If you’ve ever wondered how it would be like to go on a luxury safari then you might want to find out more about my experience at Kings Camp, a luxury safari lodge in the Timbavati, Kruger National Park, South Africa.
I was recently honoured to come and experience this iconic safari lodge in South Africa. I must say that my expectations were rather high as I very well know what luxury safari camps are capable of in this amazing country. Also, the collection “Seasons in Africa” is known in the African luxury industry as one of the most iconic property collections. Having said that, Kings Camp is probably one of the few places that have blown my mind away, literary.
As a luxury lifestyle blogger, I have been visiting stunning iconic venues for many years now and I can definitely tell you that Kings Camps is now in my top 5.
First of all, and without getting too much into the detail, Kings Camp is located in the Timbavati Nature Reserve, in the Kruger National Park area. I decided to tell my readers about my luxury safari experience more in depth as I am very often asked what is it “really” like to go on a safari. If you are a safari connoisseur already, then you might want to skip this part and just check Kings Camp’s accommodation facts below, otherwise keep reading and plunge yourself in a universe of decadence where all of your 6 senses will be spoilt.
What is the Timbavati?
The Timbavati shares an unfenced border with Kruger National Park, the greatest national park for game viewing in South Africa. So you might be thinking that being in the Timbavati is not “the real deal” as you are not technically inside Kruger National Park. Well, yes and no.
A long story short, you get a much better safari experience staying at an unfenced private concession like the Timbavati or the Sabi Sand Reserve than just driving in and out the national park on daily expeditions. These game reserves next to Kruger are unfenced which means that wild animals are free to come back and forth so, basically, they are an extension of the national park and the wildlife is the same than in the national park. But what really makes the Timbavati –and other private concessions such as Sabi Sands- special is the fact that tourists are not allowed to just come and self-drive, therefore you are not likely to see many vehicles driving around, you experience the wilderness at its very best. Also, and this is very important for you to know, inside Kruger national Park you are not allowed to drive off road to approach the animals where in the private concessions the private guides can go through the bush, near a waterhole and anywhere they want to take you to as long as it is safe for both the animal and yourself. Night drives can also be conducted in the private concessions and not in the National Park.
To me, you just can’t compete with this type of safari experience whereby you look for animals with your guide in the wilderness, you don’t just drive up and down hoping to see an elephant far away.
Last but not least, the reason I highly recommend these types of luxury safari accommodation is because they are located right on the game reserve so you get to enjoy the wildlife from your room, the dining area, etc. You are on safari, you breathe safari, you dream safari, and you are on a safari for the whole stay.
Basically, if you stay in a hotel outside Kruger all you would get would be drives in and out the park which to me is not as exciting as hearing and seeing wild animals (from a safe spot) all the time. So now you know why I personally chose to stay in a game reserve next to Kruger to make the most of my luxury safari experience.
But be careful, not all the concessions are as good for game viewing. My tip for you: if you are unsure of where to go on your next safari, you might want to get hold of the safari experts that organised my luxury safari for me. They are very knowledgeable locals who can help you to understand what you are looking for on your safari trip, book everything for you and you even get discounted rates! A special thanks to Stuart, from Africa Uncovered, who advised me since day one and created the perfect tailor made safari experience for me! J
Accommodation at Kings Camp
Even if safaris are becoming more and more popular within luxury seekers and honeymooners, I often get asked how it is to be on safari. If you read my blog you should know by now that I am not a “real fan” of camping (no offence at all) so whenever I mention I am excited to go on a South African safari people seem to be surprised as they think I am going to be sleeping in a basic tent and showering with a cold water bucket. Sure, many people love going on this type of safari adventures and you easily find many companies that specialise in this type of tours but a luxury safari is a very different type of safari experience and it wasn’t until I went on my first safari that I really understood what it was all about.
(Being French) I usually tend not to listen to people but when I was told that my first luxury safari holiday would change my life forever I was forced to confess that they were absolutely right. Zut alors!
From the moment you enter the reception at Kings Camp you leave the real world behind to unlock a world of amazement where every minute, every detail, every sight is magical.
Let’s do it clean and quick so you don’t feel too bad about not being here, at Kings Camp, with me right now: I can see a pristine infinity pool overlooking the wilderness, a few meters away I can see a water hole where wild animals come and drink. The pool is surrounded by green grass, comfortable sun loungers and all this accompanied by the beautiful sounds of the African multi-coloured birds. Oh, yes, and I forgot about your all-inclusive drinks service. So let’s start again.. you are enjoying the beautiful pool, watching the wildlife, listening to the birds with a glass of beautiful local wine in your hand and thinking about all the incredible safari sights that you just saw early that same day.. how does it sound to you?
And that is not all, just wait until you check in to your luxury suite. I have visited a couple of suites during my stay and I can tell you that they are all magnificent and strategically located, without exception. The suites are very large and they are not attached to a main building, instead they look like individual chalets with a thatched roof. All the suites are tastefully decorated in a very elegant colonial style. All the suites have Air-con, outdoors and indoors showers, nespresso machines and tea facilities, king size beds, stunning bathrooms, outside deck etc etc. Expect nothing but the best, the very best. Attention to detail is the norm at Kings Camp from the bed linen to the body lotion and everything in between.
I was very lucky to be able to stay in one of the 2 Honeymoon suites which are slightly larger than the luxury suites but with the same in-room amenities and facilities. The big difference is the outdoors space, the luxury suites have their own private plunge pool, sun loungers and dining table overlooking the wilderness. All things in perspective, this is the most exclusive and opulent suite I have ever stayed in especially if you take in consideration that I saw wildlife whilst having a drink in my own pool yesterday, pretty amazing hey?
The last, but not the least, thing I should mention is the impeccable and personalised service. The word should be none other than perfect (and trust me, I am very critical when it comes to hospitality). The entire staff are very professional yet friendly, they look after you all the time but they are not intrusive so you actually feel like all your wishes are executed without even asking for them and to me, this is why Kings Camp takes luxury to the next level. You can clearly see that management at Kings Camp go beyond excellence thanks to Grant and Hayley that not only welcome guests in a very friendly and well executed way (you feel like royalty on arrival and departure) but they run the place so perfectly that everybody there looks happy and lucky to be and work at Kings Camp.
Big thumbs up to the whole team at Kings Camp, you really understand what makes guests happy and of course deeply sad when leaving. I loved all the little details during my stay at Kings Camp: on arrival you can find a personalised letter in your room welcoming you and also explaining everything you need to know about your stay (safari schedules, introduction of your guide, team, managers, weather reports etc). The staff cleans and tidies up your suite twice a day and you can always expect a little something waiting for you (a warm bath, some chocolates, fresh fruits, a kind letter)
At Kings Camps personalised and attentive service is key and that is what makes this luxury lodge so special and luxurious.
I think I would personally come at stay at Kings Camp for all the obvious reasons I mentioned above but let’s not forget that this is a luxury safari destination and everything here is, in fact, orchestrated around the 2 main safari activities that they call game drives.
So that is how a typical day will be like at Kings Camp:
5am: wake up call
5.15am: Tea & coffee served in the main area
5.30-8am: Morning safari game drive (with a coffee break in the bush)
10.15am: Walking guided safari
12.30pm-2.30pm: Lunch served in the main area (indoors or outdoors)
3.30pm: Drinks and cakes served in the main area
4-7.30pm: Afternoon game drive (including sun downers & snacks in the bush)
8pm: Pre-dinner drinks (around the fire boma, upstairs or downstairs bar)
8.30pm: Dinner in the main area or in a “surprise” location
(PS> all of the mentioned above is included in your room price!!!!)
If you are planning a luxury safari in South Africa, I would highly recommend to book a minimum of 3 nights at Kings Camp to make the most of the bush but also to enjoy the delicious locally sourced cuisine, the amazing accommodation and the oh so out of this world personalized service. You could combine your stay at Kings Camp with another safari in another concession but also with an escape to Cape Town, the Vic Falls and…ideally Mauritius.
If you need some extra tips or some travel advise do not hesitate to contact me or to leave me a comment below