For travellers looking for a luxurious safari experience and who are passionate about elephants in particular, Camp Jabulani, part of the Relais & Chateaux portfolio, offers the very best of both worlds.
Located a five hour drive from Jo’burg (or a 1 hour hop by air) and owned by Adine Roode (who also founded the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre), this fabulous five star lodge is named after the orphaned baby elephant she rescued after it had been abandoned by its herd at just 3 months of age.
FOOD AND SERVICE
The food, alongside the service, enchants. Homemade bread is baked every day, whilst the chef personally takes guests orders to ensure every specific need is meticulously met. A special mention goes to the cranberry French toast and incredible desert section. This is, without doubt, one of the best camp kitchens in South Africa, and beyond.
Built on the banks of a seasonal stream, surrounded by leadwood trees on a 16,000 hectare Big 5 Game Reserve, Camp Jabulani’s communal areas (featuring a large comfortable lounge and fireplace, dining room, boutique, wine cellar & dining area and also the boma) are linked to the 6 spacious suites by a suspension bridge. On this side of the bridge you will also find the small gym and natural spa offering a wide range of treatments using locally sourced products.
Attended by a private butler and beautifully designed – chandeliers and African art – the suites are best described as African chic, with their adobe walls, hide rugs, large stone fireplaces in the lounges and glass encased showers in the bathroom. Each suite includes an outdoor deck with splash pool, and the 6 buildings are spaced far enough apart to be completely out of sight from one another, allowing total privacy.
In addition, the Zindoga Presidential Suite is also available. Opened in September 2009 and named after the first male born to the camp’s herd in 2007, Zindoga (meaning on its own) offers two luxury areas specifically designed for smaller groups and families with children of all ages. The suite is booked on an exclusive basis to 6 guests with the possibility of accommodating 2 additional children on request. To ensure the highest level of services, the suite also boasts its own dedicated chef and team of staff.
While there’s a wealth of daily activities on offer at Jabulani including game drives, bird watching, guided bush walks, hot air ballooning, helicopter flights at an additional cost, and visits to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, it’s the elephant interaction and the animals themselves that make the stay. Just watching the elephants play in their pool for an hour or so is a real treat.
The Jabulani Elephant Experience affords Camp Jabulani guests the opportunity to meet and spend time with the herd. Highlights of the experience include meeting the elephants close up and hearing their stories, watching playful splashing and spraying during the midday swim, tracking the herd on foot in their own territory, and participating in field research.
The Camp Jabulani Elephant Experience is a very personal and highly immersive interaction, where man and elephant meet one another on equal terms.
The First Meeting:
This first interaction, directly at the Lodge, is always a very powerful one where emotive bonds are instantly made. During this interaction, visitors have the opportunity to touch and feed the elephants, and to have photographs taken in very close proximity.
Following Gigantic Footsteps:
Elephant tracking – Guests will join a senior trails guide, a senior elephant keeper and their ranger to track the Jabulani elephants within the Big Five Kapama Private Game Reserve. Once the herd have been located, the afternoon is spent watching them and hearing more about the their individual stories, their personalities and how to identify them.
Sunset and Goodnight:
The stable experience – Guests meet up with the elephant herd as they enjoy their last drink at the dam at sunset and follow the elephants back to the elephant camps to bid them good night.
Getting In The Know:
Elephant research in practice – Did you know that an elephant’s stress levels can be established and monitored through its dung? During this unique part of the experience, guests get to participate in field research.
- Merging nature and architecture
- Camp Jabulani and its suites were designed around the trees, instead of cutting them down to clear the area.
- Much of the wood used within the Camp Jabulani camp is from dead leadwood logs.
- When grasses in the bush are cut around the camp (to prevent veld fires), the cuttings are used for the elephant herd as fodder
- Intensive Bush clearing programs are practiced. All Combretum branches are used in the stables as fodder for the elephants
- The staff quarters at Camp Jabulani were largely constructed from recycled materials taken from a mine in the area which was closed.
- Dung and branches left in the stables each morning are collected and dumped in erosion trenches which assist in preventing rain damage, and in generally rehabilitating the area.
- Dung beetles are kept busy. Dung beetles are excellent indicators of the health of a biosphere, due to their narrow habitat tolerance and their complex assemblage structure.
- Any used oil from vehicles are collected in drums, and delivered to a service provider who refines the oil and delivers the “recycled oil”, called “Cutterbar lube” to chain saw dealers. Camp Jabulani buys this oil to power our chainsaws used in the bush clearing programs.
- The Roode family recreated a balanced system without any negative impact on the natural resources and inhabitants.
- The reserve is home to a variety of different ecosystems.
- A Wildlife & Nature Management Plan (WNMP) compiled by the Range Forage Institute (RFI) has been implemented.
- Camp Jabulani / Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC)
- A water treatment facility has been installed to ensure that water from the Klaserie River is sufficiently treated for the purpose of human consumption.
- A Groundwater and Surface Water Monitoring Plan has been established with the objective of identifying pollution and irregularities
- Eighty percent of our staff are employed from the local community.
- Environmental Awareness Programmes Amongst Staff
- An environmental education programme is implemented by the staff and all labourers on site in terms of relevant environmental issues.
- Waste Management
- Recycling of waste materials is strongly supported, and organic waste is handled as follows:
- Bones and meat not used for feeding the cheetahs, wild dogs, etc at the Hoedpsruit Endangered Species Centre are used for feeding the vultures at the HESC’s “Vulture Restaurant”
- Precautionary methods are implemented for the storage and handling of chemical substances that could impact on the soils, ground- and surface water