After a two hour drive from Nelsprit airport, we rounded a bend on the windy dirt road and arrived Kirkman's Kamp. Standing right outside the main house were host, Ulandy and our butler, Cynthia. Ulandy welcomed us warmly and gave us a quick tour of the main house, telling us about the history of the house and some Do's and Don'ts [eg. Don't feed the monkey, and, Never walk outside at night without a camp guard].
The main house is where everything happens, including the WiFi. There is a bar area for after game drive drinks in the evening, and at the back of the house, is the dining room and a view of the sunrise. Wifi is only available here. Most likely, your package, like ours, is an all-inclusive deal. The food at the kamp is very good. There is lots of fresh fruits, salads, meats and even the honey cured ham is done in-house. The dining area has indoor and outdoor seating. Although it was winter, outdoor meals at lunch and dinner are comfortable.
Watch out for the BOMA - this is a traditional English outdoor meal meaning "Officer's meal surrounded by fencing". Hot brazier in the centre, tables arranged around it, and an outdoor cooking area [like a huge BBQ pit] surrounded by a high fence. My son said it was like being on the set of Jurrasic Park. We had a good time here and were joined by our Ranger and other vehicle occupants [we had a lovely couple from the USA -she was volunteering in Congo as a Doctor].
Our personal butler was Cynthia, and she ensured that we were well-fed at our meals, and also tended to our requirements in our room. She even made my wife and I a bubble bath, complete with bubbly and glasses to enjoy after a long day on the game drive. We enjoyed the food very much. Often there would be some game meat on the menu, but these were not too gamey. There was too much food and too little exercise!
In between the game drives, we had time to hang out around the main house or rest in our room. My son received "daily missions" at breakfast. My son learnt to shoot the air gun at a paper target and learnt how to survive without a toothbrush and toilet paper [using nature's gifts!]. Eugene was very patient and enjoyed showing my son the ropes. Meanwhile, my wife had time for massages between breakfast and lunch.
Rooms are rustic and colonial style with modern touches. Air conditioning, heated mattress, fridge with fizzy drinks and alcohol, plus snacks come as part of the room. In the toilet, there is a cast iron bath tub, a single sink, toilet and a shower area. The shower is a little low on pressure, but was very hot. There is also a safe, ceiling fan and hairdryer. The laundry was done for us, but it may depend on your package.
There is a small gift shop near the front of the main house. If you need warmer gear for the game drives, reference books or gifts for family, this is the place to be. The final bill is settled here too!
Game drives happen everyday, just after 0630hrs and 1500hrs. You simply appear at the main house, get some coffee or tea, a light snack [home-made muesli bar or cookies at breakfast; cakes and coffee at high tea] and soon after, hop onto your game drive vehicle.
Kirkman's uses open top Landrovers and these can get quite chilly on the morning game drives. Luckily, they include a warm blanket and hot water bottle for each passenger. We were allocated to a vehicle and with it came with a Ranger and Tracker which you will build a bond with over the next few days. Our tracker, Victor, was very knowledgeable and experienced. We spent two game drives tracking an elusive Leopard - one male and one female, and this was a really good experience for us. On this drive, we drove off road into the bush looking for tracks. We ended up at an area, with each vehicle following their own Leopard tracks and had eventually converged here. The search continued as the trackers worked together on foot to find the elusive male Leopard.
On our first game drive, soon after we left Kirkman's, they spotted fresh Lion tracks. Our Ranger, Wayne, drives the 4x4 and gave us a narrative on what we are looking at, interesting facts, passes on survival skills and helps the tracker with animal tracks spotting, At the start of the drive he makes decisions with us on what we would like to see at each drive. He was an experinced driver too, and handled the vehicle very well. Over the course of our five game drives, we built a good bond with Wayne and Victor.
Midway through the 3 hour game drives, we stopped for something to eat and drink. Wayne and Victor broke out a table, and coffee and tea was served, often with a choice of having Amarula [similar to Bailey's cream] popped into your coffee. We also nibbled on cookies on the morning drives. In the evening, alcoholic beverages are served with nuts and Biltong [an air dried and spiced beef cut into pieces].
A word about your camera. You can get away with a standard "pea-shooter" camera with a good zoom function. My son used a Lego camera and my Canon S95. My wife took pictures and videos with her iPhone4S, and these came out quite well. Most times, your vehicle gets pretty close to the animals. Even when we spotted a resting pride of Lions, these cameras were sufficient. For the serious photographer, you can bring your zoom lenses as there will be times when the animals are further away across the river or high up in the trees.
Our time at Kirkman's Kamp came to a close all too soon. Each day was spent driving around for 6 hours, and in between was meals, massages and more fun. The staff here are very warm and friendly, and they make sure you are well taken of. Game drives are a very unique experience. This is made better by the hospitality and knowledge of your ranger and the intimate knowledge of your tracker.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The spirit of safari comes alive at historic Kirkman’s Kamp. Step back in time into the gracious early settler atmosphere of this original 1920s homestead and marvel at the spectacular views of the unspoiled wilderness from each of the 18 guest cottages and the lodge’s rim-flow swimming pool. Rolling lawns carve out a niche in a wild and tumbling wilderness that hosts memorable game viewing in one of the most renowned Big Five wildlife regions in the world. Spacious sitting, dining and bar guest areas contain original mementos of a time long past. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Kirkman`s Kamp Hotel Sabi Sand Game Reserve
- AndBeyond Kirkman's Kamp South Africa/Sabi Sand Game Reserve