The game reserve
Kapama Private Game Reserve is a benchmark for South Africa safari eco-tourism. Traversing 16 000 hectares, nestled between the Blyde River Valley and Kruger National Park, Kapama is a prestigious wildlife destination for safari enthusiasts and home to the big five. 40 different species of mammals and 350 bird species thrive in their natural habitat. Visitors get the opportunity to observe these magnificent creatures in the wild with twice-daily guided game drives and nature walks.
Four unique created and luxurious bush lodges ensure a diverse choice for guests to Kapama and ensure an unforgettable African wildlife experience. Buffalo Camp delights with its old-world feel, Southern Camp offers warmth and hospitality, River Lodge is festive year-round, and Karula is breathtakingly elegantly. The more adventurous can also choose to spend a night in one of the romantic sleep-outs. Kapama Karula is the flagship, a five-star lodge set on the banks of the perennial Klaserie River.
Kapama is easily accessible by road from Johannesburg in 6 hours (if you take the panorama route, count in at least 8 hours when the weather conditions are bad). When travelling by air, the nearby airports are Hoedspruit Airport (10 minutes’ drive from the reserve entrance) or Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (2 hours’ drive). Kapama offers complimentary transfers to the lodges from Hoedspruit airport and now boasts a private aeroplane and airstrip.
Lodge & Villas
Kapama Karula, meaning “place of peace”, is an ultra-luxurious and prestigious lodge that exudes calmness. Karula has wrap-around views of the African bush enhancing the sense of tranquillity and its light and airy open spaces. The modern whitewashed wood, vast sections of glass and neutral colour palette gives a contemporary African feeling. The lodge has a subtle, almost invisible electrical fence so guests can move safely and unguarded through the property without losing the Bush experience. The open-plan lounge and bar are spacious and cosy. From a wooden deck you can enjoy the breathtaking views. The lodge has a small lobby, a fine dining restaurant, an outside heated pool, a nice gift shop, a library and a modern spa including a fully equipped fitness. Some species of antelopes living on the resorts ground can be observed very close when walking through the property.
The 12 spacious villas designed in 2012 are spread over the area and guarantee privacy and tranquillity to the guests. Some luxury family suites havea second bedroom. Each air-conditioned suite is glass-wrapped and has its own outside deck area, a heated private pool and loungers to relax or enjoy watching the playing monkeys and other wildlife. The enormous villas have expansive open-plan living rooms with a cosy fireplace, an extended and complementary offer of cold drinks, a selection of wines and spirits in the private bar, cookies, fresh fruit and a Nespresso coffee machine.
The bathroom is gorgeous and has a luxury freestanding bathtub just in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows, offering a stunning bathing experience: 2 spacious sinks, a big indoor and outdoor shower and guest amenities of high quality. You even get some samples of Babor. Every detail has been thought of: 2 sprays for insects, umbrella, flashlight, a lock-up safe, fly windows with a lock, art and nature books, international sockets and even nests for bats on the roof to reduce the number of insects. Complimentary wireless Internet access keeps you connected, while iPod docking stations help you enjoy your music in the comfort of your room.
The Villa Suites
When driving from the main entrance to the lodge, you have the chance to see among other things lions, zebras, impalas, giraffes, warthogs. A good warming up for the safari experience. Game drives at Kapama are breath-taking, having the chance to see the big five and rare animals as a pangolin. Game drives are all year around possible. During the African summer you experience endearing moments when observing recently born young animals but as well shocking moments when you see a male lion killing a female buffalo only a few metres away from the car.
The open vehicles seat only 6 guests in order to optimize each guest’s game viewing experience and comfort, affording space for video and photographic equipment, a blanket for each guest and refreshments. Game drives are accompanied by a professional ranger, who drives the car, and an animal tracker sitting in front of the vehicle. The vehicles are safe for safari as wild animals do not associate open vehicles with food and will not see the humans in the car as prey. You don’t often cross another vehicle during a game drive which makes it an amazing experience.
Twice a day, you’ll be taken on a game drive. The morning safari starts at 6 AM, after a light breakfast you leave for a 3 hours game drive to several areas in Kapama spotting jackals biting in the ankles of hyenas, a herd of elephants, lions, crocodiles, a leopard, grazing ‘blou wildebees’, rhinos, buffalos, several species of antelope and birds. Halfway through the game drive, there’s a stop for hot drinks and snacks in the bush. The afternoon drive starts at 4.30 PM and gives the chance to see other animals as genets, clumsy bush babies and a funny ‘verkleurmannetjie’. A stop for a sundowner drink is included while watching the sunset over the peaks of the Drakensberg Mountains and the hippos making noise in the water. You can explore safe bush walks guided by your ranger.
Safari At Kapama
The spa & wellness centre is surrounded by glass. This stunning newly built spa has an intimate connection with the bushveld scenery. The spa with its spectacular design and decor offers a big range of health and beauty treatments in four deluxe treatment rooms. Even for kids there is an offer. Professionals use products from Babor and Dermalogica. When you are tempted by the detox wrap, you start with a welcome drink and briefing and get a scrub. After a shower with your preferred odour shower gel you get wrapped by algae for a deep cleansing, weight loss and general wellbeing. The scalp and food massage make you feel reborn after 60 minutes. The relaxation area boasts a pool with built-in loungers and underwater jets. For something more energetic, you can use the fitness centre. In the African gift shop you’ll find nice souvenirs or presents for the loved ones back home.
After the morning game drive you can enjoy the extended breakfast buffet with fresh products and choose a dish from the menu. You certainly need to try the ranger breakfast. Kapama Karula has a fine dining restaurant with an ‘à la carte’ menu. A 3-course lunch, a 3-course dinner and all (alcoholic) drinks are included in the rate. For wine lovers wanting a special bottle, the lodge has supplementary a range of exclusive wines in their cellar. The dining room with its modern art & lovely fireplace creates the perfect setting for the gastronomic delight that awaits you. A romantic fireside dinner for two can be enjoyed in the library. In the open air “boma”, evening meals are enjoyed seated around a roaring fire where buffet meals and “braai” dishes are served on specific evenings.
Chef Makhi Maki and his team work with fresh local ingredients and combine them with the best products from all over the world. You can enjoy meat of warthog, crocodile and local venison but even enjoy a dessert with fine Belgian chocolate. You recognize his experience in several local classy restaurants and a few international hotels in his dishes. Makhi follows culinary trends and calls his style a freedom kitchen, where all is about the person you cook for. He differentiates the menu which makes every meal at Kapama a discovery. The amount of dishes offered with fresh ingredients each meal, the variety in style in fine dining and the presentation makes it an unforgettable gastronomic delight in the bush.
Chef & Team
Why Go? What makes Kapama Karula so special?
The hospitality and personalized, friendly attention from waiter to lodge manager make you feel at home;The gastronomy, the variety of fresh ingredients and international styles is exceptional in the bush;The stylish, airy and modern design throughout the lodge, the limited number of guests, the spacious villas with high privacy, peace and luxury offered, the glass design of the villa surrounded by nature;The spa & wellness centre, pool and work-out room makes you feel in heaven during the day;The professional & safe guided game drives, the variety of big wild game and the possible big five offer everything you expect from a safari..
All images except for some hotel pictures: Courtesy Kapama Karula
Written by Frank & Veerle