Cool Hotels: Kapama Karula, South Africa

In my ongoing series, I highlight cool and interesting hotels that I’ve encountered throughout the world.

There’s something that I didn’t realize until I was just a few minutes away from arriving at Kapama Karula:  it would really be the place where I would stay for the next five days – as in there, literally, wouldn’t be anywhere else for me go to in the five days that I would be at the Kapama Private Game Reserve in northwestern South Africa.   The hotel is located a 20 minute drive from the gates of the reserve and, once your in, you won’t be going anywhere without being escorted by a shotgun-wielding escort.   This makes skipping out to the local pub or corner store a bit difficult.

Luckily this luxury “camp” is first class all the way.  And while there are several other lodges located within the Kapama Reserve, this is the most private and exclusive.  At the time that I was there, the entire facility consisted of only seven tents.  They have since added five luxury suites.  This means that you will get to know your campmates and staff quite well, since you’ll be spending 6 hours on safari with them each day, in addition to one communal dinner each evening.  This, however, makes for a very interesting time, as South Africa tends to attract people from every other corner of the earth.

The private tents are climate controlled and include king-size beds, dual vanaties, soaking tubs and a beautiful outdoor shower (which might welcome from monkey visitors from time to time).    Located on the banks of the Klaserie River, you can sometimes hear the roar of male lions at night and witness a variety of different game come very close to the edge of the camp.

(You can click on any photo to see a larger version on Flickr)

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The common facilities are equally as beautiful, including a beautiful dining room, several sitting areas, a wonderful bar and and lap pool.

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All in all, the Kapama Karula experience is the first class all the way.  The food is superb and abundant, the staff is friendly and the game reserve, itself, is filled withe everything you’d expect to see in a top-notch South African game reserve.

As mid-season rates approach 6000 ZAR per double room per night (as of this writing, about US$740/nt, before tax and gratuity), it may not exactly be roughing it in the bush, but it’s certainly worth every penny.

A full set of photos from my Kapama experience can be viewed in my Flickr photo set.

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