Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Why You Should Visit A Luxury African Game Lodge At Least Once In Your Lifetime

Close your eyes so the darkness envelops you. No this is not a re-birthing experience, I promise I am not a shaman or a kook. Okay back to the darkness, you are laying in a king bed, the billowy canopy falling loosely to surround you. In the dark your senses are heightened, a cool breeze tickles your face and out of the darkness comes a deep sawing sound as if someone is cutting the tress down outside your door. In your new found Doctor Livingston wisdom you know this is a lone Cheeteah waiting out in the night, his broken purr filling the cool night air. As you ponder the exotic Cheetah feeling so far from home you are startled by the trumpeting of an elephant and there is no mistaking that you are in Africa.

Just the name Africa, conjures up feelings from childhood. The dark continent holds a mystical place in many a psyche. A place where wild, dangerous animals roam and tribal life remains frozen as if in stasis, a window into the past.

Okay that's enough with the romantic bullshit, how did I do? Did I take you there or did I sound like a wanker?

About five years ago my job as a travel agent took me to South Africa. It was a familiarisation tour with Scenic Tours that covered Capetown, Johannesburg and Kruger National Park. In true Scenic Tours style there was a little indulgence. That indulgence came in the form of 3 nights accommodation at a Luxury Game Lodge in Kruger. Tinga is a lodge within the Lion Sands Game Reserve. If you want a travel experience that will be forever imprinted on your mind and heart this is it.

As you enter the property you cross through the gates and come into the main lodge. The main lodge, where you can relax and your inclusive meals are served can only be described as, I am going to coin a phrase here, ready for it...Safari Chic. The high wooden beamed and thatched ceiling soars above you, the open fire roars away and plush armchairs await you. As you continue through the lodge you come out onto a back deck, wrapped around a sprawling shady tree and overlooking the rushing Sabie River this provides a magnificent location for long lazy lunches and wildlife viewing.

With only 9 suites spread out from the main lodge and privately positioned you know you are in for a personalised stay. The suites themselves are accessed via raised walkways and despite being protected by walls and fences if you return to your lodge at night you will be accompanied by armed security which adds to the excitement. Once inside the lodge if you can distract yourself from the thoughts of diving into that king canopied bed you will be met by a 180 degree uninterrupted view of the African bush.

This was my first experience with an open bathroom. It wasn't open air but the floor to ceiling windows shared those bushland views and did not have any coverings. It felt a little odd at first, you were expecting someone to pop their head around the corner at anytime but as I relaxed I warmed up to the feeling of bathing and showering whilst looking across the African bushland.

My absolute favourite feature of the suites was the private plunge pool out on the deck. We were lucky enough to have the very last room in the row where there is a chance of animals coming right up to the lodge where the fencing comes in close to the end of the resort. Sitting out there in your own pool listing to the wildlife around you makes you feel as if you have stepped into the pages of a great novel, Out of Africa... minus the hardship.

This is all starting to sound a little much isn't it. Let's get to the real point of a trip to Kruger, the game drives. The thrill of heading out before dawn, all rugged up in blankies in an open air truck. Just six of you per car for best viewing opportunities. You have your tracker sitting out the front of the truck, the ranger at the wheel and you are connected via walkie talkies to the other rangers all out  in various locations looking for the wildlife.

You come across the wildlife in so many ways. You might turn a corner & boom there is a family of elephants crossing the river or a group of Giraffes wandering down the track. You might need to head to a look out to spot that elusive rhino. You could get a call on the walkie talkie to say another group has spotted a cheetah and you rush off to it's location before it slinks back into hiding. You could head down to the dry river bed to quietly sit next to a sleeping pride of lions. You could stumble on a family of mischievous monkeys rumbling through the trees or a pack of Warthogs that remind you of that fat happy Pumba from the Lion King. You will stop for sunset drinks and canapes and you will wonder how you will ever leave this place. It is a different world out there these game lodges are the portal to amazing discovery, forget the zoo this is the real deal.

On our final night we were out on our last game drive. The air had turned cold and we were all wrapped up in our blankets. The ranger called in a sighting and we headed off through the night time bush is search of animals. To our surprise we pulled up at a bush camp all lit up with lanterns and fires. We were led to dinner tables all decked out as if in a five star restaurant but we were actually on the red dusty earth in the middle of no-where. A large buffet of local delicacies was unveiled as well as a bar to whet out thirsty palates. Out there is the wilds, protected by the rangers, eating and drinking this surprise bush dinner was a highlight of the stay. These lodges miss nothing in impressing the guest.

You won't have to sell your soul to stay here but you will need to do some saving, this is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination but is one of those experiences that will live with you in the recesses of your soul, forever etched as a memory that will enliven your spirit in your darkest moments.
Originally posted on Wednesday, 2 September 2015 by


  1. I think that would be lovely except for the fact that it IS a game lodge!

    1. Hi Phonakins,
      Thanks for reading. Just so there is no confusion here. Tinga is a lodge that is used as a base to view game in Kruger National Park, not hunt game.

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