxury Frontiers, has a photograph of her grandmother posed in front of the lodge’s sign back in the ’80s. It’s provided her with a more personal connection to the place. ‘We had to work with existing elements to retain what people love about Jock,’ De Vos says of their task to honour the lodge’s legacy while updating it with ‘a clean and fresh perspective’. Much of the design work came down to simplifying fussy details, straightening lines and opening up spaces, she says.
A ‘memorabilia passage’ was created along the walkway leading to the dining area, where time-worn photographs and other characterful pieces have been thoughtfully curated to statement-making effect. With the old taken care of, the new manifests in a blast of contemporary styling, from the communal leisure spaces to the 12 thatched suites camouflaged among the jackalberry trees.
Guests are swept through to a chic arrival tent in utilitarian canvas layered with animal hides, textural sofas in charcoal tones, leather butterfly chairs and vintage travel trunks. The dining area has been completely overhauled, with foldaway glass doors that open to an expanded deck for al fresco dining. Where previously there was a preponderance of reddened, over-varnished wood, now it’s light and bright, marked by pops of emerald green that echo the sun-dappled canopy of trees. With its former incarnation similarly dated, the upstairs bar is now a casually glamorous spot for taking in some of the action on the riverbed over a gin and tonic.
Ensconced in your secluded suite, you might not want to venture out at all.
With a private plunge pool and a generous sala, or day bed, positioned directly above the riverbed – a must for night-time sleep-outs or relaxing with a book by day – each suite also boasts an outdoor slipper bath and separate outdoor shower. But considering that Jock offers a vast 6 000ha of exclusive traversing rights, the call of the wild is a very real lure to throw on clothes and be perched on your game vehicle well before sunrise. Considering its location at the confluence of the Mitomeni and Biyamiti Rivers, it’s favourably positioned for some otherwise rare or chance game sightings. jocksafarilodge.com