Immediately upon arriving at Hamilton’s Tented Camp , I was awestruck…

Spectacular Safari - Kruger National Park

Photo from here.

This “camp” was unlike any other I had previously experienced.  The lodge is decorated as a luxury safari lodge would have been in the 19th century, complete with brass candlesticks and chandeliers.

Spectacular Safari - Kruger National Park

Reception Area. Photo from here.

There are only 6 guest “tents” and every couple has their own private butler.  (Our butler was Ronnie – he told great jokes and treated us like royalty)!   The lodge didn’t come cheap, but was worth every penny.  What a way to experience an African safari!

Spectacular Safari - Kruger National Park

Inside the “tent” – photo from here.

Spectacular Safari - Kruger National Park

The lodge only has 6 tents, so you are given tons of personal attention! Photo from here.

Why did I choose Hamilton’s Tented Camp?

When initially planning the trip, I became overwhelmed at the amount of choices one has in a safari lodge.  There were options ranging from a couple hundred dollars up to several thousand dollars a night.  You can choose to stay in the park, on a private reserve or save money by choosing a lodge outside the park.   From the beginning, we decided that safari was worth the splurge.  I also knew that I wanted to stay in the part of the park where leopard sitings were most common because spotting “The Big Five” (elephant, rhino, leopard, lion and cape buffalo) in just three short days was a goal of mine.  I also wanted an intimate, adult-only camp since we were on our honeymoon.  After I decided on these parameters, I researched, researched, researched – reading everything I could about safari and checking reviews on several dozen lodges.  Luckily, all my research paid off – we couldn’t have enjoyed our time at Hamilton’s more!

The staff at Hamilton’s was kind enough to upgrade us to the “best tent” out of them all.  Our tent (and outdoor shower) overlooked the watering hole where a hippopotamus and crocodile took up permanent residence (along with many other critters who passed through)!

Spectacular Safari - Kruger National Park

View from our tent window.

I loved drinking wine in our bathtub which overlooked the hippo splashing around in his watering hole – an experience I won’t soon forget!

So, what do you do on Safari?

A typical day on Safari while a guest at Hamilton’s includes an early morning (5:00am-ish) wake-up call to start the day.  Because it is dark and you are, quite literally, in the wilderness, your butler escorts you from your tent to the main dining tent where a lovely breakfast is waiting.  After your breakfast, your morning safari begins.

Spectacular Safari - Kruger National Park

Unlike many of the other lodges, Hamilton’s provides a near private safari experience.  During our stay, we were never in a truck with more than two other people, allowing you and your partner to view wildlife from all angles of the open air vehicle, rather than being stuffed in four persons deep like many of the other lodges’ vehicles I saw pass by us.

Spectacular Safari - Kruger National Park

We had the safari truck to ourselves!

Words can’t describe how amazing and exciting it was to see wild animals in their natural habitat.

After the morning drive, the guide would bring us back to the lodge for lunch where we sampled local fare such as springbok or kudzu.  After lunch, you have downtime to relax, nap, swim in the pool or get an outdoor massage.  If you’re feeling really ambitious, the lodge offers bush/walking safaris.

After a few hours of free time, the evening safari begins – which was my personal favorite.  At dusk, your safari guide stops the vehicle and sets up snacks, beer and wine for you to consume while you watch the sunset.  I agree with the saying that you haven’t experienced a sunset until you’ve seen one in Africa!

Spectacular Safari - Kruger National Park

One of my most memorable safari experiences was during our sunset drink stop.  Our guide stopped the vehicle on a cliff overlooking the bush.   While sipping our wine, we were able to watch a mother rhino with her baby graze below us.

After the evening safari, we were warmly welcomed back to the lodge by the staff singing traditional African folk songs… one night there was even a brandy tasting waiting for us!

So, did we see The Big Five? 

We sure did – in one day!  (Which I’m told isn’t necessarily typical for Kruger).

Spectacular Safari - Kruger National Park

We saw many elephants, everywhere, everyday.

Spectacular Safari - Kruger National Park

Although we had multiple rhino sightings, the rhinos were surprisingly quick and agile.  So quick it was tough to get great shots of them.  We were also told that the rhinos had become extremely skiddish due to the recent increase in illegal poaching in the park.

Spectacular Safari - Kruger National Park

Despite the fact that leopard sightings are very rare, we spotted four or five of these large cats.

Spectacular Safari - Kruger National Park

The lions actually took us the longest to find.  But once we finally stumbled upon one, we found several from the same pride.

Spectacular Safari - Kruger National Park

The Cape Buffalo were plentiful.  We probably saw dozens of them in the three days we were on safari.

I attribute our “luck” to our amazing safari guide, Sebastian.  Not only was he knowledgeable and a great story-teller, he was fantastic at tracking the animals.

Aside from The Big Five, we saw a plethora of other animals.   Here are a few of my other favorites:

Spectacular Safari - Kruger National Park

I’m not a much of a bird watcher, but with colors like this, they were hard to ignore!

Spectacular Safari - Kruger National Park

The Zebras were beautiful and moved gracefully.

Spectacular Safari - Kruger National Park

The giraffes were fabulously fun to watch!

Our time on safari with Hamilton’s Tented Camp was easily one of my top travel experiences, and I would recommend the experience to any one of my friends.  The staff was warm and friendly, and went out of their way to make us feel welcome and comfortable.  I hope to return to Hamilton’s in the future for our anniversary!

 Have you been on safari?  What did you think?

This post is part of a series on South Africa.  Click here to read more about my time on safari, what to do in Cape Town, my time in the Winelands and to find out whether I enjoyed whale watching and diving with great white sharks!

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