I had no expectations when I first arrived at Kirkman’s Camp. Yes, I knew it was a safari lodge, that it was one of the best, and that it would surely be hot and sticky – it being summer. However, somehow knowing the price tag and viewing the photographs online had not prepared me for a level of luxury I had yet to experience in this life. It all began with the double hand wave…
When we arrived on that casual Wednesday afternoon, in shorts and a t-shirt, a little tired after driving two hours from Nelspruit, I was mostly thinking about having a shower and drinking something cold, like a coke with some ice. However, when we were greeted by a group of staff in uniform, all smiling and waving at us with both hands, complete with refresher towels on a tray, and then proceeded to direct us to the perfect welcome drink (ice-cold, homemade lemonade) I realised I had been quite ignorant as to what to expect.
What was even more ridiculous to me was when I later realised that they do this to every guest, every day! Coming or going I think it is a lodge policy that you get this double hand wave. It seems that just one hand will not suffice. The reason I labour this point is that I think it is symbolic for the lodge’s philosophy: if you are to do something for this guest do it well. Incredibly well. This was probably no more evident than with their meals. All eight of them. Daily. (Yes, that is one every two hours or so!) Let me try and break that down for you…
- 05:00 – Pre-game drive breakfast snack, coffee or tea et al
- 30 – Mid-game drive snack, coffee, tea, amarula and hot chocolate…
- 30 – Post-game drive buffet breakfast, croissants, juices, eggs, meats, crumpets, fruit, you name it, they’ll do it
- 13:00 – No game drive lunch, again exquisite, filling, exorbitant, delicious
- 16:00 – Pre-game drive high tea: cakes, pastries, iced tea, coffee et al
- 19:30 – Mid-game drive sundowner: G&T’s and luxury snacks et al
- 20:30 – Post-game drive drinks and snacks at the bar
- 21:00 – Finally, dinner, just in case you’re not full yet
I wrote ‘et al’ a lot, and that is because not only was there a lot more that I could mention in this blog post, but we did indeed eat a lot of food! This was just the food and drinks aspect of the trip, never mind the room service, the game drives, the 800 thread-count cotton sheets, the gorgeous bath with a view of the Sand River and the elephants having a bath of their own.
I would say the highlights of this safari trip were the many delicious meals and exhilarating game drives – somewhat likely because that is how we spent 75% of our waking hours – but it is sometimes those small things that make an already amazing trip incredible. Midday swims in the infinity pool overlooking the river, a well-stocked bar fridge that is replenished probably thrice daily, a personal hand-written note from the manager ensuring we were enjoying ourselves, and generous amounts of air-conditioning in the suite!
All in all, I had never expected such lavish living, such treatment as if royalty, and yet such a simple existence. And perhaps therein lies the secret to Kirkman’s success: that while you’re busy enjoying a break from the city and the busyness of life, behind the scenes over a hundred staff are scurrying around to ensure your time with them is unforgettable. In fact, if I close my eyes, I can still bring to memory all the staff double-waving to me right now.
About the author:
Mike is an avid traveller and a real estate photographer based in Cape Town, South Africa. Mike loves writing, photography and experiencing unique moments in life. You can see more of Mike’s real estate photography here.