The Kruger is a long way from home. There is the actual distance required to reach South Africa, but then there's the sensual shock of your arrival in such an untouched environment as this is nature's wild realm. No cities, no advertising boards, no flashing neon; rather your eyes are filled with lion pride, elephant tusks, and big herds of buffalo. Singita Boulders is the most contemporary of the lodges on this itinerary and provides an easy introduction into this raw landscape. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow you to watch wildlife from your bed; a private heated plunge pool helps to reenergize after your flight, and the five-star interiors reflect the lodge's membership of the Relais & Chateaux portfolio.
After you touch down at O. R. Tambo International in Johannesburg, you will be assisted as you transfer onto a Federal Air flight to the Sabi Sands reserve. You will be picked up in an open-sided vehicle, and the transfer is also a game drive and your first impression of an African safari. Rhinos watch you pass, springbok skip along the horizon, and there's a herd of elephants scattered around Singita Boulders lodge. On your journey from the airstrip, you could spot the full Big Five. While the landscape is rugged and wild, the lodge is warm and homey, a place to slowly open the senses to the Kruger rhythm. You can see wildlife from your room, and you can always hear it as an atmospheric soundtrack that drifts across the savannah.
Day 2 - 3
Hippos provide the alarm call as their loud grunts set off the bird tweets and monkey chirps. Breakfast comes with a view as giraffe roams along the horizon, the impala at the river and elephants scattered through the bushveld. Time is measured by the sun, not by the clock as the daily safari experience is dictated by the drama of the savannah. Your body will slowly slip into this rhythm and encourage you to appreciate the clues of the environment. Paw prints will lead you towards a leopard that lounges elegantly on a high branch, and circling vultures will guide you towards a carcass that's been feverishly ripped apart by hyenas, as the galloping wildebeest indicate that a predator lurks nearby.
Over these two days, enjoy morning and afternoon game drives with skilled trackers that follow the clues as the guides reveal the wonders of Kruger. Almost all the revered scenes can be found here, another reason why the Sabi Sands makes such an ideal first safari stop. Of course, nothing is predictable, and every game drive is dominated by surprise; lionesses on the move, hippos fighting beside the river, baboons quarreling in the trees. These twice-daily game drives are separated by a leisurely few hours at the lodge with time to relax on your verandah and watch the wildlife procession at the river. Evenings also provide some charm as lanterns illuminate the wooden verandah, and a spotlight reveals what is drinking from the river.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 4 - 5
Dulini offers a quintessential safari experience as an exclusive unfenced reserve filled with the nuances of the wild. The lodge is elegant and stylish with just six spacious suites set in a peaceful riverine grove. Plunge pools and shaded decks provide nonstop safari views, as personal butlers bring meals and drinks into your private retreat. The Dulini culinary experience is one of the finest in Africa as it blends local flavors with French-style creativity. Dine beneath an ancient jackalberry tree and enjoy picnics that overlook a river filled with hippos. Then, like always, the safari program offers an array of choices and is always flexible.
Dulini is reserved for just a handful of guests, so there are not any safari vehicles to ruin your photos, nor any crowding around a revered sight. On a game drive, spot a lion with his mane flowing gracefully on the morning breeze. Wild dogs move in wild packs, their snarling teeth pick apart the remains of a springbok. Between the trees, you can come within a few meters of elephants as their powerful frames rise high above the vehicle. There's a flicker in the grass, and you follow the clues to find a cheetah stealthily stalking its prey. But monkeys have seen the spots, and they start to shout, which sets off a cacophony of yelps. Zebra gallop past, a blur of black and white stripes as impala scamper away, confused, as the herd runs in multiple directions. Minimal guests and minimal vehicles mean the wildlife isn't interrupted, so for these two days you will absorb nature's theater in true high definition.
For the first few days, the safari experience has been about intimacy. As you continue, you will start to appreciate the scale. Rise above the savannah in a hot air balloon as sunrise casts shimmering colors over Kruger. Elephant and buffalo herds are spotted as the balloon drifts across the sky. Serpentine rivers twist beneath the trees to crisscross Kruger and reveal how such huge number of wildlife can be supported. A wild landscape stretches beyond the horizon in every direction with nothing modern to interrupt the scenic panoramas. The aerial experience provides a wonderful bit of context in that as you absorb the scale of the Kruger landscape, all of your previous wildlife encounters are seen in a new light. You will realize that the lion prides you have spotted are just a handful among hundreds. You will delight in the recognition that there is always more wildlife to find when the landscape stretches so far. After your hot air balloon flight, return to the lodge before an afternoon game drive through Dulini's private realm.
Perhaps this will be the afternoon that you see a pride out hunting. The lionesses creep slowly and fan out to pick upon a prearranged target. They wait, and you wait. The zebra seem scared, but they don't run, until three lions charge from their hiding place. Zebras can outrun lions, but they run straight into the pride's ambush. Again it occurs in an instant; nobody (definitely not the zebra), had spotted the two females waiting on the other side of the trees. Now the pride unites, the lionesses skillfully finish off the kill for the big male to take his first choice of the meat. From the safari vehicle, you watch the social structure unfold and admire how the pride arranges itself. The big male is protective and roars away the younger males to protect its dominance. And while the lionesses did the work, they must wait before their teeth are stained red by the zebra's carcass.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6 - 7
With this safari itinerary, you gradually get closer and closer as each stop elevates the immersion in the Kruger ecosystem. At Londolozi, you are literally sleeping in nature. The five-star suites are raised on stilts within iconic jackalberry and leadwood trees that overlook the Sands River. They are connected to the main lodge by lantern-lit walkways, and everything is designed to merge with its environment. No television, no internet, just a remarkable intimacy with the bush. Like the Sabi Sands and Dulini, Londolozi is a private reserve that shares an unfenced border with Kruger National Park. It's an integral piece of the Kruger ecosystem as the Sand River attracts astonishing numbers of the Big Five and much more.
Morning game drives continue your safari adventure as the cooler time of day is when the landscape is at its most active and the drama is magnified. Park on the bushveld and wait, and soon two rhinos emerge to roam elegantly past the vehicle. Next, comes a tower of giraffe, spotted easily from afar but filled with intriguing detail when seen up close. Then a buffalo herd as the bachelor’s snort and grunt as they pass. Hyenas run after a wildebeest herd while a picnic site provides a prime encounter with the hippos. This is another reserve where you don't count lions spotted, but you count the pride and a place where you remember elephants by the size of the herd.
The afternoons bring a fresh intimacy as the guides and trackers take you on a walking safari. Now you are avoiding the big cats to focus instead on all the ungulates. You are now small and silent so that the wildlife won't run away. Zebra are always beautiful, but especially so when you've stood just a few meters from them. From the ground, you can appreciate the size of these mammals, particularly the buffalo, eland, and hartebeest. Exhilarating and exclusive, these walking safaris showcase that this landscape is not only wild but also that its inhabitants are far bigger than man. Skilled local trackers have been traversing these lands for generations, and they ensure that you are safe, alongside an armed ranger for an extra layer of security.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 8 - 9
Follow the Sands River out of Londolozi and into Mala Mala, where you will spend the final two nights in one of Africa's oldest safari lodges. It was built before everything else, so it enjoys the ultimate location perched above the river for glorious views of wildlife as they come to drink. While the Kruger ecosystem stretches for tens of thousands of square miles, everything must stay within reach of water, and it's the permanent rivers like the Sands where the big game concentration is at its highest. Mala Mala is also the largest of Kruger's private reserves; it's actually one of the biggest in the whole of Africa. So the intimacy is complemented by scale as guides can drive off the road, so you always have the best view, while the lodge's longevity helps to provide trackers with a remarkable understanding of where to find which animals.
The safari program is flexible to combine game drives with walking safaris, as by now you will know which you enjoy the most. Rhinos surround the river, their horns a symbol of defiance and beauty. Giraffe rise above the jackalberry trees and when you approach you will find youngsters and babies with faded color. A young elephant scampers along, the trunk swings wildly amidst the grass to chase a warthog, then tests its new-found power by chasing a troop of baboons. Wildebeest gallop with a frenzied enthusiasm and buck like wild bulls as they seek to impress the females. Watch also for the elegant favorites, like the zebra, impala, springbok, and kudu.
But the greatest part of Mala Mala, and the reason that it is such a revered final safari stop, is the bounty of big cats. In particular, leopard and cheetah are regularly spotted here; the often elusive predators can be found in menacing hunting mode. Their spots grace the grass, their necks dip into hiding, and sometimes they lie just a few meters from the safari vehicle. Park beside the river and watch it unfold as the leopard disappears, its stealth moves con everyone and everything. You watch, but the spots are hidden, but then a yelp, a strangled cry and a flicker of dust. Your eyes are alerted, and then you see the cheetah’s jaw locked around the neck of an impala, and the hunt played out in an instant.
At Mala Mala, you can also stay out after dark when the savannah is laced with an eery atmosphere. Stars glimmer ahead as your powerful spotlight roams across the bush. Buffalos graze, elephant bulls bash against trees, and the animals of the night emerge. Jackals, caracals, meerkats about as nighttime brings a chance to find those that hide throughout the day. You can get very close to everything as the wildlife doesn't see you coming, and nor does it see where you are parked. So when the engine is killed, the greats of the safari landscape walk straight towards you. After the drive, enjoy a candlelit dinner on your deck that overlooks the river and complete your experience in this pristine and surreal environment.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Mala Mala's airstrip provides an easy getaway from this remote and rugged world. After a final morning game drive, you are dropped at the runway and can see both wildlife and aircraft all in the same view. A direct flight will take you to O. R. Tambo International for your international departure where you will be assisted in transferring to the international terminal.
The Kruger provides one of Africa's oldest and most luxurious safari adventures. Draped across the northeast of South Africa, this ancient landscape is revered for both its abundance and diversity. It's way beyond the Big Five. Over half of the world's wild rhinos are found here, their horns as expressive as the tusks of huge elephant herds. Dozens of ungulates find their haven to congregate around the rivers and provide a feast for the big cats; there are very few places that can rival the Kruger for raw hunting scenes and close-quarters predator action. While safari activities reveal it all, the experience is always encompassing. You will see wildlife from your camp verandah as you hear the fabled roars through the night, and always be surrounded by the four-legged giants of Africa.
Kruger is one of Africa's oldest and largest protected lands, gazetted as a wildlife reserve in the late 19th-century. This history and commitment to conservation have ensured that life always rolls to nature's rhythm. It has also helped to form Africa's most sophisticated safari tourism industry. Camps and lodges are carefully spaced, often located in their own unfenced private reserves to ensure a unique exclusivity for visitors. They offer an unrivaled opulence and contemporary safari chic; each lodge decked out with wonderful grandeur, yet they also merge effortlessly with their surroundings. Imagine watching rhinos from a lavish bar lounge, and then waking to elephants that drink from your plunge pool, as you experience buffalo encounters from the luxurious tree houses.
This handcrafted itinerary celebrates the very best of Kruger's accommodation and safari experiences. Over your 10-day itinerary, visit four private reserves, each chosen for the quality of the lodge and intimacy with wildlife. These are lavish five-star affairs, regularly heralded as being amongst the world's finest hotels. Except they are not really hotels, they are boutique lodges reserved for just a small handful of guests. While the wildlife drama unfolds on the savannah, these lodges also provide a sumptuous air of tranquility to provide an escapist experience that helps you connect with both nature and yourself.
You will follow an iconic safari program, with at least two activities every day. On many days, this will include both morning and afternoon game drives. But there are also a hot air balloon rides, bush walks, and nighttime drives for your enjoyment. At each lodge, the program is flexible, so you always create your own program. With their permanent water and varied landscape, these reserves offer some of the world's most profuse natural realms; there really is far too much wildlife than it is possible to remember or count. Guides can take you off road to elevate the intimacy and reduce the proximity as you are fully submerged in the wild realm to enjoy it all at Africa's finest lodges.
$7995 per person (excluding international flights)
Tell us all about your
We match you with top
travel agents who
compete for your trip.
Book only once your
itinerary is refined to
Are you a Top Travel Specialist?