Kapama River Lodge – A River Runs Through It
Kapama River Lodge runs like a well-oiled machine. Established in 1986 by the late Johann Roode with the purchase of a farm near Hoedspruit, its initial use for cattle farming became challenging with the influx of predators and the severe drought.
His decision to turn it into an ecotourism business was met with great fanfare and the success of the different accommodation establishments is testament in this 13,000 hectares of extensive wilderness.
It is evident from the outset that Kapama River Lodge is a very popular destination for families and couples. A hive of activity with a steady stream of visitors makes this the ideal place to unwind and see the Big 5 up close and personal. With 64 suites beautifully decorated suites, this is five-star luxury on a grand scale. You can choose from three types of accommodation options, all complete with full en-suite bathrooms, tea and coffee making facilities and air conditioning.
Amos greets us with the warmest of welcomes and we are taken down the winding walkway to reception where he checks us in. The treetop canopy makes you imagine that Tarzan will be making an appearance at any given moment. After a refreshing drink and the formalities out of the way, we are ready to head to our room. Our wooden crafted bed looks very inviting, but our veranda beckons where we relax before heading to the Rhino Boma where lunch is waiting.
A sudden skirmish catches our attention and we look up to witness a display of vervet monkeys pouncing on the table of some newlywed clients, making off with their fruit and vegetables. These opportunistic primates will grab anything off the table as scavenging is in their nature.
After lunch, we unwind at the pool where from our vantage point we can watch hippos frolicking in the distance. High Tea is being served, a mouthwatering selection of sweet treats washed down with your beverage of choice.
It is game drive time! We are introduced to our ranger, Freedom and tracker, Noel. Along the way, we see zebra, giraffe, warthog and a lovely yellow-billed hornbill. Two of the Big 5 graze side by side – a white rhino and buffalo in perfect harmony. The light has faded and the anticipation sets in that we might encounter a predator. Then we spot him in the thicket, peacefully resting under a broken tree branch, the most incredibly stunning green eyed leopard. He gets up and strolls right past our vehicle, making eye contact. The nocturnals are making their appearance and much to everyone’s delight, we see a honey badger with its young making a hasty retreat for shelter.
Our boma dinner is delicious, with buffet-style servings, meaning you can eat to your heart’s content. My favorite part is the delectable vanilla mousse dessert, which I try to coax the chef to make me the following day, but to no avail as the menu changes on a daily basis.
A refreshing shower precedes a wonderful slumber. It is Day 2 and we are ready to see what else is in store for us. Our drive takes us along the shrubbery and we spot the rosettes – another leopard! These elusive cats are difficult enough to see, but seeing one in broad daylight really is a tick off the bucket list. He is heading towards the dry riverbed to drink and we follow him to witness this special sighting. On our way back to camp, we encounter hippos, giraffe, warthog and buffalo.
It is time for breakfast and at the serving area you may be pleasantly surprised to find the serving chef conversing with you in your home language. The very friendly and jovial Erasmus will address you in Portugese, Spanish, Italian or French, just to mention a few of the fourteen languages in which he can let you know what’s cooking.
After lunch, our evening game drive showcases some amazing creatures – an elephant bull and a lion having a siesta on a river bank until a bird sound attracts his attention.
On our last day, the sun has made its appearance and together with it the usual suspects – a herd of buffalo grazing, giraffe browsing and in the treetops vultures holding vigil over a dead buffalo. Around the next bend, we stumble upon a breeding herd of elephants; imagine the ‘ooh’s and aah’s’ when we spot a seven day old calf! What a cutie! A giraffe is heading towards the water and in a rather awkward display, it has to open its front legs and bend down to lap it up. Try drinking comfortably when you are over 4 metres (13 feet) tall!
We conclude our stay with an enjoyable breakfast and then it’s time to hit the road. In the words of Eramus ‘au revoir’!
Thank you to Kapama for making our stay possible.
Views expressed are the author’s own. https://www.kapama.com/kapama-river-lodge/