HONEYMOON DESTINATION: SUN, SEA, SEYCHELLES AND SAFARI [PART 1]
A popular honeymoon option for many newlyweds is Africa’s awe-inspiring diversity, combining a bush break with a tropical island getaway. To get a first-hand feel for this travel trend, The Sandton Times packed its suitcases for a stop-over in the Seychelles and a Safari sunset in the Kruger National Park to get a taste of African romance.
The sense of adventure Africa offers international visitors is palatable and partnered by JEEP Apparel South Africa, The Sandton Times, looks to explore some of Africa’s best destinations, kitted out by the JEEP store at the Mall of Africa. Donned in the latest outdoor styles and colours for the season, matched with comfort and hardiness, the JEEP range offers an indulgent purchase for both men and women who love the great outdoors – and the comfortable cuts allow for enough movement needed when exploring.
The Safari to Seychelles adventure kicks-off in the world renowned Kruger National Park – a destination for honeymooners from around the world. Jock Safari Lodge can be reached by car, a good 6-hours drive from Johannesburg, or alternatively, a quick flight to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport or Skukuza Airport. Check connections by clicking this link!
Arriving at Kruger Gate at the Kruger National Park, it’s a brief bit of admin before getting the green-light to head into the park and take in one of South Africa’s real treasures. With just under an hour’s drive, the sign of Jock Safari Lodge, tucked away in the heart of the bush, is the first sign of comfort for a somnolent traveler. Jock Safari Lodge has reopened with the latest refurbishment retaining the timeless style and elegance of a classic safari lodge, paying homage to its rich history and heritage – with the addition of modern comforts and conveniences expected by today’s discerning traveler.
The new ‘Arrival Tent’ is reminiscent of the era of ‘African safaris’ of yesteryear and sets the tone with vintage-style furniture and leather travel trunks. Throughout the lodge traditional tones intertwine with a new colour palette and brighter spaces to combine contemporary design with historical pieces that have pride of place.
After a quick check-in, it’s off for a tour of the private suite overlooking a riverbed and furnished with all imaginable conveniences. Taking guests on a sensory journey that encapsulates history, flora, fauna, conservation, relaxation and fine South African food and wine, Jock Safari Lodge comprises of 12 individual thatched suites, while nearby private camp, Fitzpatrick’s at Jock Safari Lodge caters for small parties and families with 3 luxurious suites.
This secluded thatched suite offers privacy and uninterrupted views of the riverbed and passing by animals. Bedroom interiors have been re-imagined and each revamped suite comes with a private deck and an outdoor Victorian bath with an extensive all-inclusive private bar and coffee area, offering fresh lemon to add that extra special touch to drinks. As part of a more environmentally conscious approach, Jock Safari Lodge personalised refillable aluminum bottles hope to slowly phase out plastic bottles, with filtered cold drinking water available from the lodge. And they make for a great memento!
A little welcome bubbly and bites are a great little snack before dinner.
The new lodge fittings bring a touch of days gone by to the natural surroundings. The Jock Safari Lodge outdoor shower is not to be missed, taking in a sunrise or sunset whilst freshening up before or after a long-day. The private plunge pool on the private deck makes for a great little spot for a quick cool-down during the day, should the air-conditioned rooms not suffice. Clearly there is no need to over-pack for this nature suite retreat – a birthday suit should be more than enough!
Another unique Jock Safari Lodge attraction is the enclosed sala (day bed) for daydreaming or for the extra adventurous (and brave), a sleep-out.
The Jock Safari Lodge communal swimming pool has been heated, and new stairs providing easy access to the river bed for the exclusive Riverbed Dining Experience offered during the warmer months. The Jock Safari Lodge dining area and upstairs bar have been redesigned, and glass sliding doors with extended roofing redesigned to bring the outdoors in.
Jock Safari Lodge is situated at the confluence of the Mitomeni (Shangaan for ‘Jackelberry Tree’) and Biyamiti (Shangaan for ‘Place of many Trees’) rivers, in the south-western corner of the Kruger National Park. Here 6,000 hectares of exclusive traversing rights provide excellent Big Five game viewing, while activities include wilderness walks and visits to rock art sites, bird watching, spa treatments and stargazing, as well as a Kids on Safari programme for children and of-course, daily game drives.
It was time to set off to what was to be one of the most sensational afternoon game-drives yet. Just 500m from Jock Safari Lodge, a curious Leopard cub stops the game drive vehicle in its tracks, and for the next hour, cub and Leopard mother, offer the most fantastic close-up experience, much to the delight of a game ranger and 6-guests – a private viewing unlike any other.
With dark clouds brewing, it’s time to head back to the camp but no-one is left disappointed. Dinner is summoned by traditional African drum beat after an inclusive sundowner at the newly refreshed upstairs bar and a chance to exchange some of the blockbuster viewing of the day with fellow guests. This wouldn’t be the last of some incredible Kruger National Park game viewing over the next two days, which included some of the Big Five, like Lion.
And the not often spotted Hyena, looking after three cubs.
Steeped in history, Jock Safari Lodge was the first private concession granted within South Africa’s largest national park, the Kruger National Park. The lodge was founded in 1982 by the Niven family, descendants of Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, and today, is owned and managed by non-profit conservation organisation, the Caleo Foundation, sister property to Sanbona Wildlife Reserve in the Little Karoo, which extends across 58,000 hectares on the R62, three hours’ drive from Cape Town.
This, along with seasoned rangers, makes for some fantastic game viewing, all blended with a little bit of luck too! Afternoons of exploring the wild backyard of Jock Safari Lodge are met with a drink or two in nature itself, as the ranger pulls over for a leg-stretch, Gin & Tonic and a front-row seat to the Kruger National Park.
The a la carte menu does not disappoint, as the kitchen presents an exquisite array of well balanced dishes, served one night as a private couple dining experience, whilst other nights are enjoyed family style with fellow guests, unpacking the days delectable sightings and a chance to make new friends from all corners of the world.
Breakfast and lunch are equally as delicious as they are generous in portion size, leaving guests wanting more, whilst also not being able to fit in another bite.
Some seafood with a safari view makes for a heavenly lunch, whilst the ever popular french toast for breakfast, with a bushveld twist, makes for a filling start to the day, filled with game drives and the unavoidable afternoon nap, especially for those taking on the early morning drives in the park.
Within the same concession, the private camp, Fitzpatrick’s at Jock is also undergoing an update and re-opened on 1 November 2018 to cater for families and children, and small groups of up to six guests travelling together. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore this getaway option too!
From bushveld to seashells, The Sandton Times heads to the island nation of the Seychelles, to explore the resplendent Banyan Tree Seychelles, an undisputed lead in romance and relaxation, in HONEYMOON DESTINATION: SUN, SEA, SEYCHELLES AND SAFARI [PART 2].