My son and I spent 3 weeks in South Africa in October 2009. We have been before and have visited various game parks over the years, so have some basis for comparison. Until Nkorho Bush Lodge, Timbavati was the pinnacle for us, but Nkorho and the Sabi Sand have exceeded even that.
As a guide on how to do this, I’d suggest you do your research on the area and the wildlife you want to see first, and then work out accommodation.
I wholeheartedly recommend the private game reserves adjoining the Kruger National Park as being the best. This envelopes both Sabi Sand and Timbavati. Unlike the Government game parks, where you are restricted to the roads, in these private game reserves, the rangers will take you off road to see the animals, which, by and large, accept the vehicles.
Based at Nkorho, over 10 game drives, we saw the big 5 innumerable times. A day didn’t go by without seeing virtually the whole 5 (leopard, lion, rhino, Cape buffalo and elephant). We also saw them in different situations. A lion pride with a buffalo kill, leopards on the ground, leopards up tree with kill, a leopard with cubs, both leopard and hyena at the same elephant carcass, individual lions drinking at sunset, breeding herds of elephant with lots of babies, herds of buffalo at a waterhole making life miserable for the incumbent hippo, lions sleeping or playing with each other, etc. Plus we saw the usual grazers - kudu, nyala, impala, steenbok, Burchill’s zebra, blue wildebeest, giraffe, bushbuck, waterbuck, reedbuck, etc, and other carnivores like both side-striped and black-backed jackal, baboon, and spotted hyena. We saw a den of 5 jackal pubs, leopard tortoise, giant plated lizards, blue tailed skinks, dwarf and banded mongoose, tree squirrel and warthog. There are plenty of birds too – a secretary bird, lilac breasted and European rollers, various hornbills, Burchill’s starling, eagles and vultures, weaver birds and guinea fowl. Enough said – the wildlife is amazing.
Having established the frequency of game, now look for accommodation. Well, that’s a matter for you and your wants and price range.
For us, we were absolutely delighted with our choice of Nkorho. We had 5 nights there and it has been our best African experience, bar none. We made some firm friends, both with the staff and some of the guests.
Wesley, our young chef, prepared some great meals, and his description of the menu was one of the highlights of the dinners in the fire-lit boma. The rangers’ omelette for breakfast is awesome. Some of the ladies that help him in the kitchen sing at night, as does Elton, a waiter/kitchenhand.
Karen and Julia in the office were great. Internet is available. It’s a little slow and expensive, but, hey, you’re in the middle of the bush, so don’t complain and be grateful there’s any at all!
The rooms are lovely - large, atmospheric - polished log bedheads, outside and inside showers, ceiling fan, safe, fridge, screens, a veranda, etc. They moved a single bed into our room instead of the couch. African stories and chocolates were left as part of the evening turn-down service, and the beds were always made when we returned from our morning game drives. I chose this accommodation based on a consideration of Trip Advisor comments, and would also recommend room 3, but at least room 4 would give you a view of the waterhole too. I had booked well in advance and secured room 3 by choice.
The 3 rangers at Nkorho, Peter, Greg and Jacque, were fabulous. We always drove with Peter, with Thomas as spotter, in our long-based landcruiser, but we got to know the other two rangers too as they are always around, helping out at the bar, having dinner with the guests, etc. Jacque is a young ranger with a great sense of humour and is a bit of a practical joker. He is so enthusiastic, too, and leapt at the opportunity to see lion, even when off duty. Greg had some terrific stories around the boma at night.
Peter is just a great bloke, and we will be indebted to him for life for the experiences he gave us.
And they always seemed to get what they needed. We were there for a while, and so saw things many times over. But some people were only there for a couple of game drives, yet, between them, the rangers always made sure they had encounters with at least the big 5.
We also did game walks, sometimes to see some of the small five (like ant lion), or flora with medicinal purposes (like the toothbrush tree) or even up to the recent buffalo kill (the lions having left) to see the picked over bones after a few short days.
A special mention needs to be made about Thomas, which probably illustrates the attitude of those who live and work at Nkorho. I’d been bugging Thomas, out spotter, about bushbaby and chameleon on our afternoon/evening drives. On our last night drive, Thomas found a bushbaby (as well as a jackal den), but alas no chameleon. Just as we were leaving our room to check out, Thomas turned up with a chameleon. It was a very poignant moment for me – he’d gone out of his way to find me one.
There are two pools at Nkorho, and the horizon pool overlooking the pan is a relaxing treat after a hot game walk.
A mention about getting there - Julia and Karen organised flights there and back by Federal Air from Johannesburg airport (about 1.5 hours flying time). I mean they organised everything – booking, payment and even how to find the FedAir office in O R Tambo airport. It went like clockwork – Fed Air run a very tidy operation and I would use them without hesitation.
I can’t speak highly enough of Nkorho. The animals are there in number (look at the webcam for Nkorho – even when we were there, 4 of the big 5 had a drink at that waterhole), the location is fabulous, but the people make Nkorho what it is. I can’t wait to return.
- Also Known As:
- Nkorho Bush Hotel Sabi Sand Game Reserve
- Nkorho Bush Hotel
- Nkorho Bush Lodge South Africa/Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Nestled near the unfenced borders of the Kruger National Park this luxury four star Sabi Sand lodge offers a diverse abundance of classic African Wildlife. Nkorho Bush Lodge offers a comfortable environment in which to become one with nature, whether it be bird watching or game viewing from an open vehicle we offer a bushveld experience extraordinaire. Nkorho Bush Lodge creates and atmosphere of relaxation, sheer contentment a feeling of unity. ... more less