Considering a safari in South Africa? Definitely look at Klaserie Sands River Camp in Greater Kruger!
When we were booking our trip to South Africa, Dane and I both knew we wanted a safari portion, especially since we would be so close to some of the most beautiful nature reserves and parks in the world. We looked at SO. MANY. CAMPS. and SO. MANY. PARKS. — To be completely honest it all became very overwhelming. We settled on Klaserie Sands River Camp in Greater Kruger and today I’m sharing all about our experience and what you can expect if you book!
South Africa Safari: Klaserie Sands River Camp
First things first – Klaserie Sands actually has two camps — Klaserie Sands River Camp and Klaserie Sands Safari Trails. We chose the River Camp, which is more of a luxury boutique lodge, while the Safari Trails camp is more of an off-the-grid experience with a focus on immersion into wildlife.
Luxury Safari Lodge In South Africa
The River Camp is situated in Greater Kruger within Klaserie Private Nature Reserve and features four suites that accommodate a maximum of eight guests at a time. This was a major selling point to us when booking!
The lodge itself features a dining room, large bar, outdoor fire pit and pool with a deck for sunbathing. It’s definitely a luxury lodge, but we found the prices to be commensurate with experience. For example, we stayed over Valentine’s Day and they set up a special sundowner, decorated our rooms and gave us a bottle of champagne to enjoy.
Every day, your driver will come knock on your door at 5AM for your wake-up call and the group leaves at around 5:30AM for the morning drive and departs around 4:30 for the evening game drive. Don’t miss my Greater Kruger Photo Diary for a peek at all the incredible wildlife we saw!
The food was a mix of family-style dining and individual meals, which Dane and I both thought was great. We loved the family-style dining and the braai (more on that later), because it gave us a chance to hang out with the staff more. They are all so cool with fascinating histories (how they came to be guides, craziest wildlife encounters, etc) and just generally really fun to be around.
What We Loved About Klaserie Sands
Sunrises. There is nothing better than a sunrise in Africa (anywhere) and Klaserie Sands did not disappoint!
There was air conditioning in our room, which sounds like SUCH a luxury item and I’ll be honest — it is. But after an insanely hot day on game drives or a steamy rainy afternoon, that air felt pretty dang amazing. It also rained every day during our stay creating a pretty muggy atmosphere that drew out the bugs, so it was nice to be able to close the doors and relax in the cool air.
Rooms at Klaserie Sands
Because the camp is so small, it had a super boutique/exclusive feel. Every staff member knew your name and preferences and it honestly just felt like a family getting together every night, not guests from all over the world vacationing.
Klaserie Sands has a gym. There is a joke on safari that you wake up, go on a game drive, eat, sleep, go on a game drive, eat, drink and sleep. Wash, rinse, repeat. So, you can imagine how you might feel on day two or three when all you feel like you’re doing is eating 😉 We used the spin bikes every single day!
The toiletries. Klaserie stocks Charlotte Rhys toiletries (refillable so as not to cause more plastic waste), which are vegan and cruelty free bath/body products. I always pay close attention to toiletries when we travel (particularly conditioner), because I have knotty hair, so good ones always catch my eye. Plus, these smelled amazing!
The pool. What an amazing way to cool down on some of the hottest afternoons during our trip! It helped that the elephants came right to the watering hole so you could have a swim, a cocktail and a view of elephants all at once!
The braai, or family BBQ. South Africans love a braai, which is their term for BBQ, but I’ve been told that braai specifically means to cook over open fire, not on a grill, and goes beyond a traditional American BBQ. After experiencing one at the camp for myself, I can agree. It was complete with a Klipies and Coke, which is a standard college drink we had heard stories about and got to enjoy thanks to the owner Louis mixing some up.
Some Points Worth Noting
You’re in the Bush, so things can be unpredictable. One night Dane was going to the bathroom and a Solifugae crawled across his foot and chased him right off the toilet. These suckers can MOVE and they aren’t small. Another night our electricity went out when the generator tried to kick on thanks to country-wide load shedding and showering in the pitch dark was a little tricky. Sometimes things happen, and it wasn’t make or break for the trip and we just rolled with it.
Everyone at the camp shares a car and you spend a good chunk of time with the people, so try to make friends with them. Some of the best people we’ve met while traveling have been on safari!
Let the staff know before you arrive about any dietary restrictions or allergies. They do a really great job of accommodating!
The pool deck is what connects all the rooms to one another on the side we were on, so it’s easy to walk the whole way around camp, which is great. One guest during our stay loved watching the birds, so he would sit on the deck outside our room every afternoon and take photos of birds coming to the water. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but felt weird since the sliding doors are floor-to-ceiling windows and he could easily see right into our room and vice versa.
The weather for our stay wasn’t great. It rained heavily for a good chunk of our visit and the river even started flowing in front of camp (very cool to see, but not great for game drives), so I was really glad we packed our rain gear and would recommend it for anyone going on safari. That said, the Klaserie staff took one of the rainy days and planned a side trip to the local game museum and it was FABULOUS. I appreciate a good museum, but I wouldn’t say I’m overly enthused by them, so for me to say this was a trip highlight is a big deal. I highly recommend it if you encounter not-so-great weather.
Would We Go Back To Klaserie Sands?
100% yes. The people are what make Klaserie so special and I would travel all the way from Honolulu to South Africa just to be in their company! We loved so much about South Africa (even with the hiccups of our trip overall!) and so much of that was our time spent at Klaserie Sands. If you’re looking for a luxury lodge in Greater Kruger, this is it!