With Narina Lodge, the trailblazing More family, has created what feels like a supremely luxurious and exotic treehouse in an exclusive section of the world-famous Kruger National Park. This pearl of Africa is perched on the southern bank of the iconic Sabie River – suspended beneath trees which have more than 100 years of Kruger memories embedded in their gnarled bark. Whether you choose to soak in your secluded bath, windows open to the river below, a flock of spoonbills feeding in the shallows or explore the Kruger concession on foot, Narina will surpass any expectations you may have had.
The main lodge
The magnificence of the open-plan lounge and dining deck is perfectly blended into the lush green banks of the river shaded by fig, ivory and jackalberry giants. For chilly winter nights, there is an enormous stone-clad fire place for you to warm your bones, a glass of peaty single malt glowing in the firelight. In the summer, the ever changing songs of the bushveld will be the constant backdrop to exquisite meals under the depthless blue sky of the morning and the spray of starlight at night – bulbuls, bees and the gentle breeze at breakfast; owls, hyaenas, frogs and lions at dinner.
The nine Narina suites, linked by suspended wooden walkways, are private sanctuaries of sublime luxury and design brilliance. The bathtubs lie beneath huge glass windows suspended over the river. The experience of luxuriating in the bath while a herd of elephants, lit by the full moon, splashes in the river below is complete transcendence.
You can rest on your bed while keeping an eye out for the animals feeding on the riverbank before the soft succour and night music lull you to restful sleep. In the opulent lounge, you can drink your favourite pre-dinner tipple while reading one of Africa’s tales of adventure.
Each Narina suite has an expansive wooden deck centred on a private plunge pool. A cooling soak in the heat of the midday, a gin and tonic at your side, a buffalo bull chewing in the deep shade below, a flock of green pigeons squabbling over figs in the boughs above, will immerse you in the wilderness until you feel like a part of it – which of course you are.
Food and service
The sophisticated, flavoursome African cuisine at Narina is renowned by foodies. The delicious meals combined with a level of friendly, authentic service that always exceeds expectations gives you the quintessential African hospitality experience. For families, the Narina staff are superbly equipped to entertain kids over ten with bush activities and games while parents rest or enjoy a wellness treatment in the comfort and seclusion of their own suite.
The Kruger wilderness
The 5 000ha concession that Narina traverses is one of the most game-rich areas in the 2.2 million hectare Greater Kruger National Park. Out on game drive in the Kruger dawn, you might see a pack of wild dog course through the woodland in search of impala – a clan of hyaena, looking for a cheap meal, not far behind. Statuesque spiral-horned kudu bulls scan for danger from the atop termite mounds while troops of dwarf mongoose emerge from their burrows to warm in the early rays. Come the evening, you might see the spotted golden flash of a confiding leopard going about her hunting, oblivious of your game drive vehicle. You highly-skilled ranger and tracker will interpret her behaviour for you and place you in the best possible position for photography. This Kruger concession is also one of the best places in South Africa to see the endangered black rhino.
If you are feeling adventurous, your ranger and tracker will take you out on foot where you will see some of the smaller but equally important parts of the Kruger ecology and you might be lucky enough to see some larger animals – perhaps an elephant bull. Viewing one of these great giants from the vantage of the ground is a tear-jerking and humbling experience.