International Namibian guests, Nikita Rix & Jean Venter decided to book a last-minute safari holiday at Saseka Tented Camp after their Maldives vacation was suddenly off the cards. This is her story and her photography about her stay and what a magical time they had.
The best things happen unexpectedly
My husband and I had planned a holiday for my 30th birthday for over a year. Three days before our flight to the Maldives, the new variant hit, and all flights connecting Africa to the rest of the world were suspended.
After recovering from the initial shock, I put my foot down and decided that I would not spend my 30th birthday sulking at home.
Since flights between Namibia and South Africa were operating as per usual with no signs of any changes, we decided that a South African safari was my next destination of choice.
I pulled out our travel bucket list and put my finger on the Kruger National Park. “This is what I want to do”, I told Jeán. “Jemma couldn’t stop raving about this beautiful place in Thornybush. Let’s go there.” (thanks @styledbyjemmawild).
Chartering into a dream landscape
We booked our flights and accommodation all directly with Thornybush, and it really was effortless! (especially after dealing with international flight and travel agencies that week.)
Before we knew it, we were on a flight to Johannesburg. From Johannesburg, we flew with a charter company, Federal Airlines directly into the Thornybush Nature Reserve on their private airstrip. Our flights came to around about the same amount as what a 4×4 SUV rental would have cost for the four days and to be honest I would fly again any day! Although we were told that the drive was very scenic from Johannesburg, being internationals we felt safer using a charter company, so we did.
A short 90 mins later, we arrived in paradise. It was so incredibly green, it literally hurt my eyes! Immediately the Impala lambs came to say hi, and we even saw an elephant on our way to the lodge.
Saseka, which literally means “beautiful”
After a 5 minute drive, we walked into Saseka Tented Camp, and I was shell shocked – I was totally love-drunk! It took me the entire afternoon to come to the realisation of where we were, and how incredible this place was.
The lodge itself is open and spacious and ties in so well with the surroundings. The tented rooms are an absolute dream, each with its own splash pool overlooking the river. Their attention to detail is out of this world!
Their food. It’s a crime and I am now on a serious diet after overindulging in all the deliciousness! Lunch is served tapas-style, dinner is a three-course meal, and breakfast is a feast! My favourite? The pistachio ice cream after lunch! Oh-my-gosh.
The staff was absolutely marvellous! Jimmy, our personal butler, was on his game 24/7! The thought of a drink just came up, and he was already standing ready with it. Our guide, Ross, and tracker, Delta, made sure to give us the best sightings as they worked through the night positioning the animals in exactly the right spots (obviously I’m joking, but they are extraordinarily and I have never felt safer). The spa therapists are very well trained and I was snoring within the first few minutes. All around, the staff, the lodge, the attention to guests details were just spectacular!
You don’t get wildlife like this in Namibia
Let me get started on the sightings!! These animals are such show-offs. We met Saseka the leopard and her son, the gorgeous Monwana pride, a very handsome outsider entertaining us with a game of cat and tortoise and the most adorable impala lambs. There was a crash of white rhinos a super friendly Mr Hippo, a family of elephants who introduced us to their tiny calves, and of course, my favourite ~ some sneaky hyenas – all of this is only three days! The wildlife experience is truly world-class, and something I will never forget. My poor camera. Plus, a G&T has never tasted better as we sipped away at the end of each day looking at the spectacular Kruger sunsets.
Saseka or Maldives? I can’t even answer that question.
We knew when we booked that it was South Africa wet season, but we were blessed with stunning weather. Although we did not expect the Greater Kruger to be so extremely humid and hot, we had lovely afternoon thunderstorms which cooled down the earth. I would definitely recommend visiting as the first rains start, or in the winter when it is a little cooler during the day.
This was such an incredibly special week, and although I don’t want to say it out loud, I am extremely grateful that things worked out as they did, and we were able to have this unforgettable experience.
I recommend Thornybush to anyone and everyone looking for a memorable and luxurious safari experience in South Africa.
Thornybush, we can’t wait to be back for more.
*book your bucketlist safari at Saseka Tented Camp here
Words & Photos by Nikita Rix