Latest News - On the trail of the Big Five

2012/01/02

Chris Thurman visits Exeter River Lodge in the Sabi Sand private game reserve in South Africa's Mpumalanga province, and has a bush experience different to any that he's enjoyed before. There are those who will tell you that it doesn't matter how you spend your time in the African bush, or where you stay – it's enough simply to be there. To some degree, this is true; certainly, no matter what your accommodation and game-viewing is like, it's better than being in the office.

After only a few hours at Exeter River Lodge in the Sabi Sand private game reserve, however, I couldn't help reflecting that it was different to any bush experience I'd enjoyed before. It wasn't just that our luxuriously appointed room looked out onto the Sand River, giving us a view of buffalo crossing the water or baboons loping down to the shore. It wasn't just that the ever-available but never-intrusive staff treated us like royalty. It wasn't just the food, or the wine, or the afternoon teas. It wasn't the private plunge pool, the masseuse, the quirky collection of books or any of the other distractions to while away the day.

Over and above these pleasures, the highlights of the trip were the morning and evening game drives. A good game ranger is many things: a raconteur, a sturdy outdoorsman or woman, a walking encyclopaedia of information about animal, bird and plant life.