Experience Amazing with Lexus
SABI SABI: The Selati Camp
By Rubin van Niekerk & Alan Samons
It had been a while since we’d ‘done the bush’ and we jumped at the chance to visit one of our favourite lodges. Selati Camp is located in the Sabi Sabi conservancy adjacent the Kruger National Park. Having recently undergone extensive refurbishments, we couldn’t wait to see the lodge after so many years again.
Our favourite drive from Johannesburg is the road to the Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve just outside Hazyview. “Road” is a misnomer, as several possible routes leap into this complex equation that filters scenery, trucks, roadworks and potholes. The most scenic option after heading east out of Johannesburg, past some off-ramps to places with unpronounceable names, is to go via Dullstroom where numerous eateries beckon. The Belfast section is bad but over in a blink. We were in the new Lexus NX 300 F-Sport and we were desperately looking for a challenge.
Four-wheel drive and a commanding seating position bolstered our confidence and tantalising twisties revealed the F-Sport’s grip, while outmanoeuvring the odd pothole on the Schoemanskloof road. Soon enough we headed along a dirt road towards Sabi Sabi, but eventually realised most cars would have gotten stuck by then, so it had to be the wrong road!
We thoroughly enjoyed getting slightly lost just outside the reserve with plenty of ground clearance and a feisty 2,0-litre turbocharged engine which assured effortless gliding over dirt roads that were not aimed at optimistic self-drive tourists. A remarkably easy U-turn returned us to a much tamer section of dirt road. Once in the park we soon missed the cocooning comfort of our highly specced flagship model packed with standard features. Temperatures were already over 35°C, which was hard to believe from within the well-chilled cabin where the superb air-conditioning quietly continued to lull us into a comfort zone.
We were pleasantly surprised when, on arrival, we were greeted by Terry Ennever, a ranger we’d met a few years ago at Earth Lodge. We were delighted to hear he’d be taking us out on game drives. Terry has a delicious sense of humour and an infectious passion for the bush. This was going to be a great weekend.
Small and intimate, the romantic lodge only has eight suites and isn’t fenced, so apart from the odd ellie or rhino possibly showing up, bushbuck and other antelope browse silently around the suites and gaze doe-eyed at passers-by. The crown jewel is the presidential suite, aptly named the Ivory Suite, a spacious and elegantly appointed thatched abode comprising a large lounge and bedroom, enormous bathroom, covered verandah with bush view and a pool and outdoor shower and claw-footed bath. The pool area is fenced, as ellies seem to love chlorinated water, something we experienced on our first visit to Selati.
Selati Camp is geared to creature comfort and the colonial style reflects the history of the Selati Railway Line that once ran through the property. Old railway memorabilia add to the rustic charm. The main lodge where meals are served, as well as the pool overlook the seasonal Sand River and a waterhole that is a perennial favourite with game of all sizes. While sitting at breakfast, or lunch, there is always some action at the waterhole and we were lucky to have elephant, rhino, buffalo and other game stopping by for a drink. When all goes quiet and no animals appear, chances are good that there is a predator around, like the local leopard who has been spotted sunning herself on the stairs to our suite.
With the mercury hitting the mid-thirties, we thought most animals would be in hiding, but we still had some exciting sightings during game drives. We followed a pride of eleven lions, who had just woken up from their daytime nap, to a nearby waterhole where a rhino bull had been wallowing to cool off. As they left the waterhole the pride happened upon the rhino and decided to try their luck in taking him down. Lots of snorting and growling ensued, but luckily they were unsuccessful and the massive beast lived to fight another day.
Sabi Sabi is leopard country and we are always treated to splendid sightings of this magnificent creature. A beautiful young female gave us quite a show. It was as though she knew she was being photographed and she pulled out her best modelling moves. We watched her stalk a leguaan, but the creature’s hissing seemed to put her off. Just then, as she was deciding what to do with it, a pair of hyena loped into view. Like greased lightning she sped up a tree and languorously draped herself along a branch, providing us with more photo ops. The scavengers trotted off into the dusk and she resumed her search for an evening meal.
Terry and our tracker, Sydney, did a super job of locating animals and explaining their habits and idiosyncrasies while we enjoyed being in their presence.
Food, glorious food… It always amazes us how well one is fed in the bush. From venison, to fish, and special meals for vegans and vegetarians, the chefs create magic in their kitchen. Bearing in mind there is no such thing as nipping out to get some ingredient or other, their planning and skill is worth high praise indeed.
It was so good to return to Selati Lodge to recharge our batteries and reconnect with Mother Earth and her creatures. We hope you will pay this gorgeous place a visit too.