Klaserie Sands makes an impression as soon as you arrive. After bumping along dirt tracks through the African bush we emerged in an oasis of lush, manicured lawns leading to the grand entrance to the lodge, grizzled tree trunks holding the porch aloft. As we entered the main space with its high ceilings and dramatic chandelier, owner Lee-Ann welcomed us with a smile, cool towel and fruity drink and ushered us onto the terrace. Wow! (We said this a lot that first afternoon.)
What is life like at a safari lodge in South Africa? We visited two lodges in the Greater Kruger area (Umlani and Klaserie Sands) and, like all lodges, they follow similar schedules to take advantage of when animals are active in the early morning and evening.
Going on safari in South Africa exceeded all our expectations and is one of our favourite travel experiences ever. We saw a huge variety of wildlife, despite visiting during the rainy off-season, and got remarkably close to lions, elephants, rhinos, giraffe, zebra, hyenas, and more.
Going on safari has been a dream of ours for a long time and Umlani Bushcamp was the perfect first safari destination. It’s a rustic, off-the-grid, eco-lodge in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, which shares an unfenced border with Kruger National Park. The camp is small and friendly with a relaxed vibe and it blends into the bush by using natural materials in a traditional African style.
We bumped along the red dirt track through low scrubby bushes, green from the summer rains that has transformed the drought-stricken bush almost overnight. We ducked low hanging branches and clung on as we headed off road, tilting precariously down a steep bank onto a sandy dry riverbed. And then we saw them—the family of elephants munching in the bushes, foraging in the undergrowth with their trunks. Two babies, just one and three years old, adorably cute, hid between the four adults.