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 30 minute hop by air) and owned by Lente 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.
‘Jabulani’ (isiZulu for happiness) and 11 other elephants (saved from a game farm in Zimbabwe) are also accommodated nearby and are very much part of the life of a camp famous for its day and night-time elephant back safaris.
Built on the banks of a seasonal stream, surrounded by leadwood trees on a 10,000 hectare Big 5 Game Reserve, Jabulani Camp consists of a main building – featuring a large comfortable lounge with fire place, dining room (the food at Jabulani is superb), curio shop, sauna, small gym and a very decadent La Prairie Spa – alongside 6 luxurious suites all with air-con and en suite facilities.
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. Booked on an exclusive basis to a maximum of 6 guests, with 2 adults in one part and 2 adults with 2 children in the other, 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, clay pigeon shooting, hot air ballooning and visits to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, it’s the elephant safaris 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. For safaris, guests are seated on comfortable saddles and are led through the bush by an experienced handler. Viewing game from close proximity is all the more possible as the elephants move silently, in single file. Afternoon safaris culminate with a wonderful touch of luxury as lanterns are lit, sundowners poured and delicious canapés served just before sunset.
ECO-FRIENDLY PRACTICES IMPLEMENTED TO ENSURE A SUSTAINABLE USE OF NATURAL RESOURCES IN THE ECO-TOURISM MARKET
1. 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.
– Architecture incorporates and in fact focuses on natural elements from the environment, such as marula pits and stones.
– 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 eco gardens are largely sustainable without human intervention.
– 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 chain saws 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) has been compiled by the Range Forage Institute (RFI) has been implemented.
5. Camp Jabulani / Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC)
– Water :
o Sewerage dams were introduced to all the camp sites and staff quarters. This reduces the risk of underground water being polluted by human debris.
o A water treatment facility has been installed to ensure that water from the Klaserie River is sufficiently treated for the purpose of human consumption.
o A Groundwater and Surface Water Monitoring Plan has been established with the objective of identifying pollution and irregularities.
o Rain water is collected
– In the kitchens, the staff tries to maximize the use of organic ingredients.
– Eighty percent of our staff is employed from the local community.
– The HESC prides itself on its education outreach programme, where learners from around the country are given the opportunity of learning more about conservation – understanding the necessity for everyone to be involved in “Ensuring our Tomorrow”.
6. 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.
7. Waste Management – Recycling of waste materials is strongly supported – 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