In a remote wildlife reserve, far from the madding crowds on the very outskirts of Kruger National Park, lies an African Garden of Eden. A peaceful lush place that exudes the charm of Old Africa, where silence is revered and it’s easy to lose yourself in the bush experience. An arcadia that’s known for the high-density of its big game animals and its superior safari experiences as vast herds of buffalo, elephant and antelope roam free.
Here at the exclusive Kapama Private Game Reserve in the shadow of the Drakensberg Mountain range, luxe camps and nature-inspired lodges provide safari-goers with the luxury of choice, from a romantic star-bed under the sky to prestigious private suites.
The reserve itself stretches over 13,000 hectares of savannah and riverine forest and daily bush walks amongst tamboti and marula trees turn up surprising encounters with furry and feathered critters. Safari days blend into a heady circle of lilac sunrises, vermillion sunsets and unparalleled animal spotting – with the iconic wild animals of Africa, the Big Five, more than 40 mammal species and more than 350 different types of birds all within arm’s length.
There are surprises at every track and turn.
In the early mornings, wake to a chorus of birdsong and have the option to soar with eagles aboard a hot air balloon over the Lowveld section of the Blyde River, farmlands and game reserves. Or, come eyeball-to-giant-eyeball with African elephants and the grooms that love and care for them on the reserve. It’s these immersive add-on activities that give a unique perspective to the overall safari experience.
Downtime at Kapama is an equally decadent affair. You can opt to sleep under open skies atop a four-poster bed mounted on a viewing platform in the wild, where a private chef sets the scene for a seduction under the stars. Even a swim in the main pool can turn into a wild affair when giraffes graze mere feet away and elephants wander by for a closer look. Spa time is taken to a new level with the help of traditional massage rituals and exotically-spiced treatments.
After four, soul-stirring days, it’s hard to leave paradise, so we’ve made it a little easier by including a journey, along one of South Africa’s most panoramic of driving routes to the Blyde River Canyon, as a fitting farewell to this part of the world. On your last day in Eden, you’ll visit God’s Window - perched so high above the sub-tropical tree-lined ravines that you can almost touch the clouds; and the famous Bourke’s Luck Potholes that have been sculptured by wild water over centuries.
This connection with nature, once made, is hard to break and when you leave this patch of African paradise, you’re guaranteed to take a lifetime of memories (and a memory card full of photos) with you.
Make sure your camera’s fully charged… the Panorama Route will take your breath away.
Enjoy a touch of English luxe on a Kapama sunset safari.
Take a walk on the wild side with a Kapama Ranger.
Savour an alfresco feast for the senses at a lantern-lit boma dinner.
Experience a million-star overnight experience out in the open.
Indulge in some spa time in the heart of the African bush.
Float through colourful dawn skies in a hot air balloon.
Get an early start on a sunrise 4x4 safari.
Meet African Elephants on an intimate Elephant Experience.
On the outskirts of Hoedspruit, in the far east of South Africa's stunning Limpopo Province, you’ll find the Hoedspruit Airport – your gateway to the heartland of private game reserves, the world-famous Kruger National Park, and the bustling towns of Phalaborwa and Tzaneen. This remote spot was once earmarked as a NASA shuttle-landing site and is the first port of call on your Four Day Kapama Safari.
On arrival, you’ll be met by a friendly porter who’ll effortlessly organise luggage and whisk you off on a short thirty-minute drive to your home away from home for the next three nights, Kapama Private Game Reserve. A stay at Kapama offers the luxury of choice and you can choose from the Kapama River Lodge, Kapama Southern Camp or the opulence of Kapama Karula.
In true African luxurious safari style, Kapama also offers you different dining venues and lunch is a casual, scrumptious affair. Today, you’ll have the luxury of time to relax into resort living, and to discover the lay of the land and the skills of the lodge chefs. You also don’t have to venture far to encounter locals – nyala, antelope and vervet monkeys - before slipping into the rhythm of safari life.
Kapama runs two daily game drives – one early morning and the other at sunset to take full advantage of the wildlife-rich reserve and spot the wild icons of Africa. In the skies, more than 350 species of birds have been spotted and recorded and birdwatchers flock seasonally to view this spectacle.
The afternoon drive is full of surprises as you gather for a decadent English-style high tea before heading out in search of Africa’s Big Five and other furry and feathered iconic animals. Enroute, you’ll stop for a sundowner drink as you watch the sun set over the distant blue peaks of the Drakensberg mountains. In this part of the country, the show really heats up as darkness falls and Kapama’s skilled trackers use every ounce of their skill to spot the animals in the undergrowth – the rarely seen aardvark, lionesses with young, the slow blink of an eagle-owl or the distinctive pelt of a small-spotted genet amongst the dead wood.
Before you know it, you’ll be back in your encampment sipping on exclusive reserve vintages and enjoying the roar of the fire at your camp’s boma or restaurant. As in classic Old Africa, evening meal delicacies may feature chakalaka relish, local game - kudu casserole or venison curry with exotic spices, and a canopy of stars for company.
Overnight accommodation included according to your selected stay package. Subject to availability.
Safari life, by its very nature, means early morning starts and early finishes… you can’t help but be charmed by the rising sun’s ability to paint a rustic technicolour palette over the South African Lowveld. More than 350 bird species, more than 40 mammal species and 110 reptile species call this land home and a bush walk on foot with the expert safari guide is like being on a Discovery channel documentary.
Every attention is paid to safety as big cats could be up and about after a night of hunting and other big game – elephant, rhinoceros and Cape buffalo – tend to rise with the early birds. As the walk progresses, other creatures begin to stir and colourful birds take flight as your guides teach you the intricacies of animal tracking by footprints and by dung. The morning is also a study in bush medicine as innocuous-looking barks and leaves transform, with a little African alchemy, into toothpastes and cure-alls.
Walking can work up a hunger, even with the rusks and obligatory coffee and tea kick-start so it's back to the Lodge for a leisurely breakfast that drips with fresh seasonal ingredients and earthy herbs picked from the kitchen gardens.
As the day lengthens, it’s yours to enjoy at will. Explore the lodge surrounds; take a dip in the main pool under the shade of thatched roofs - a spot where elephants come to people watch; relax with an optional spa treatment that turns indigenous herbs and spices into luxe beauty treatments; or opt for a closer wildlife encounter. Kapama’s intimate hand-reared elephant experience – an optional activity on your tour – shows the sensitivity you’ve come to expect from a lodge that sits lightly on the land, observing these animals in their natural environment while living a life the way they would have in the wild.
This isn’t a circus show, there are no tricks or dances. Instead, guests meet and mingle with the herd and learn about the special bond that exists between beast and groom. This is a chance for a close-encounter that allows you to observe first hand the personalities of the elephants and the strength and grace of the fourteen-strong herd. You’ll meet and engage with the giant and gentle Jabulani and with Mambo, a young bull elephant that’s full of character. Kapama’s elephant encounters promise a very personal and highly immersive interaction, where man and elephant meet one another on equal terms.
After the morning’s activities, a little rest time and a lazy lunch, you’ll be whisked off on a sunset safari for yet another chance to see the big cats on the reserve. Each day is different and you just may witness the thrill of a chase or the beauty of baby elephants at play.
At Kapama, the safari, animals and scenery are the heroes, but the food and wine experiences on offer give them a run for their money. Kapama River Lodge alone boasts a well-stocked cellar with more than 600 varietals in a temperature-controlled and humidified room. With the exception of French champagne, all the wines and sparkling Méthode Cap Classiques are from choice South African vineyards and are expertly matched with real African dishes like warthog stew and kudu casserole. Mealie pap (African-style polenta) and chakalaka (a hot, spicy relish) further enhance the traditional dining experience for those with a taste for adventure.
The adventure doesn’t have to end as night falls. Why not book the romantic sleep-out for a chance to be seduced by the stars with a decadent sleeping experience under Africa’s big skies? It’s luxe to the max, perfectly safe and a once-in-a-lifetime experience to reconnect with the vast, uninterrupted expanse of wild nature.
Overnight accommodation included according to your selected stay package. Subject to availability.
It's so easy to hit ‘snooze’ and relax back into your cocoon of Egyptian cotton sheets... but an exhilarating hot air balloon optional activity will entice even the sleepiest head away from their bed to float over the ultra-scenic Blyde Valley and game reserves' grounds.
There’s no getting around the early start… it’s the key ingredient in making the day super special and in catching the kaleidoscope of dawn colours. Hot coffee and tea ease the transition from dozing to waking and, after a slight scramble over the 1.2m high basket rim, you’re off soaring above the Lowveld landscapes of the the Blyde River as the sun’s rays kiss the top of the distant Drakensberg mountains. As with all nature experiences, wildlife sightings aren’t guaranteed and weather sets the general direction of flight, but pilots have binoculars at the ready in case wildebeest or lone giraffes lope over the land below.
Touchdown is a bumpy experience, but the adrenaline is well and truly flowing by the time you’re back on terra firma. A quick transfer back to the lodge and the day is yours to explore. A mini gym, with all the equipment mod-cons is available to work off any excess energy and the call of the main pool – with its close proximity to a popular wildlife watering hole – is almost too hard to resist. Others may choose to slip away to the sanctuary of the Kapama Spa for a little pampering with a wide variety of optional treatments.
Eat, safari, spa, safari, sleep and repeat.
Kapama’s kitchens showcase pan-African dishes – including local venison – prepared from fresh local ingredients that exude the fullest of flavours. An optional private dinner can also be arranged with lantern-lit tables set in the dry riverbed in front of the lodge - it epitomises the very essence of romance and adds a touch of enchantment to your African luxury safari experience. Or, if you’re feeling social, you can congregate in the boma and share tales of your day with other travellers.
Overnight accommodation included according to your selected stay package. Subject to availability.
As the sun peeks its head over a sleepy horizon, it’s time to rise and enjoy one last game drive in this Garden of Eden. One final chance to tick off your bingo sheet of animal encounters and peer through the underbrush looking for Africa’s most elusive animals. It’s a bittersweet time. Over four short days, the rangers and trackers have become like family and it's sad to bid adieu at safari’s end. Today, we encourage you to switch-off, lay your cameras and smart phones on your lap and just enjoy the safari experience for what it is. You won’t be disappointed! And, after a sumptuous breakfast and a round of goodbyes, you’ll be transferred by your private driver-guide out on the day’s adventure.
Did somebody say road trip?
Today is really about transitioning from the safari oasis you’ve called home for the last few days towards some of the most scenic jewels in South Africa’s stable. You’ll join a well-travelled 300km-long lush route that has been describing by writers as ‘the most beautiful place in the world’ – the Panorama Route and the ultra-scenic Blyde River Canyon - it even rivals Table Mountain in terms of outlook and beauty.
The most popular stretch of the route is the R532 that winds its way towards the unspeakably gorgeous God's Window, the Blyde River Canyon, Bourke's Luck Potholes and The Three Rondawels – your destination for today. There simply aren’t enough superlatives in the dictionary to describe the scenes that await.
Mpumalanga’s Blyde River Canyon – one of the largest in the world – cuts a green and rusty swathe through the surrounding countryside. Mighty waterfalls plunge into sub-tropical, tree-lined gorges. And at the heart lies God’s Window, a 360-degree panoramic view of Mother Nature’s finest canyon vista. Intermittent mountain mist adds to the drama.
By sharp contrast, the swirling meeting point of the Treur and Blyde Rivers has resulted in a lunar landscape of coloured potholes and inter-connected rock pools in the bedrock below the river’s surface. These ancient geological formations, known as Bourke’s Luck Potholes, are striking in their simplicity. Metal bridges criss-cross the river and offer bird’s eye views to the swirling eddies below.
Then, as another day turns to afternoon, you’ll make your way to the Nelspruit Airport with plenty of time to complete the airport formalities before your evening flight back to the bright city lights and civilisation.
End the tour with a transfer and drop-off included at Nelspruit Airport.
This trip will run exclusively for you.
Led by a local English-speaking professional tour guide.
Airport transfers from Hoedspruit Airport to Lodge and vice versa are included.
3 nights accommodation according to your Ways 2 Stay package.
All meals are included.
Optional activities can be paid and booked during your journey.
You are responsible for your own personal travel insurance.
Local and international flights are excluded.
Since the beginning, working as a guesthouse manager 13-years ago, I have been involved in creating personalised experiences for people in the travel industry. It has grown into my work passion and I love being able to create tailor-made experiences for people that they will remember for the rest of their lives. In between doing that, I create my own memories and experiences by spending time with my family (usually on the beach), attending festivals and capturing it all with my camera.
Click terms for more details.
11 official Languages Spoken
Afrikaans – English – isiNdebele – Sepedi.– Sesotho – Siswati – Xitsonga – Setswana – Tshivenda – isiXhosa
How to say hello?
Molo – Xhosa
Sawubona - Zulu
Hallo - Afrikaans
Dumela - SeSotho
Electricity – Volt & plug
The South African electricity supply is 220/230 volts AC 50 HZ. Most plugs are 15 amp 3-prong or 5 amp 2-prong, with round pins.
WiFi/Internet Access on tour
WiFi can be found at most accommodations, restaurants and airports, however, the download speed is often slow and many connections limit your data usage. In short, you’ll be able to stay connected with home, but don't expect to watch HD movies in your spare time.
When to go
South Africa is blessed with a mostly mild climate, but different areas will yield different temperatures throughout the year. Summer in South Africa is usually peak season, lasting between November – February, however Easter time (March) is often still considered peak season too. Temperatures range from 25ºC in coastal areas to high 30ºs in inland areas. Cape Town has ideal weather during this time and Durban sports warm beaches and humid air, Johannesburg experiences hot clear days and often an afternoon thunderstorm.
Shoulder season is April and May, as well as September and October. Surprisingly, the weather in Durban is often at its best during this time, and other areas simmer down from their scorching highs. Prices are lower and crowds are smaller. September and October see eruptions of flowers and blooms all around the country.
Winter is beautiful in most parts of the country. Cape Town experiences winter rain and is often a little cold and miserable, but still crisp and beautiful. Because of the warm Indian Ocean, Durban has spectacular weather in winter, often hovering around 20-25ºC with clear blue skies. Inland areas get quite chilly and the odd snowfall is not uncommon (it only lasts for a day though!). Prices are at an all time low and it is an ideal time for game viewing, as the animals are more active in the cooler weather.
Best time to go
Jun-Jul = Safari
Jan-Feb = Beach
With the possible exception of Christmas Day and New Year's Day, most tourist services and attractions are open on South African public holidays. In addition most city shopping centres, restaurants and entertainment venues remain open.
|1 Jan||New Year's Day|
|21 Mar||Human Rights Day|
|30 Mar||Good Friday|
|2 Apr||Family Day|
|27 Apr||Freedom Day|
|1 May||Workers' Day|
|16 Jun||Youth Day|
|9 Aug||National Women's Day|
|24 Sep||Heritage Day|
|16 Dec||Day of Reconciliation|
|17 Dec||Day of Reconciliation Holiday|
|25 Dec||Christmas Day|
|26 Dec||Day of Goodwill|
Visa & Travel docs
Travellers from most Commonwealth countries (excluding New Zealand), most Western European nations, Japan and the USA receive a free, 90-day visitor's permit on arrival. These travellers do not need a visa to enter South Africa. A valid passport is essential with at least two empty pages. You generally will need to show return or onward travel arrangements. Children aged under 18 must show an unabridged birth certificate (showing both parents details).
Some countries do, however, need a visa. Visas are not issued upon entry, they must be attained beforehand. It is advised that you clarify this before you leave, the Department of Home Affairs office has a comprehensive list of countries that do not require visas. http://www.dha.gov.za/index.php/immigration-services/exempt-countries
What to pack
We're generally laid back in South Africa, so no need to haul out your best silks and diamonds when you head to our shores. Here's some clothing advice when in South Africa:
Health & Safety
There are no compulsory vaccinations required to enter South Africa with exception of a yellow fever vaccination if you have been in a yellow fever area within the last 12 months.
The only major health risk you might face in South Africa is malaria, which is confined to small areas in the north-eastern parts of the country. Small pockets of the northern parts of the Kruger National Park fall under this area but the risk here is considered extremely low and it is not always necessary to take anti-malaria tablets. Remember as a precautionary measure to check with your accommodation what is recommended.
South Africa may have high crime statistics, but if you conduct yourself wisely, most tourists enjoy the country without any incident at all. Ensure that you lock away your passports and travel documents in a safe, which is usually provided by your accommodation. Don't flash around valuables and keep an eye on your belongings at all time. Majority of South Africa’s crime is opportunistic petty crime, so if you are vigilant about your belongings you should not have any problem.
South Africa has 3 world-class airports that receive international flights every day; Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. Most international airlines will have flights into one or all of these airports daily.
There are numerous budget carriers that offer domestic flights between the major cities for very reasonable rates; this is the fastest and safest way to span large distances, especially between Johannesburg and Cape Town, which is a 2-hour flight.
From the airports there are numerous shuttles and taxis that you can pick up upon arrival, there are also many different car hire options at each airport and in all major cities. Uber is another reliable and affordable option.
Our currency in South Africa is the South African Rand. You can easily convert your currency to rand at a bank or Forex Bureau, the airports and larger towns often have many different Forex options. You can also withdraw from an ATM, banks are available throughout South Africa. Be sure to check what international bank charges you will incur for withdrawals before you arrive. Major credit cards are usually accepted in hotels or restaurants, however, there may be a surcharge. It is advisable to have small amounts of cash for curios and tipping.