Makalali’s pride and joy is the concession’s beautiful predators. Garonga guests have recently been lucky enough to witness wildlife sightings of all types, but the highlight for many has been seeing the Makalali pride of lions.
This video was filmed during a game drive in the concession when the Garonga visitors had a close-up encounter with these fabulous felines. The lions don’t seem to mind the nearby spectators during their bushveld siesta and are contentedly stretching and relaxing right next to the game viewer.
Picture yourself waking up to the wild sounds of Africa and the distinctive scents of pure nature. Open your eyes to see the bright blue sky spotted with white, fluffy clouds. Get up and start your day by admiring the stunning views of the Makalali bushveld spreading out before you. The Garonga sleep out is a firm favourite activity amongst guests, and it is not hard to grasp why.
After a 20-minute drive away from the main camp, guests who are adventurous enough to experience life in the African bush for a night are dropped off at Garonga’s very own star bed. There, on a sleep out platform amidst the trees, guests can experience the real magic of the African bush.
Sit back on the sleep out viewing deck and indulge in a 3-course bush dinner, surrounded by wilderness. Pop a bottle of bubbly open as the day starts turning into night and look up to see the Milky Way in all its sparkly splendour. This is what safari dreams are made of.
The fate of the environment is very close to many safari enthusiasts’ hearts. Garonga shares their passion to conserve this beautiful planet, and has gone a long way to create a green safari experience.
The label eco-friendly safari doesn’t come without its fair share of contribution and involvement in keeping things green. The Garonga team stands behind their efforts to constantly look for new ways to be environmentally friendly. From solar power and heater pumps to a biogas system, Garonga is making a change in the way a modern day safari is experienced.
Even the Garonga wildlife is benefiting from the camp’s conservation efforts. The animals can enjoy drinking fresh, water that’s been filtered from camp and pumped back to the waterhole. The Garonga vegetable garden is also thriving, providing clean, organic produce to the camp’s guests.
Pairing a leisurely, unhurried ‘soul safari’ experience with genuine care for the environment, Garonga stands out from the crowd of safari camps in Africa. ‘On the edge of the Kruger National Park, Garonga has, through Bernie’s determination and personal investment, become one of the most eco-friendly safari camps in South Africa – if not the entire continent.’ a travel article by Turquoise Holidays states. Indeed, persistence and commitment can make a green-tinged difference.
Garonga had some very special visitors recently. The Kulesza family enjoyed their 11th stay at the camp in August. The Garonga team was, once again, very pleased to host the safari enthusiastic family at the camp.
Sören Kulesza and his parents, Wolfgang and Ute, who keep returning to Garonga, time after time, got to experience yet another selection of wonderful sightings during their recent safari stay. Sören snapped these beautiful close-up wildlife shots during one of the family’s game drives in the vast Makalali bushveld.
If there is one thing that keeps drawing visitors to the remarkable Kruger National Park, it is the amount and variety of wildlife that wander through the vast reserve. The Makalali Conservancy, just west of the Kruger Park, is no different.
Here, in the dense African bushveld, recent Garonga visitors have been blessed with memorable moments in the bush. The guests have seen sightings of all kinds, from our favourite elephant families having leisurely lunches under the African sun to a hyena clan enjoying an afternoon siesta or two lions engaging in an outburst of passion.
The best safari moments have to be experienced, not explained. However, since it is not always possible to go on a safari – no matter how much we may want to – we decided to bring safari to you in the form of real guest videos:
Although winter is kicking in in South Africa, the Garonga team has a good reason to be beaming with warm, fuzzy happiness. The camp has recently won the prestigious TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2015 with the additional ‘Hall of Fame’ recognition. According to TripAdvisor, the Certificate of Excellence award celebrates excellence in hospitality and is only given to establishments that consistently achieve great traveller reviews on TripAdvisor. The ‘Hall of Fame’ was created to honour businesses that have earned a Certificate of Excellence for five consecutive years.
Recognition does not come without dedication and hard work. The ‘safari for the soul’ mentality that Garonga lives by is prominent in every aspect of the Garonga experience. From thrilling, wildlife-rich game drives and African style fine dining experiences to snoozes under soft, comfy sheets, private, lavish Bush Baths or a massage session, the feeling of unassuming safari bliss is always present at Garonga.
But what is the ultimate secret behind safari guests leaving the camp with wide smiles on their faces and a piece of Africa in their hearts year after year? Let the recent TripAdvisor guest reviews speak for themselves.
Sarah, The UK:
‘On the drives we saw everything we wanted to see including leopard, lions, cheetah, elephant and rhino. We were surprised as to how close we were able to get to the animals and it was nice as unlike previous safaris I have been on there were only ever a max of 2-3 trucks at any 1 sighting.’
Brian, The UK: ‘I have never been disappointed with any aspect of this camp. The food and accommodation is a delight. And the staff are fantastic, nothing is not to much effort.’
Rick, The UK: ‘We had always wanted to do a luxury safari for our honeymoon and we were not disappointed! Garonga ticked every box for us and more!’
Karen, South Africa: ‘The staff are simply delightful. Everyone is super friendly and very helpful. Housekeeping are amazing – sneaking into the tents whenever you’re gone to tidy up, clean and leave you lovely messages.’
Ernst, The Netherlands: ‘Everything was great: the receipt, the staff, the lodge, the food, the tents, pure luxury and pampering.’
Many Garonga visitors love the relaxed, unhurried safari experience that the camp provides. However, young safari enthusiasts prefer excitement and watching the four-legged Makalali residents go about their fascinating lives in the African bush.
Little Garonga offers the perfect safari escape for families. The camp can accommodate up to eight guests, including two children. And there is no reason for little people not to like life at the quirky, different and fun Little Garonga. The camp is spacious and has a separate bathroom for children. The Hambleden Suite also has its own pool and a deck with a hammock that both the old and the young guests can enjoy.
Another reason for the little ones to relish Little Garonga is seeing the wonderful Makalali wildlife up close. There is nothing quite as exciting as observing the shenanigans of the African creatures, big and small, that inhabit the Garonga bushveld.
“I loved Garonga because Ceejay let me sit in the front of the vehicle when I went on my first game drive on my own and I saw a pride of twelve lions and a leopard.” Amelia, aged 8, explains why she enjoyed being a Garonga guest. Captivating wildlife viewing, mouthwatering meals, friendly, chatty staff and refreshing swims in the pool – safari life could not get much better.
It is no secret that we at Garonga love romance and relaxation. We also love wildlife and the raw African wilderness that sets each day with a unique safari scene. Pair these two factors together and you have what we like to call “A Safari for the Soul”.
A soul safari is an unhurried experience with opportunities for wild and wonderful wildlife encounters and precious time for relaxation and rejuvenation, all with the aim of reawakening one’s spirit and appreciation of our world. The Garonga team believes in a safari experience of a different kind, where you can do as little or as much as you like.
Hop into a candle-lit bush bath with your loved one, let the worries of the world fade away and surrender to a safari romance whilst the wild scents and tranquil sounds of the African bush surround you.
Another way to experience the Kruger Park that remains a unique Garonga hidden treasure is to sleep outdoors on a raised platform where you can truly connect to the bushveld surroundings. The night sky and twinkling stars become your bush bedroom backdrop and the magic of Africa casts her safari spell that whisks you away into a deep sleep.
“A beautiful house set amidst a lush garden of indigenous trees, vegetation and boulders.” This is how a guest describesumSisi House – a property where some Garonga visitors stop over at on the way in or out of our lodge. It is set close to the start of South Africa’s “Panorama Route” with many attractions and stunning scenery nearby.
umSisi House offers exclusive accommodation to small groups between four and ten people. But what their guests really find unique is the hospitality of the management couple. “Paddy and Amanda were the perfect hosts and treated us to animated conversations and gourmet meals.” a recent umSisi visitor comments on a TripAdvisor review.
The highlight of staying at umSisi House for many is the abundance of activities on offer in the area. From abseiling and horseback trails to canoeing and mountain biking, there’s something for every type of heart rate. If activities feel too adventurous, guests can also relax and just take in the surroundings, chatting occasionally to Paddy and Amanda and even gaining some tips on how to make the most out of a South African holiday.
The umSisi team is passionate about wildlife and love what they do, which clearly does not go unnoticed by the property’s guests. As another umSisi Housevisitor says: “umSisi House is a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of city life.”
It is quite incredible another year has almost flown by. Since our last catch up Scotland “FORNEVER” and now they want to try again , and again, and …again. Salmond got smoked as is traditional up there anyway; how else would you want it. Obama got thrashed and is playing “Lame Duck” now. How slow to react to the ISIS menace! Anyway the less PR we give the ISIS machine the better as they thrive on it. Russia still playing “Big Boy” against Ukraine and denying there are Russians involved. UKIP are thriving now with 2 x MP’s and the Political Parties all putting their heads in the sand saying it will be different next year! Hmmmmmmmm! Lest wait and see. Troops leave Afghanistan to the Afghans; Cameron states that troops will never go there again – not surprising since there is hardly an Army left after his cuts. Iraq was the same wasn’t it – never go back there again, and…?
Ebola in West Africa sparks panic in some places. Thankfully, eventually, US and UK Govts send forces there to assist; little to nothing from the remainder. Eastern and Southern Africa are far way and so far untouched unlike the USA and Europe. I wonder when the travel ban will be lifted from USA and Europe then! Ummmmmmmmm! You can bet your bottom dollar if there’s a case here then a ban would be put by the US; ironic somewhat that 9 cases or so in the USA has no reaction. So the moral of the story is “it is fine to travel to other areas of Africa” and you don’t have to be put in quarantine when you return; so ludicrous stories of Bosses telling people you cant come back to work unless 3 weeks quarantine, well this is just plain stupidity.
Here in S.Africa the very reliable Power Utility ESKOM is power shedding again and so every week-end now we have power outages. Can’t a private Company come in and replace the useless Dinosaur of ESKOM. Otherwise it’s corruption as usual and life carries on. The Postal strike finally ended after months on strike, so no chance of getting the Xmas post now.
Rugby thriving with the Southern Hemisphere paying a visit to the North and pretty much taking all the Games; although Ireland did play superbly beating the 2 Big Uns. Wales beating the Springboks! England …well…? Sad Blatter (FIFA Dinosaur) sticking to his corrupt team; he’ll only go if somebody pushes him under a Bus. Then the trajic news of Philip Hughes (Australian Cricketer); what a great energetic man he was. I watched the Funeral and my God, it was certainly an emotional affair and incredibly moving.
Down here at Garonga we’ve had a very busy last 3 months. Congratulations go to Dirk and Cornelia, Dave and Kate, Chris and Liz, Adam and Ruth for tying the knot here at Garonga. We all wish you the very best!
Many thanks to Andy, Beth and Sheryl, the Africa In Focus Team (Rep Company in SA) for organising the educational trips for the Tour Operators from Cape Town and Durban. These are just so essential for Agents to see that there is life outside of the Sabi Sands.
The Safari Teams have really been trying pulling out all the stops when they can. There have been some incredible sightings though; one couple saw a Lion Kill from the Picnic deck when they were having lunch, and the same couple had also just experienced a cheetah kill the previous day; how damn cool is that! Leopard sightings have been up and down. The Ellies disappeared for a period of time but have now magically reappeared and doing what they do best. The two big Male Lions have been seen fairly regularly as they patrol their patch (quite a big patch on 22000hactres or 60,000 acres). The Impalas have now given birth and so Bambies are everywhere. Now its getting hotter walks not so popular but they are there if you want them.
The sleepouts, Bush baths, and now the Picnics are being well and truly used. Now that we have finally had the first rains the bush is slowly greening. The rains have been very late and not as much as usual at this time of the year, but don’t want to tempt fate.
The Chefettes have performed admirably, and as is tradition a recipe will be attached with this newsletter. A small change we have added in now is have a delicious cake for tea. Lunches and Picnics restarted in September.
It was great to welcome back Linda who carried out 6 days of intense training with the staff. She always brings an incredible excitement with her which really jiffs up the staff. Until next year.
There is so much to running a Safari Camp. Guests will only see a ¼ of the picture. Behind the scenes we have such great staff working in Scullery, Housekeeping and Laundry, Security, Farm and Maintenance.
I was very fortunate to take 3 weeks leave in September and decided to do the Cultural thing; went to Jordan, The Dead Sea, and all the temples, and then to Lebanon doing pretty much the same thing. Beirut was amazing with the French style Café’s and street very much in evidence. Went to the temples at Balbach in Lebanon; this was amazing not least because the Syrian Border was only about 35 clicks away. However they are really suffering in Tourism. I counted 4 other people when I was there, and according to the Guide it normally was packed. Anyway a fascinating trip.
Well, it’s time (gasp, you say) to wrap up. A big thank-you to you, our Guests!! Also to the Travel Trade who provide such an excellent service to Visitors to SA,. Thanks also to Paul and his fantastic and energetic team at Wildweb, and lastly but by no means least to Africa In Focus, ETC Marketing in Germany and Ethos Marketing in UK; our marketing Rep Companies who pound the streets night and day getting Garonga on the Travel Trade’s Radar, putting up with Mr. Grumps, and no doubt screaming sometimes with extreme frustration; thank-You!
A memorable year has passed where UK troops have handed over in Afghanistan, provided a far better environment to the Afghans than when they first started and at such cost in lives and Injuries to the Troops themselves. Thank-you!!
Wishing you all a fantastic Xmas with your Families and loved ones, and every success for 2015!!