I’ve recently returned from my best ever safari in the Greater Kruger Park. This memorable experience inspired me to host a small group of wildlife enthusiasts on our National Geographic Legacy Safari in May 2019 to save the Kruger Park rhino by supporting their Black Rhino Guardianship Program.
Sitting on the deck of my beautiful suite, overlooking a rocky ridge where a ghostly fever tree stands tall, I watch a family of kudu silently come down to the river to drink. Birds are calling, crocodiles are snapping for fish, hippos are grunting and cicadas are chirping in the heat of the day. This is the Africa I know and love and I want to share it with you! I could sit here for hours as nature takes its course, my reflections interrupted only by an elephant trumpeting downstream.
Of the dozens of safari camps I’ve visited, Singita Lebombo Lodge in the Kruger National Park is nothing to sneeze at. But it’s largely the wildlife in the remote Greater Lebombo Conservancy, at the border with Mozambique, that makes this such a special place. This part of the world is very close to my heart – my father’s ashes are scattered here, and it was my dad who instilled in me my love the African bush.
Our morning and afternoon game drives were very rewarding, starting off with a large pride of lions – including my first ever white lion sighting! This colour mutation is rare – I believe there are only three white lions in the wild.
Later our ranger JP spotted a leopard in the distance, just before it disappeared up a river bank. Then Dan, the tracker – perched on the front of our 4×4 safari vehicle – used his incredible knowledge of the terrain and animal behavior, guiding us through the bush to where the leopard suddenly appeared in front of us! The predator had his eye on a herd of impala, but the hunt was thwarted by a flock of noisy guinea fowl. For a while our cameras were clicking away as this beautiful creature rested in the short grass, just a few feet in front of us.
Next we came across a lone bull elephant and cut the engine to observe this gentle giant. He slowly ambled over to our safari vehicle, then stopped about 3 feet from Dan on the front of our 4×4. Usually I get a little nervous in these situations, but this elephant was so calm and non-threatening – it was an absolute joy to look him in the eye. After a few minutes he moved on… Wow – another memorable up-close and personal sighting!
Rhino! Yes – we spotted white rhinos on two occasions, which was very exciting. These endangered dinosaurs are becoming more difficult to spot in the wild as they are being aggressively poached for their horns.
While toasting the African sunset with the obligatory G&T – overlooking a waterhole – we observed buffalo wallowing in the mud while completely ignoring a huge crocodile lurking nearby. Then a giraffe approached cautiously to take a drink. Have you ever seen a giraffe bend its front legs to reach the water? It must be the most awkward way to quench one’s thirst!
At the end of the day we returned to camp, set spectacularly into the thick green bush. My suite featured luxurious, contemporary décor, a very comfortable bed, air conditioning, in- and outside shower, soaker tub – all encased in floor to ceiling glass walls and embraced by a huge deck with a star bed for those looking for that glamping experience. A fully stocked minibar, teas, snacks, Bose sound system, and a bubble bath awaiting me after the evening game drive… every detail was meticulously taken care of.
The food was outstanding and plentiful, the choice of gin amazing and, if you appreciate wine there’s a huge wine studio stocked with the best South African wines. The warm and friendly hospitality and the entire team’s passion for conservation and community empowerment all added to an unforgettable stay!
So, how do we indulge ourselves AND save the rhino? It’s simple. When you join our National Geographic Legacy Safari in May 2019 a portion of the tour cost is donated to the Black Rhino Guardianship Program, which monitors the black rhino, allowing scientist and rangers to safeguard these endangered animals in the southern Kruger National Park.