Africa has an ethereal quality…its breath whispers on plains of grass, its sound whistles in the bushveld trees, its heart sits in the souls of wild animals and its dust remains on one’s feet…forever”. J.C. Smuts
We fell asleep to the sound of lions roaring on our first night at Jock Safari Lodge. This was followed by the roar of thunder. The wake-up call came too soon at 5am. Most of the other guests opted to sleep in on account of the weather, but never one to miss a game drive, I dragged myself and my husband out of bed. An hour later, we sat watching two lionesses and six adorable cubs frolicking near an elephant carcass while the avaricious vultures hovered overhead. I was in my happy place, glad that I had heeded the call of the wild instead of that of sleep.
Later that day we spent some time watching a gorgeous mother and daughter leopard pair having their kill stolen by hyenas. We’d been to the Kruger National Park many times before but the game viewing on this trip was unparalleled. Our guide Micah consistently impressed us with his incredible eyesight, spotting a chameleon and an African wild cat at night, inter alia. We also saw the rest of the Big Five, hyenas, a honey badger, baboons, a crocodile and copious amounts of plains game.
Situated in an easily accessible part of Kruger National Park, in the first privately owned and operated concession, the colonial-style Jock Safari Lodge overlooks the confluence of two rivers which attracts myriad wildlife and birdlife. The area is regarded as one of the best in the park for its Big Five wildlife viewing. Guides can off-road for predator sightings, as well as exclusively traverse riverbeds.
Named after the courageous true-life canine hero from the book “Jock of the Bushveld”, set during South Africa’s first gold rush era, Jock Safari Lodge was built by the descendants of Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, Jock’s owner and author of the book.
With its old-world elegance and charm, it is reminiscent of a bygone era when fortune seekers and explorers roamed the land. The main reception area consists of a large tent with leather travel trunks flanking the safari-style vintage furniture. Old wagons dot the lodge grounds, along with a sculptural tribute to Jock.
The expansive deck at the main lodge, where most meals are eaten, features a rock swimming pool, sunbeds and cane swings. Steps built into a 400-year-old jackalberry tree lead to an upper relaxation area, while the indoor lounge at the bottom houses a library with old tomes and wildlife DVD’s. Historic photographs adorn the walls of the lodge.
The twelve thatched suites are named after prominent places in the book and set in secluded sections under a canopy of trees. Each one has an open-plan lounge and bedroom area, and a spacious bathroom with side-by-side showers and basins facing the outdoors. Special touches include Lavazza coffee machines with Maxwell and Williams mugs, a minibar, and fascinating reading material.
The suites lead out onto private timber decks overlooking the riverbed. With plunge pools, outdoor showers, Victorian bathtubs, and salas with daybeds, they are perfect for relaxing between game drives, as well as sleep-outs!
Three meals a day, in addition to high tea and pre-safari morning tea with muffins ensured that we didn’t get hungry. The friendly restaurant staff served us wholesome comfort food like potjies, curries and roasts, taking our dietary requirements into account.
Jock Safari Lodge is great for families too. The Main Jock Lodge accommodates children from 6 years and older, while its sister lodge, Fitzpatrick’s Villa, accommodates younger children as well. Kids’ activities can be arranged. We saw many young children during our stay, and they were all having a great time. My teenage son also loved it.
It was also heartening to note that foreign tourists are returning to South Africa. Our fellow guests were from USA, Germany and Mozambique, along with some other South Africans.
Whether this is your first visit to Kruger National Park or your fiftieth, a stay at this bushveld sanctuary will definitely make it unforgettable, like ours.
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