My second and third nights in Kruger were spent at the Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge, one of the aforementioned privately-owned reserves that shares a fenceless boundary with public land. Sabi Sabi is apparently a hotbed for wildlife due to a relative abundance of water in the area, and as a result it’s one of the more popular (and expensive) private lodges.
We arrived late in the day, and I myself was feeling “fenced in” by the strict controls on my mobility—throughout the park there are justifiably strict rules about not wandering anywhere outside of protected areas (e.g. car, room, fenced-in campground) without the protection of a guide. So I drove our rental car to the park’s boundary in order to go for a lovely run, which was highlighted by a family of elephants that was “grazing” just on the other side of the fence, which for elephants means knocking mature trees down in order to eat the leaves. When I returned to the lodge for dinner I was told by an excited Adél that they saw a pair of lions during the game drive, one of which walked within two feet of the Land Cruiser. That sounded nice but I was content with my decision—I never feel truly connected to a place until I experience it through my own lungs, heart, and muscles.
At dinner I met our assigned ranger, KG (a nickname that is much easier to pronounce than his actual Zulu name), and a couple in their sixties from Newport Beach, CA, who we’d been matched up with for our stay. I immediately took a liking to Dede, who had a hip and lively California vibe about her, and to her husband Howard, whose endless stories and joking made our table the most laugh-filled at every meal. Our dinner table was lavished with seemingly endless courses of delicious, creative, regional food. Everything about the meal—the food, the service, the ambience, and the company—was top notch.