Jock Safari Lodge is the very first privately owned and operated concession in South Africa’s Krueger National Park (KNP). Located at the junction of the Mitomeni and Biyamiti rivers at the southern tip of KNP, Jock Safari Lodge is situated on 6,000 hectares (nearly 15,000 acres) in the pristine region of Bushveld, regarded as the best Big Five game viewing area in the park. Even better, it was built to the most stringent eco-management criteria in South Africa and is actively involved with numerous conservation and research projects regarding rare and endangered species.
From the moment we arrived, greeted with a welcome drink and cold towels, to the last game drive, we did not want our stay to end or to say goodbye to the amazing wildlife that we experienced.
The lodge has only 12 secluded thatched suites, giving guests lots of privacy. Each one has its own plunge pool, outdoor shower and lookout terrace, with outdoor sunbed and a gorgeous view of the riverbed. The rooms are spacious and very tastefully furnished in earthy shades. They fit three people comfortably; there are two connecting suites for bigger families. My daughter loved the little welcome gift left for her on her bed, and she was thoroughly entertained watching the monkeys on the veranda in the mornings and the evenings.
The suites do not have TV or Internet service in order to allow guests to forget about the outside world, but WIFI is available in the lounge of the main lodge.
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Food, included in the rate, is delicious and so plentiful you might actually wish to go for a daily run with a cheetah. Meals are served in the lodge (inside or out) with views of the pool and the breathtaking wildlife stopping by for a visit. Lunch with an elephant herd casually strolling by keeps any child entertained.
Breakfast and lunch are served buffet-style, while dinner is mainly a la carte from a three-course menu with several choices. There is also the option every few days of a Boma dinner. This is a special treat: a full meal prepared on an open fire with local game grilled to perfection using the special African spices you will come to love and purchase in large quantities to impress your friends back home. Keep in mind that this is a longer dining experience, so start early and enjoy the special atmosphere of dinner under the African stars.
The main draw is the game drives to see the African wildlife. Professional rangers will take your family out in covered Land Cruisers at dawn and dusk when the animals are most active, allowing you to avoid the heat of the day. The lodge has exclusive riverbed traversing rights, and off-road driving on the concession is also permitted for predator sightings.
The 3-hour-long game drives stop for breaks where you are allowed to leave the car and stretch your legs. Our morning drive included a coffee break with homemade cookies and a cup of tea for my 6-year-old. The rangers will usually choose a vantage point for the dusk drive break that allows you to appreciate the breathtaking views of the KNP sunsets while you enjoy a nibble and a drink of your choice.
Wilderness walks are available after the morning game drives and breakfast. We adults took turns, since children under 16 are not allowed to participate. People say that there is nothing like the thrill of approaching wild animals on foot, but I have to say the thrill of trying to sneak away unnoticed from an elephant mom with two calves is even bigger.
Children under 6 years may participate in the game drive conducted within the Jock Safari Lodge Concession. Children from 6 years on are permitted on game drives in KNP.
At the main lodge you will find a swimming pool and a bar. The resort’s spa, Pilgrims Rest Retreat, is in its own building with an exercise room and sauna located close to the main lodge, though with all the other fun activities we did not have time to try a treatment. Guests can also play the course at Leopard Creek Golf Club nearby; transfers are complimentary.
Jock Safari Lodge is easily accessible by road — it took us just 4 1/2 hours from the Johannesburg airport. You can also arrange a transfer from the Skukuza Airstrip in KNP, which is only an hour away.
Editor’s Note: Photos by Nicole Schick.
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