THE ARRIVAL TENT AND OUTDOOR DAYBEDS
Jock has just had a huge refurbishment, and our favourite new features are the Arrival Tent and the daybed for sleep outs. Reminiscent of the era of the Great African Safari, the Arrival Tent is all vintage furniture and leather-bound journals, old trunks and zebraskin rugs, rich shades and luxurious textures – everything one needs to get into safari mode. Each of the dozen secluded thatched suites now has an enclosed sala (daybed) where you can spend your leisure hours daydreaming and watching the ellies stroll by. You can also (and we cannot recommend this enough) ask for the bed to be made up for an overnight ‘camp out’ – an exceptional experience. Before you turn off your lantern, read Sir Percy FitzPatrick’s bedtime tales, printed out and left on your pillow along with the sweet treats.
BATHING UNDER THE STARS
If you’re going to experience sleeping outdoors, you may as well enjoy the romantic thrill of bathing under the night skies, too. All the suites, which have magnificent views over the riverbed, have a private deck with a plunge pool and a Victorian bath and outdoor shower. Covered when not in use (the monkeys love to turn on the taps and leave them running), simply whip off the cover, add overgenerous amounts of bubble bath and – bliss. You could, if you wish, read in the bath (always a treat) – a copy of Jock of the Bushveld (the famous story of a dog’s courage and loyalty during SA’s first gold rush era) is just one of the thoughtful touches in the room. There’s also a decanter of sherry (essential in the bush, even if you never drink it elsewhere) and everything else you want – sliced biltong and fresh nuts and fruit, bird and animal checklists, even postcards, should you wish to please someone immensely and send them a handwritten note.
UPSTAIRS AT JIM’S
There’s a rather lovely bar at the top of those stairs. Upstairs at Jim’s is the gathering place of choice, where you can sip an icy G&T or chilled beer and exchange tall stories. Talking about stories, the lodge was founded in 1982 by descendants of Sir Percy FitzPatrick and was the first private concession granted in Kruger National Park. The lodge also boasts a Relaxation Retreat with sauna and the opportunity to relax with a full body massage, and a small, quiet library. Books in the bush – perfect!
The food at Jock Safari Lodge is amazing. A. Maz. Ing! Be it in the boma, in the central courtyard or upstairs overlooking the heated swimming pool, you can expect exceptional meals – from a local, special version of eggs Benedict after the morning game drive, to cheese platters or grilled prawns or chilled cucumber soup at lunch, to massive steaks and superb salads at dinner. You’re not going to go hungry. When the weather’s warm and dry, you may be treated to the Riverbed Dining Experience – dinner in the riverbed in front of the lodge. Our must-have – the home-made lemonade served at lunchtime, which we then requested at every available opportunity.
Game walks. Game drives. Bird watching. The lodge has 6 000 hectares of Big Five country, and you’d be fairly unlucky not to see all five, plus so, so much more, over a weekend visit. Jock also has exclusive riverbed traversing rights – you don’t even have to leave the lodge to enjoy the wildlife (squint a little at this pic, and you’ll see the ellies who appear to steadily and quietly stroll past on a daily basis).
Stuff you need to know…
There’s a lovely private lodge – FitzPatrick’s at Jock – which is perfect for small private parties as well as families with children. Rates, from R8 960 a person a night, include meals, game drives, guided walks and house beverages. For readers booking for May or June, there’s a 10 per cent discount plus a R250 on-site credit for spa treatments, premium wines or gifts. Details: www.jocksafarilodge.com, 013-010-0019 or [email protected]