Klaserie Sands Safari Trails. A new camp arises out of the African soil.

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Owner Louis Rautenbach, surveys his 'kingdom' from the roof of his Landie

Stretching as far as the eye can see. Hidden in this landscape is the recently completed Klaserie Sands Safari Trails. The Klaserie Private Nature Reserve covers 60000 hectares and when the fences between it and Kruger Park were removed in 1993, the game was able to wander freely between the two areas. Between the Klaserie and the Kruger, there is now 20000000 hectares of wildlife sanctuary. During my stay at the new camp, we got to experience just a small portion of the vastness on offer. At the time of my visit, in early October, the area was still awaiting the first rains. Our guide referred to rain as ‘Green Fire’, for the bush can change almost overnight, from brown and dusty, to verdant and rejuvenated.

 

Although the old fences to the Kruger Park have been dismantled, there are still remnants of the old posts and barbed wire that remain…and even a gate or two. The formation of the Greater Kruger National Park allows many more cars than those first few vehicles that entered in 1927. My first visit to the Kruger National Park was in June of 1966 as a 13-year old and it was those few days at Pretoriouskop, that cemented my love for the bush and all of its inhabitants.

 

A view from on high. The camp sits below a rocky outcrop, the top of which is just a short walk away. It is easy to imagine that when the rains arrive and bring with them new growth, the camp will totally vanish, becoming part of the landscape that it currently sits in. I can only imagine the petrichor(smell of rain on dry ground) that future visitors will get to experience.

 

As is usual when arriving in a camp, guests are met by staff bearing drinks and cold cloths to slake the thirst and to wipe away the dust after a morning or afternoon activity. In this instance, our arrival was in the form of a friendly welcome from Ashleigh and Steven. Be aware, these are not fleeting interactions…the staff are always keen to vicariously experience whatever outing the guests are returning from. Their excitement as tales are told is tangible.

 

My visit to this camp coincided with its completion. Most of the camps that I write about are established older camps, hence this being a very special visit for me! That being said, everything was working as it should and the accommodation and all the public areas (with the exception of the swimming pool) had been completed. It will be an asset once the heat of summer envelopes the camp and guests seek the cool of the pool and the views that it offers over the river bed as well as the nearby waterhole.

Breaking news: The pool has been successfully installed and is operational. Given the warm weather that is currently being experienced in the area, guests will no doubt be overjoyed that they can cool off before and after activities.

 

The heart of the camp. The stunningly designed lounge has been set up in such a way that the front overlooks the (currently) dry river bed. This will allow those who don’t feel like participating in morning/afternoon activities the opportunity to relax here and enjoy the view and the birdlife that populate the surrounding trees. The sides of this tent are able to be raised and lowered depending on the weather and even when lowered there are fine mesh windows that allow for a perfect viewing experience.

 

This public space has been broken up into several smaller seating areas. This means that guests can share the space but still have a feeling of privacy. In the background is the deck that will overlook the pool. Seeing that the camp holds a maximum of 8 guests, there will never be an issue of visitors feeling overcrowded.

 

Each 2-person tent has a private deck that overlooks the river bed. Tracks around camp have shown that despite the building activities, the staff have found hyena, leopard, as well as elephant tracks, confirming that even during the building operations, the resident wildlife continued to walk past on a regular basis.

Fun fact #56: I was told by the staff that despite the noise of the camp construction, a bull elephant was seen standing in the shade nearby, calmly eating while observing the workers!

Not what I remember as the tents used when I was in the Scouts or the Army. The 4 tents in this camp all offer similar interior design features and accommodation, as well as a large deck to relax on. If you enjoy yoga or meditation, then the deck is certainly a place that will be enjoyed.

 

What more do you need in a safari tent? The tents have been simply, yet tastefully decorated. Uncluttered and almost minimalistic, it is a functional and comfortable space. A supportive bed,  excellent linen, electricity and a ceiling fan add to the charm of the interior. With all the almost overwhelming views and the welcoming public areas, this became my quiet space. A place to unwind and to focus on nature and all that the surrounding bush had to offer.

 

Guests arriving at both the Klaserie Sands Safari Trails and the Klaserie Sands River Camp will find these Relate bracelets awaiting them as gifts. It is one way that these camps are doing their part for the social upliftment of various communities.

 

The indoor shower in my tent. It did take me a moment to figure out which was the hot tap but once I resolved that, the hot water and consistent water pressure from the geyser were most welcome. Especially in the early mornings, when it was still a bit chilly. There is also an outdoor shower, for those who wish to brave the elements.

Fun Fact #901: It is a requirement that each guest has to try the outdoor shower at least once. If you can prove that you have done it before a morning activity, in the dead of winter, then the first drink at dinner is on the house.

 

The current view(October) from part of the lounge. Although there are patches of green, the bush surrounding the camp is still dressed in its winter colours. However, once the rains come, all that will change. The views will be spectacular and the waterhole opposite should bring in plenty of game for the visitors to observe and enjoy.

 

This is the camp ‘stove’! Used with skill by Chef Steven to produce all of the meals we enjoyed during our stay. Including some of the best crispy bacon I have ever tasted!

 

A collage of some of the delicious meals that were served to us during our stay. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were all produced with the skill of a magician conjuring a rabbit from a hat. Considering that most of the cooking was done over an open fire, I was stunned and amazed by what Chef Steven was able to produce for breakfast, lunch and dinner, considering that his kitchen was a converted container and his oven a fire. Each meal was lovingly prepared and perfectly presented by him. More often than not, the description of each course was accompanied by a story plucked his vast repertoire of tales from his time in various parts of Africa. If you, like one of my colleagues, is a cook, then be prepared to share recipes and ingredients. Steven’s love for cooking is matched only by his relaxed and easy manner with both new and departing visitors.

The old adage “Arrive as strangers, leave as friends” certainly applies with Steven. It was hard to say goodbye and to leave his table, his food and his stories behind. “Muito obrigado por suas deliciosas refeições e suas histórias maravilhosas. Vou me lembrar dessa vez com gratidão, Steven”.

 

Just because guests are in the heart of the untamed African bushveld, it does not mean that quality has to be sacrificed. This table setting would be acceptable in any restaurant. I am not too sure if swans can be found in the bush, but the elephants were too big to fit in the wine glasses.

 

Sparks fly from the evening bonfire. This is NOT used for cooking and none of us had remembered to bring marshmallows with us. This kept us warm and toasty (unlike the non-existant marshmallows) until dinner was served. Post dinner this was the perfect place to relax with a beverage of choice and share bush stories and tales. A wonderful way to end off another day in the African bush.

 

Oh to have been in this camp when it was Full Moon. But as that was not the case, I had to make the best of what was on offer…

 

This video, by shot by owner Louis Rautenbach, encapsulates my recent visit. What is does is give potential guests a snippet of what they might experience when they visit this camp. Although this video was specifically about the press visit that I attended, all the activities are available to ‘regular’ future guests.

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