Our welcome at Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge in the Kruger National Park was very African and rather unique. Shortly after our arrival, as we sat and completed the mandatory paperwork in the brightly coloured communal lounge, a herd of elephants paraded past the lodge deck, their trunks moving up and down, as though they were saluting us. It was one of the most beautiful welcomes to the bush that we’d ever received. Co-incidentally, Hoyo Hoyo means “welcome” in the local Shangaan language.
Located on an ancient elephant route on the Mluwati River in a 10 000 hectare private concession bordering the Sabi Sand and Manyeleti Game Reserves, the five-star lodge truly feels like it is in the remote wilderness. It is also unfenced. You realise what this really means when you see an elephant feeding from the tree next to your room, or you see a spotted hyena trotting away from the lodge in the morning. Or when the staff regale you with anecdotes of animals killing each other on the lodge deck!
Officially opened in 2002, Hoyo Hoyo is rather uniquely designed as far as safari lodges go. Based on Tsonga-Shangaan culture, the ancient African settlement theme is complemented by modern comforts. The lodge is intimate with just six rooms and a grand communal area spread around a clearing under the shade of ancient leadwood trees.
Accommodation is in thatched, round, burnt orange stone huts with en-suite bathrooms as well as reed-enclosed outdoor showers. The rooms overlook the river bed and the savannah beyond, where you often see wild animals passing by.
Bright splashes of colour, and traditional accessories liven up the earthy décor in the rooms, which are equipped with electric blankets, air-conditioners, beverage facilities, and Charlotte Rhys toiletries.
A typical day at Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge consists of an early morning wake-up knock, then tea and coffee in the main lodge and a 3-hour morning game drive. You return to breakfast, then there is some free time followed by lunch. During this time, you can go on a bush walk or relax at the swimming pool with a book. After lunch, there is an opportunity for a siesta before high tea and the next game drive. Dinner under the stars awaits, then it is time to fall asleep to the sounds of the bush.
The hearty meals are served on the deck, weather permitting, where you can enjoy the view as you eat. Lunches and dinners consist of three courses each, and we enjoyed the chef’s fish and vegetarian dishes made especially for us, as well as the delicious desserts like malva pudding and lemon meringue.
Game drives in the Mluwati Concession were a pleasure, with no other cars or tourists around besides those of Hoyo Hoyo and it’s two sister properties, Imbali Safari Lodge and Hamiltons Tented Camp. One morning, we watched a pack of over 20 wild dogs hunting and then eating an impala. More than half of them were puppies. The following morning, we saw a pride of 14 lions relaxing. We also saw buffalos, elephants, hyenas, jackals and many species of plains game and birds on our game drives.
With no internet or mobile reception, internal communication is by two-way radio. External communication is non-existent unless you go to Imbali or pick up reception during your game drives. However, the absence of cellular networks adds to the remote wilderness ambience and allows complete relaxation. Normally an insomniac, I slept amazingly well there.
The cultural theme within the wilderness setting, the charming accommodation, warm hospitality and traditional cuisine will ensure an unforgettable safari experience. Give Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge to opportunity to say “Hoyo Hoyo” to you.
Rates include accommodation, all meals, two game drives daily and laundry. They exclude Kruger National Park entrance fees. See the current SA resident specials here.
Covid protocols are in place including temperature checking and screening on arrival. Rooms are sterilised on check-out and prior to re-occupation. Sanitisers are provided.
Children 12 years and older are welcome and are accommodated in their own rooms.
The nearest Kruger National Park gate is Orpen. You can also enter from Paul Kruger Gate, which takes a bit longer.