Had an amazing time at Djuma Vuyatela, some extremely rude Polish guests notwithstanding (to these two, Nie plotek na oczach ludzi. Jest rude, i głupi.).
These tourists were continuously going on about how they had seen ‘far more animals in the Masai Mara’, and speaking with great authority, although they have probably only been to Africa a half dozen times. I have lived in various African countries for a combined period of almost 30 years and have been on HUNDREDS of Safaris in settings from Savannah to Bushveld to Desert to Delta etc, and I feel I should explain something…
The Sabi Sands is attached to the world famous Kruger National Park. The former is the best place on Earth to view “the Big 5” at close range, and the latter is by far the most Mammal-diverse African reserve. To quantify this, whilst the Masai Mara (which is amazing! I am not disparaging it) has slightly less than 100 species of mammals, Kruger has 149 counted thus far. Where the wonderful Masai Mara and Serengeti are without parallel, is in the sheer number of animals they have – particularly during the migration. 95% of this number, however, is made up of a very few species – Wildebeest, Zebra and Thompson’s Gazelle notably. In terms of biomass, this is one of the two greatest migrations on Earth (the other being South Africa’s sardine run) and it is amazing.
Personally though, I am more impressed by diversity than biomass, as it speaks of a more pristine habitat. I would not trade the 5 leopards and 20 lions we saw in our two days at Djuma for 50 000 wildebeest and 20 000 zebra (we saw wildebeest, giraffe, zebra, elephant, buffalo, rhino and all usual suspects in addition of course).
For diversity, and pristine habitat, the Sabi Sands and Kruger are immaculately preserved. Regions of Kruger, and all of the Sabi Sands, have never been used for any form of agricultural or economic activity. The bushveld habitat they support, never influenced by cattle over-grazing, is as it has been for countless millennia, and it is an extraordinary privilege to be able to participate in it. Both nights while we had dinner at Djuma, we watched leopards from the deck. An amazing opportunity, and something I’ve never experienced anywhere else in Africa.
I would say the following. For complex environment and diversity of animals, the Kruger National Park. For opportunities to view the big 5, Sabi Sands is without any peer. For sheer bio-mass, the Masai-Mara Serengeti (though it has less diversity). For unique habitat, the Okavango Delta (though it has fewer animals). For waterhole experience, Etosha in Namibia.
Facilities at Djuma are excellent. The drivers are knowledgeable and passionate about the bush, and the accommodation luxurious. I loved both the huge bath and outside shower, and the small plunge pool overlooking a dry river bed was a great place to unwind. The separate lounge was great to enjoy afternoon tea and coffee, and I thought the ‘modern-township-type-art’ was incredibly clever, contemporary and yet tasteful for the bush.
Personally I would have liked a slightly larger wine selection, but that’s only as someone who has now settled in Cape Town! Food was tasty and ample, and the staff serving and preparing it were both friendly and professional.
I am confident people visiting will have an amazing time.
- Also Known As:
- Vuyatela Hotel Djuma Game Reserve
- Vuyatela Lodge & Galago Camp South Africa/Djuma Game Reserve