Staying at Makuwa Safari Lodge for relaxing evenings by the fire & mornings close to Kruger

If you want to unwind in South Africa, Makuwa Lodge is a special type of paradise. It’s the ideal place to stay close to Kruger, too: it’s in the Greater National Park and just twenty minutes to the Orpen gate.

Where you’ll find the food. Image by Makuwa Lodge.

I stayed here as part of my recent trip around South Africa and Swaziland with Sunway Safaris, which is now available on Fair Voyage. I had an incredible time, so if you have any questions about the trip, fire them my way!

While I loved Zululand Lodge to bits, Makuwa Safari Lodge was on an equal footing. They were brilliant in different ways. While Zululand is a real escape into the depths of the KwaZulu Natal bush, Makuwa is incredibly welcoming, designed for easygoing luxury, and you definitely won’t be uncomfortable during your stay.

The beds are amazing, the team’s hospitality is incredible (Charel and Mich are awesome), and you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a cosy place to curl up with a book after a long day’s safari.

The evenings are probably the best part about Makuwa. For one: dinner. Food is one of Makuwa’s highlights and you’ll certainly be well fed. On our first night, we had a delicious curry inspired by Durban’s rich Indian heritage. On the second night, we enjoyed a traditional braai (including a version for the annoying vegetarian = me) followed by pannacotta for dessert.

Image by Makuwa Lodge.
Sunset by the pool at Makuwa.

The evenings might get chilly in late summer, but South Africans are prepared for this. After dinner, head down to the fire with a cup of hot rooibos and get to know your hosts and co-travellers a little better.

Image by Makuwa Lodge.
Sunset with a view of the Drakensberg Mountains on the horizon.

When you start dozing off, you have a very cosy bed to look forward to. If you’re lucky, someone from the Makuwa team will have been in to make your bed, turn your evening lights on, and put the mosquito nets down for you… and give you a shweetie (one of my favourite Afrikaans words).

Image by Makuwa Lodge.
My room at Makuwa, where I slept incredibly soundly both nights.

While you’re staying at Makuwa, wildlife isn’t just reserved for your day safaris in Kruger. Head out on a bush walk to meet the locals –– zebra, nyala, buffalo, kudu, and maybe even some elephant, wild dogs, or leopard.

Out in the bush, guided by Char from Makuwa.

If you have a bit of downtime in the early afternoons or evenings, wander over to Makuwa’s library room and take your choice of comfy seat. Look out for a beautiful hardback book on the Okavango – I spent so much time looking through it – or enjoy some of the other books I only had a chance to glance at.

Get cosy in Makuwa’s library room.

And there’s always a chance to relax by the pool, of course, or out on the porch by your room.

Cool down in the pool. Image by Makuwa Lodge.

Using Makuwa as your base for a day in Kruger

This was my first time in South Africa, so I was visiting Kruger Park with fresh eyes, too. We headed out for our game drive early, after filling our tummies at a 05:00 breakfast (which was far too delicious for so early in the morning). It was then a twenty-minute drive to the park’s Orpen gate and a few minutes for the required paperwork.

Mobile-quality sunrise from the truck on the drive into Kruger.

Before we got into the main part of the park, we were already treated to a hint of what was to come (I saw giraffes for the first time! They really are so beautiful and other-worldly).

Giraffe on the way into Kruger.

In Kruger Park itself, you know what to look out for: elephants, rhinos, lions, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, wild dogs… and of course the elusive leopard and cheetah.

Not my favourite animal, still good to see the guy though.
A lilac breasted roller. This was probably the 100th moment I was kicking myself for not packing my zoom lens, but it also helped me just sit back and take it in.

Grab your passport, South Africa is calling

Before flying out, I wasn’t really sure what to expect of South Africa. I didn’t know much about it, even compared to the rest of Africa. I had the most incredible time though – the nature and wildlife took a piece of my heart, and I know I’ll be back for the bush sometime soon (and there’s so much else to see in Southern Africa!)

The lodges I stayed at were also a huge part of why I had such a great time. If you have a chance to stay at Makuwa Lodge (and Zululand Lodge), do it! I’d be happy to hear from you if you’d like any help planning your trip.

Nightfall at Makuwa.

I stayed at Makuwa Lodge as part of my Sunway Safari trip through South Africa and SwazilandThis was a fam trip for Fair Voyage, who are now offering a longer version of my trip as one of their ethical adventures. I am writing this article because I had a wonderful time, not because of any obligations to do so.