2023 should be the year you visit South Africa and experience the safari that you’ve dreamt about for years.
For as long as I can remember a luxury safari had been on my travel bucket list. So, when I got the opportunity to adventure to Africa for a safari with the South African Tourism Board, there was no question I would be on the first flight out.
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After flying from Johannesburg to Kruger National and landing on a small dirt strip I was welcomed by my personal guide and we were less than 20 minutes from Jabulani Safari Lodge.
During the 20-minute drive to Jabulani, we saw antelopes, giraffes, topi, and buffalo grazing in the plains. The amount and variety of animals we saw before even reaching the lodge was a stunning surprise.
South African safari lodges are some of the most exquisite and luxurious in all of Africa – when it comes to the quality of the décor, food, and guides South Africa’s safari lodges have been way ahead for quite some time.
I love traveling to Kruger National Park because you have some of the most dramatic and best game viewing in the world, and also have access to some of the world’s most exclusive South African luxury safari lodges.
This is where Jabulani Safari Lodge comes into play. In this exclusive sanctuary, you will get up close and personal with Africa’s gentle giants while treating yourself to sublime luxury, beginning with your private bungalow, with its own splash pool, viewing deck, fireplace-bedecked lounge, and individual butler.
Over the next three days, we did two full-night game drives with our Jabulani Safari guide. It was as if he had a map of where every single animal would be at just the right time.
We were lucky enough to see the big 5 on our first drive out — as well as a pride of lions seeking shade under acacia trees and having a toothy yawn in the sun.
We admired the herds of elephants caring for their weeks-old babies and the Rhino’s hanging out by the watering hole.
It’s not unusual to see all of the Big 5 (elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion, and leopard) in one day, plus fantastic sightings of sought-after species like cheetahs and wild dogs.
Because it’s such a big area – almost 1.5 times larger than Connecticut – we frequently get asked: Which part of Kruger National Park is the best?
To experience crowd-free game viewing deciding where the best lodges in Kruger National Park can be exhausting so I recommend staying at Jabulani private game reserves.
Jabulani Reserve offers couples, honeymooners, honeymooners, and families a luxury safari experience bar none – think superb service, even better cuisine, fully equipped gyms, tranquil health spas, and private butler services!
Throw in smooth-running logistics, some of Africa’s best trackers and guides, plus off-road game viewing and night game drives for the best Kruger National Park safari vacation.
The luxurious Camp Jabulani has only six suites and never caters to more than 12 guests so the staff at Camp Jabulani will ensure your every need will be met whether it’s a dish you would like prepared or you are celebrating an anniversary or honeymoon.
The outstanding suites all flank the dry riverbed and are all individually decorated but in the same elegant, open style. and I had access to the main lodge’s lounge, dining room, and fabulous safari spa or Therapy Lapa.
Keep reading for a detailed review of Jabulani Kruger Lodge and click here for my Safari Packing List.
Jabulani Safari Lodge- South Africa luxury Safari
🚙 The Location:
The location was just breathtaking, only a short drive away from Hoedspruit Airport and you are literally in the South African Bush!
Jason our guide met us at the airport when we arrived, and we just knew we had arrived because our journey to the Camp was unforgettable, Jabulani himself even made an appearance on our way in!
- Daily flights operate from. both Johannesburg and Cape Town are operated by South African Express and Airlink
- A private landing strip is available for private charters access to Jabulani
- Complimentary 20-minute transfers are provided between Jabulani and Hoedspruit Eastgate Airport (HDS)
- Jabulani is approximately a 5-hour drive from Johannesburg
The Main Lodge:
The style and ambiance of Jabulani exude luxury with hints of home. The main area features an elegant dining room and lounge that lead to an outside wooden deck lying beneath the shade of Leadwood trees.
This is where you will enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily while overlooking the waterhole.
The signature suspension bridge stretches gracefully over the river bed, connecting to the six Jabulani suites and Zindoga Villa which is how you will get to your room from the main area.
Camp Jabulani is a superbly luxurious safari getaway. It’s all rich wood furniture, crystal glasses, and silver service. The meals are feasts, the wines are fine, the lounge area has wireless internet, and the bushveld views from the wooden deck.
🛏️ The Room at Jabulani:
This luxury South African Safari lodge has six suites which are secluded, with canvas walls that roll up to reveal the surrounding wilderness.
Each suite is air-conditioned and has a lounge area and fireplace for cold nights, an en-suite bathroom with a stone tub and glass-walled outdoor shower, and a plunge pool.
The beds are huge, with pure cotton sheets and draped mosquito nets. The larger Zindoga Villa which is the villa I stayed in has two individual suites linked by a lounge and serviced by a private chef, butler, and game ranger.
Each suite has an en-suite bathroom, expansive lounge, dining room, and outside deck in the shared area.
I have never walked into a building or room and been speechless until I walked into our suite. There were elephant towels on the bed and the attention to detail is just outstanding, even down to the little natural leaf-cut elephants on the flannels.
The view from our room overlooked the reserve where you could see animals walking past. Check out the full-length video of our room on my IG reel.
🍴The Restaurant at Jabulani:
The food was outstanding and what made it even more special was that every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner we got to spend time with @chef_alexzander who would personalize the menu for me each day.
The chef will come out and talk to you even just to ask you about your day, this man is a genuinely kind person who cares about his guests.
Y’all know I am a foodie and lover of craft cocktails so the menu options must be on point for me to provide an honest review.
The main thing I loved about the Jabulani was that the menus change daily and the chefs use only delicious and fresh ingredients, produced in the surrounding area.
Delectables such as freshly-baked muffins, teatime treats, and sundowner snacks are all made fresh by the chefs themselves, daily.
The Camp can also pair wine with your meal from their extensive wine collection, to create the ultimate experience for your dinner in the bush or in the dining area.
Mealtimes are flexible, and the venues tend to change, which is mostly weather dependent, and ensures you get to experience a candlelit dinner, should you want time out from the family, or a traditional boma night by the fire, surrounded by lanterns and starry night skies.
Jabulani is an all-inclusive experience and all meals and snacks are included during your stay, as well as a wide selection of beverages.
🐘 Elephant Interactions:
Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.
Looks like a scene from National Geographic. All of the elephants at Camp Jabulani are rescued orphans @herd_elephants and they provide a safe place for these gentle giants, who are very much loved and part of the most wonderful Jabulani family.
It was just so special getting to spend time with them and feed them when we got to meet three of the biggest ambassador elephants Jabulani, Sebakwe, Somopane.
🦁 Game Drives:
Definitely one of the best parts of our trip, was that we got to meet our own private safari ranger Jason who was just ok. While he was extremely knowledgeable about the animals and the park he was not the friendliest.
He answered all of my questions but it felt like I was getting on his nerves again he did his job and we managed to see all of the Big 5 and so much more on our first trip out.
He was also not very kind to the African ladies that worked there and the ladies actually seemed afraid of him. When we stopped for the snack on the evening game drive I made sure I talked to them and asked questions.
The guide was literally “mean mugging” her the entire time. This was the only downside I experienced at the lodge and while the other staff was super attentive and nice this guy just was not the friendliest but I did not allow his attitude to stop me from enjoying myself.
Morning Game Drives
If you don’t mind waking up at the crack of dawn you can take advantage of the early morning game drives. This will give you the opportunity of appreciating the sounds and beauty of the bush awakening.
Not my cup of tea because I am not a morning person so I only participated in the evening drives.
Your dedicated Jabulani ranger will ensure that your safari experience is tailor-made to your personal preference, whether laid back and relaxed or filled with game viewing and other activities.
Learn about our inspiring journey that began with a herd of elephants being rescued nearly twenty years ago.
Their devoted elephant carers share insightful stories of their life journeys with the Jabulani herd and you will have the opportunity to respectfully observe the elephants during their daily routines
Watch while they enjoy their midday swim, forage in the wild, and amble past the dam at sunset to their homestead before nightfall.
Truly a soulful, insightful, and unforgettable experience.
The rangers do their best to make sure you will see the Big Five. I was not expecting them to impart the amount of knowledge they did. They seemed to know about every animal, from the dung beetle to the giraffe.
Game drives are available at sunrise, sunset, and night. Each time of day and camp provides travelers with different game-viewing opportunities, so consider scheduling multiple drives while visiting Jabulani.
As I said I am not a morning person so I only signed up for the night drive.
Additionally, drives last two to three-and-a-half hours, so dress and pack accordingly. Long-sleeved clothes and a jacket, sunscreen, and water are highly recommended.
I also suggest bringing snacks but remember to keep items secure at all times and to dispose of garbage in designated trash bins.
Evening Game Drives
The evening game drives were my absolute favorite because I don’t want to wake up at 3 am on vacation. That’s a big ass nope, nada, no, not gone be able to do it.
I don’t care what kind of animals are out in the bush I am not waking up at 3 am for anybody.
The glittering stars of the African sky present our wildlife in a totally different way. Using only a spotlight to track the animals, this is a thrilling safari experience that offers excellent sightings of nocturnal animals
The Elephant Experience
The elephant experience will be the highlight of your stay: Watch a herd in close proximity and learn more about their fascinating behavior.
This was the most outstanding, breathtaking, eye-opening, inspiring, and beautiful experience of my life. Being surrounded by all of the beautiful elephants at Camp Jabulani was one of the most magical experiences of my life.
I honestly cannot put into words just how incredible this place is – trust me you are going to want to book a trip to South Africa ASAP!
Set in the beautiful foliage of the reserve lies Camp Jabulani’s Therapy Lapa has an expansive selection ranging from body treatments, hand and foot treatments, natural wraps, and skin-care treatments.
Only 100% natural products are used, so this Therapy Lapa is a must for all Camp Jabulani’s guests. In the cooler winter months, guests can experience a spa treatment in the comfort of their suites in front of a warm, relaxing fire.
I’ve had spa treatments all over the world and this was by far the best and most relaxing spa treatment I’ve ever had it was only $70 USD for a 90 min deep tissue massage.
🗻 Overall Experience:
Everything about this blew us away from the beautiful lodge to the gorgeous location and most importantly to the amazing people who make this place SO special.
I honestly cannot put into words how much this whole experience meant to me the impact the people we met made on my life and I am already planning my next trip because South Africa is not just a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
- Kapama Private Game Reserve supports a wide variety of wildlife
- Plenty of activities including game drives, guided walks, and spa therapy
- Exclusive accommodation consisting of six suites
- Accredited Relais & Châteaux property
- Elephant Experience is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
- Optional extras include helicopter tours of Blyde River Canyon, golf, hot air ballooning, and relaxing spa treatments
Click here to book your stay at Jabulani Game Reserve!
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