An untouched dry-riverbed tented camp. A wild cat crossing. Unfolding of an untamed experience in the African bush. We were there – and you should visit!

Tucked away deep within the Kruger National Park, on previously unexplored grounds, is an all-new, untamed experience. Kruger Untamed: Tshokwane River Camp – a seasonal luxury tented camp concession has just popped up for the Winter months only, offering guests a deeper connection to the African bush.

You can expect to feel the rush of close encounter on daily game drives, experience unpredictable sightings on safari walks, tuck into mouth-watering meals and enjoy camping in comfort like never before.

Everything you see at Tshokwane River Camp site is not fixed and built beneath the native century-old Leadwood trees and around the protected Apple-leaf trees. Come end September, the site will be removed, leaving no trace, and allowing the Ripape riverbed to fill up again.

You’ll rest and recharge in a 24m² size tent, with a queen size bed layered with white linen, an overhanging mosquito net and bedside lamps with mobile charging points.

The en-suite bathroom has a chemical toilet and a bulter-filled shower – which the staff fill with hot water before you want to clean-up. The evening showers are spectacular … all massive skies with view of stars above you. Then slip into your comfiest-ever gown and climb into bed, where a hot water bottle waits for extra warmth.

Luxury tent. Photo: Supplied

Expect a wake-up call from the ranger before your morning game drive. Or perhaps not. We were awakened by an unexpected roaring sound. All was considered when scouting the location for this camp, including the stretch between Satara and Tshokwane that offers excellent opportunities for encountering lions this time of year. Waking up to a lion’s roar is not uncommon in the wild as their cat cry can be heard from afar, but knowing that only a zipped-up canvas stands between you and a hungry lion chasing down a leopard that rudely interrupted his morning hunt for buffalo right across the riverbed just meters away was rather hair raising!

Enjoy lounging, playing lawn games, taking a dip in the pool or sipping on a G&T by the riverbed. Photo: Supplied

When the sun is out, much fun is to be had. Spending the day out by the riverbed reminds us of an Island resort … the only difference is it’s river sand … and animal dense bush surrounds.

Keep busy with a game of cornhole or test your steadiness playing some large Jenga. It’s also a chance to unwind with a G&T and lounge (with one eye open) while you soak up the African sun.

Toss the bean bag in a game of cornhole. Photo: Megan Brett

The guided safari walk is a thrill a minute … not knowing what you could stumble across makes for an exciting activity. Head guide Etienne Krige can teach you a thing or two about identifying a lion’s print … and all guides are armed should you come across a wild encounter … like the buffalo that tends to charge with no sign of warning.

Paw print of a male lion. Photo: Megan Brett

The lions really seemed to hog the limelight on this trip. Hearing them roar, seeing their prints and encountering a big pride on the prowl just a few arm lengths away while on an afternoon game drive, licking lips and looking hungry as ever, was amazing.

Lions on the prowl. Photo: Megan Brett
The look of a hungry lion. Photo: Megan Brett

And again, later on, in an extremely rare sighting on the other side of a river … where we spotted the very same pride preying on a dangerous dinner of buffalo. We watched this right from the start, when the pride of lions used the wind to their advantage to creep up on the herd of buffalo. But before they could strike, the buffalos swept dust beneath them hindering the sight of the lions. And the brawl began.

The pride of lions circles the herd of buffalos. Photo: Megan Brett

Using great formation and a few jostle knocks from their horns, the pride of at least 17 lions stood no chance against the mighty herd of buffalos. It appeared to be more of a training session for the adolescent male lions than a successful hunt.

The buffalo bull using his strength to jostle a lion. Photo: Megan Brett

We also saw plenty of glossy starlings that soared the sky with their shimmery blue wings, a few southern yellow-billed hornbills, a Kori Bustard and even a scruffy looking Burchell’s Coucal.

Scruffy looking Burchell’s coucal. Photo: Megan Brett

Returning to the camp was a charming scene of lanterns that cast a soft glow on the weathered bark. An inviting camp fire was lit where we sat and chattered away about the day, tucking into a delicious cup of hot soup and French Baguette … just what we needed to warm chilly bellies.

The camp lights up at night. Photo: Supplied

Siblings James Lawrie and Ann De Jager are in charge of the spread of African cuisine at the camp.

Siblings and chefs James Lawrie and Ann De Jager. Photo: Megan Brett

James’ food journey started at the age of 8, and he draws inspiration from family hunting trips where recipes were passed down to him. We couldn’t get enough of the Salsa Verde which we served up over thinly sliced fillet. We did try and get our hands on the recipe but had no luck. On the second night, we enjoyed a warthog potjie, cooked over 8 hours, with the secret ingredient being … good grief … Fanta Orange. This hearty meal paired perfectly with a glass of Pinotage. Ann maked sure we went to bed on a sugar-high with a sweet treat dessert of Crème Brûlée.

Slow-cooked warthog potjie. Photo: Megan Brett

To our delight, we met Beyers Truter, the Pinotage king himself and got to sip on a few camp-fire favourites. Our fav being the Beyerskloof Traildust and the Beyerskloof Synergy Cape Blend 2020, which smelled like Christmas pudding. Over dinner, a glass of some of the finest Grand Pinotage 1925 collectable wines were poured and we savoured each sip appreciating the rarity of the moment, rare like the experience you will find at Kruger Untamed.

Wine tasting with Beyers Truter. Photo: Megan Brett

Co-founders of Chiefs Tented Camps, Allan Johnston and Lysta Stander want to offer guests the opportunity to experience the Kruger like never before and luxury camping is a way you can do that and be close to nature in comfort.

Before this camp disappears, book a few nights to disconnect, reset and rediscover the African bush. Chiefs Tented Camps is part of the Motsamayi Tourism group. The rates for Tshokwane River Camp start at R5,950 per person per night sharing for SADC residents and R9,500 per person per night sharing for international guests. Included are all meals, teas and coffees, soft drinks, house wines and local brand spirits and beers, as well as two game drives daily or daily guided walking safari. There are return road transfers between Skukuza Airport and the camp.

Details: krugeruntamed.com


Complied by: Megan Brett