There is something other-worldly about driving in through the gates of the Kruger National Park. Pre-historic looking giraffe glide past in the bushveld and armour-plated rhinos graze, defensively protecting their baby rhinos. A furtive hyena pauses to sniff the air then slinks off and disappears into the scrub, leaving you wondering if you imagined seeing it.
One cannot help marvelling in wide-eyed wonder at the privilege of entering such a vast expanse of pristine natural land. Larger than some countries, it is an extraordinary space set aside for ordinary people like us to enjoy while the wild natural world continues its interaction unchanged by the decades.
And what better way to commune with this wild nature than in tented accommodation, set up alongside an ancient tree, safely raised on wooden platforms overlooking wide African plains. These eco-friendly tented stays are one of the best ways of appreciating the wonder of being in such an unspoilt, wild environment.
Following an 1880’s Africa explorer theme, Plains Tented Camp is everything a luxury safari accommodation establishment should be. Romantic tented suites are spaced apart in an Acacia Knobthorn thicket and overlook the Timbitene plain and waterhole. Set in a private concession right within the central, Big 5 game-rich area of the Kruger National Park near Skukuza and Satara, visitors have access to exclusive roads as well as their own game viewing deck. The tents embrace the safari theme, with khaki-green canvas walls, oil lamps, a colonial style writing desk, old trunks and glossy wooden floors. White linen on soft beds elevate the stay to a luxurious experience. Luxury aside, I am impressed to learn that no trees were cut in the making of the tents and no concrete was used in their construction.
I arrive dressed for my part in this African safari, with an oversized hat, three-quarter length linen pants and carrying an old leather duffle bag and my camera as rifle. We drink gin and tonic as we watch the sun set. All safari pretence and image soon falls away as some elephants come down to the water hole to drink, and we marvel at their free existence and very real size. It sinks in that we are really here. We feel instantly protective over the animals and greatly privileged to be in such close contact with the wild. On a quintessential safari experience, one can embrace the Kruger National Park slogan “Custodians of Nature”, engaging in the natural world as explorers have done for hundreds of years before.
A review by Characterstay blogger: www.characterstay.blogspot.com