A Review by the Secret Adventurer
We were recently privileged to host renowned adventurer, Henk Brand, of the Secret Adventurer for a stay at both Klaserie Sands River Camp and Klaserie Sands Safari Trails. His review and his immediate connections to both of our beloved lodges blew us away.
Klaserie Sands | Safari Experience
October 28, 2019
“The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa – for he has so much to look forward to.”
— Richard Mullin (Origin unknown)
I haven’t been in the proper bosveld for years. To be honest, as a real Capie, I haven’t put foot there since school days. Freelance writer Brian Jackman so aptly describes falling in love with the bush as follows: “… everything in Africa bites, but the safari bug is worst of all…” I can now testify, he is not wrong.
I had the wonderful opportunity to fly down to Klaserie Sands, located in the heart of the Greater Kruger. They have just completed their brand new Safari Trails Camp and invited a few guests to come and experience the place first hand. Tough job, poor sod, life’s hard…but hey, someone gotta do it!
These days, the journey from Cape Town into the heart of the bushveld is far easier that what I remember - back in the day, flying wasn’t even an option, so it was frikadelle and hard boiled eggs as we embarked on the long way up. These days, it’s a hop, skip and a jump, and you are in Hoedspruit. The plane is tiny, yes, but that’s the perfect start to any epic adventure…. and as we touched down, I could all ready tell we were now in bosveld country.
Arriving at Klaserie Sands River Camp, you start to understand why people say that Africa is not a place, but a mindset. This camp will make you feel overjoyed to be alive, and incredibly humbled by the team that built it up from nothing. Here, you have to reset your clock to Africa time, in fact, be done with all the “stuff” that weighs you down… leave them at the door before you enter. Here, you don’t set the pace, you become part of the daily rhythm of bushveld life… and what a life it is. I was very tempted to ask if there’s space for one more on their incredible team, because to be welcomed in such a manner, felt more like a homecoming to long lost family than anything else, a place where everyone is valued and made to feel extra special. So all that was left to do on day one was a sunset safari drive, finished off with a drink of choice at exactly gin o’clock.
But first a few musings regarding our sunset game drive. Musing 1: elephants always have the right of way, and when a huge herd decides to cross the road, you sit back and wait. Musing 2: we are not fluent in the language of nature, but some people have dedicated their lives to try and listen and to understand, the people at Klaserie, are some of those people. Musing 3: a leopard may not change his spots, but to spot one, in one of its favourite spots with a kill, never gets old!
Safari Trails camp is the newest addition to the Klaserie Sands portfolio and the main reason that brought me here. And when I say ‘here’, I literally mean the middle of nowhere. You can see all the effort and passion that went into building this camp. The lounge is situated in the middle of a beautiful custom designed tent that allows the breeze to drift in and out, providing welcome relief from the midday heat. The furniture and items were clearly curated by an expert eye to fit and fill every space, never jarring or distracting from the real star of the show, namely the bush. It’s effortless safari-chic.
The thing that got me most excited was the upcoming safari walk… where, just like the tented camp, you are not protected by any fences, or within the safety of a vehicle - it’s you and the bush, one one one. ..beautifully described by the team of Klaserie Sands as the following:
“A walking safari is a physical reminder of what’s truly important. Immersed in untouched nature, a serene setting devoid of all digital distractions, you can feel the relaxation seeping in. You start to take cognisance of your senses - the tickle of long grass, the acoustics of birdsong, the fizzle of your drink as it quenches your thirst. Your days will begin at pre-dawn, with a homemade rusk and coffee before setting out with your expert field guides and trackers. As a group, you’ll explore the magnificent and diverse terrain over the course of 3 to 4 hours, tracking game, observing the abundant birdlife and learning about the area’s rich flora and fauna.”
So you can understand my excitement when 5h00 the next morning finally arrived... with coffee and rusks in hand, the prep talk for the exciting walking safari commenced. These were the rules our lead guide, Matthew Plaistowe, clearly laid down:
Listen to all the commands of the lead trail guide.
Never ever run. Never.
Walk behind the rifle.
Walk in a single line, always behind the lead guide and tracker.
No noise, keep silent.
What followed was a masterclass in trekking spoor, guiding and teaching others about the bush - these guides are world class, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled to get the information lowdown and knowledge from Matthew. He has been guiding for 10 years and literally knows every single bird, spoor, tree, coupled with a really great gut intuition. There was a moment where we had to calmly follow him and climb up the river back as he sensed we were in the territory of a looming predator. Just by listening to the sounds of nature and the calls of the birds, he can make a crucial decision to ensure the safety of all on the walking safari.
This is definitely a bucket list experience for any traveller. If you are ready for a bush adventure in the Kruger, Klaserie Sands is your destination. Thank you to the awesome team at Klaserie Sands: Louis, Lee-Anne, Ashley, Matthew for the opportunity to have experienced this and off course, to becoming great friends.
I cannot wait to be back!