This was my third time visiting South Africa, I absolutely adore this country. It’s full of such vibrance, character and stunning natural scenery. I pick up my hire car in Johannesburg in the early morning and drove my way up North towards Kruger National Park and Sausage Tree Safari Camp, stopping at many famous landmarks including Gods Window, The Three Rondavels and Mac Mac Falls. I’ve done all of these sites before but they never get old as I drive through stunning scenery all around the Graskop area.
However, the highlight of my trip to South Africa had to be the safari and overall experience at Sausage Tree Safari Camp.
I stayed for a total of 3 nights at Sausage Tree Safari Camp, which in all honesty wasn’t enough, as I loved it so much, and left feeling like family to all the wonderful staff! With a total of just 5 luxury safari tents, it is definitely one of the most tranquil and secluded camps in Kruger, which just made the experience for me that bit more incredible.
Sausage Tree Safari Camp is situated within the Balule Conservancy, in the Greater Kruger National Park. All animals have free circulation throughout the whole area, and the Big 5 are a common appearance, so much so, I saw all 5 within my first two game drives! Another point to mention is that because Sausage Tree lies within a private game reserve only those staying in the camps within the conservancy are allowed to use the game park! The views over the dramatic hilltops, valleys and open plains provide breathtaking views of uninterrupted bush all the way to the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains.
The Camp itself is around 500km North-East of Johannesburg. You can either take a scenic 6 hour drive to the camp or catch a flight to Hoedspruit (the nearest town to the camp). But I would recommend hiring a car and driving up, as South Africa has some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen!
Sausage Tree Safari Camp Overview
Upon arriving at Sausage Tree Safari Camp it was apparent the effort they go into making each guests experience personal, welcoming and warm. I was greeted by Jimmy, our game driver who showed me to the main lounge, dining and pool area. The views from the veranda overlooking the bush were incredible, and throughout my stay we saw many game including giraffes, zebra, impala to name a few.
I was given a welcome drink and immediately felt at home and eager to head out on the game drives! Luckily I arrived before 4pm, which is when the afternoon game drive leaves. Below is an overview of the schedule that Sausage Tree Safari Camp runs on:
5:00am: Wake up
5:15am: Tea/coffee and biscuits
5:30am: Morning game drive
9:00/9:30am: Breakfast at camp
10:00am: Rest and relax
4:00pm Afternoon game drive
5:00pm: Drinks and snack on game drive
7:30pm: Return from game drive
You may be thinking, what the heck?! 5am?! But trust me, it is worth it and you get used to the timings very quickly! Nearly all safari camps will wake up at this time for the first game drive, purely because dawn and dusk are the best times to see game. Especially the Big 5!
As the mornings start so early, you have a huge amount of time to relax or catch up on your much needed sleep during the day before heading back out on a game drive. When you arrive back at camp, you will find your suite all turned down and perfected with a personal touch every morning and evening. Take a relaxing warm bubble bath after the mornings game drive! This became a daily ritual for me, and it was so relaxing!
Luxury Safari Tents
With just a total of 5 luxury safari tents at the camp, it is evident as soon as you arrive the extent they go to keeping your experience personal and memorable. All the tents feature an ensuite bathroom with a bath tub and outdoor shower. One time I was showering outside in the evening and could hear hyenas calling! Each tent also has its own veranda with chairs overlooking the river bed and bush, so keep an eye out for wildlife right at your doorstep.
Sleeping under a canvas in the bush was an incredible experience, having both the luxury of a king sized bed, eco air conditioning, and all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay including insect gauze on all the windows and doors keep the insects outside where they belong. Every evening I could hear the wildlife buzzing! It felt like I was on a real safari in the bush with the animals at my doorstep, it is definitely something I will never forget!
All 5 luxury tents are the same, so when you go to book, each room is the same price bracket and type.
Pool and Lounge Area
I spent most of my time up in the indoor and outdoor lounge area working on my tan and taking in the incredible views of the Drakensberg Mountains. There are plenty of comfy sun loungers, sofas and seats to accommodate guests, and nearly every time I had the area to myself, complete bliss!
As well as the veranda above with the pool, there is also a quiet sitting area underneath which is a great spot to have more relaxation, some yoga or shade from the midday sun.
The bar area is always open during the day and serves a vast array of local spirits and drinks as well as beer and first class South African wines. After every evening game drive you have a complimentary shot, which changes every day. I don’t usually like shots but can vouch they are very tasty!
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Another great initiative I love at Sausage Tree Safari Camp is how social they make the experience. All meals are served either around an open deck table with uninterrupted views of the bush and a water hole frequented by a variety of animals or under the stars, around the fire in their traditional styled ‘BOMA’.
Breakfast and lunch are usually more casual and served in the lounge area on a large table overlooking the bush whereas dinner (weather permitting) will be served around the fire.
A typical day of meals includes:
Breakfast: fresh fruit, fruit juice, yoghurt, fresh pastries, choice of an eggs any style, toast, sausage/bacon and tomato.
Lunch: Roast chicken, fish with a side like couscous and salad.
Dinner: Is a 3 course meal.
They change the menus, and no two nights will be the same.
The food was incredible and it all goes down to their chef Orlando who made the preparation of every dish first class. It was great being able to eat with all the other guests, sharing stories and getting to know one another. They cater for most special dietary requirements and go the extra mile to serve tasty, dietary dishes that are of the same standard as their ‘ordinary’ fare. So no need to worry about whether they can cater for you.
Now onto the most memorable and incredible part in my option, the Sausage Tree Safari Camp game drives! There are a total of two game drives per day, one at 5:30am and one at 4:00pm. You’ll head out in an open top LandCruiser safari vehicle for a good 3/4 hours tracking the Big 5. Whilst tracking, the 360 panoramic views are hard to beat, and this in itself was incredible to view.
I want to say a massive thank you to our incredible driver and tracker Jimmy and Polite! I still cannot believe how experienced and knowledgeable our guides were about everything to do with the animals, tracks, plants and even grass! They made the whole experience so fun, friendly and most importantly safe.
Within our first game drive and having only arrived a few hours before heading out on my first drive, I had already spotted 4 of the Big 5. With one of them being the elusive leopard! Previously having been to Kruger twice before this I hadn’t spotted one so this was incredible experience for myself! We only had one more left to track and that was the lion.
On every game drive we saw elephants, giraffes, zebras, buffalo and rhinos! On two game drives we saw leopards and lions. Unfortunately we never saw hyena, however I heard them most nights!
Every game drive was exciting, fun and informative. We managed to get so close to nearly every animal, and not once did I feel unsafe, as I knew we had the best tracker and driver.
For me, my most memorable experience was seeing the leopard on my first evening game drive. We tracked it for over half an hour, and although they are very timid and active at night we got to see a large male close up! How Polite, our tracker spotted the leopard sitting under a bush at night I have no idea! Absolutely incredible skills!
During sundown you’ll stop at a view point or safe spot to enjoy a drink and tasty snacks whilst watching the sunset over the mountains.
I also took part in a little walking safari down to the Olifant River, where we spotted over 20 hippos, and a few crocodiles! Later, our guide told us he found fresh lion tracks near our car!
Eco Friendly Initiative
In this day and age personally I believe it is so important to be eco friendly, and Sausage Tree are exactly that!
Here are a number of initiatives they take to remaining as eco friendly as possible:
They procure products and services locally as much as possible.
Adhere to a policy of clearing alien vegetation and controlling erosion and planting indigenous flora only.
They inform their guests about local, natural areas of interest, wildlife and conservation issues and local cultures.
Regularly donate to a selected number of rhino supported, local NPO organisations such as Rhino Revolution and Rocking 4 Rhinos and in particular the Black Mamba Anti Poaching Unit (based on our reserve) via Transfrontiers Africa.
They actively support and make donations to the nearby Daktari Bush School and Wildlife Orphanage, an NPO whose mission is to educate and inspire rural, underprivileged school children to care for their environment through the medium of a wildlife orphanage.
I want to say a massive thank you to everyone at Sausage Tree Safari Camp who made my stay absolutely incredible and so memorable, from the game drives to the cuisine to the welcome everything was perfect, and I couldn’t recommend this camp enough. Big thank you to James and Sonja who own such a beautiful camp!
I cannot recommend Sausage Tree Safari Camp enough if you are wanting a luxury experience but with a touch of real Africa and bush living as well as game drives that are first class with such friendly staff!
Don’t just take my word for it, lets just say their reviews on TripAdvisor are out of this world! Click here to view what others have said.
Check out their website: Sausage Tree Safari Camp
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Sausage Tree Safari Camp Review Disclosure: Sausage Tree gave me a three night complimentary stay. All reviews are my own honest opinion.