I took my first safari trip in August 2019 and … well, to cut things short, the rest is history. I fell in love with South African bushes and 6 months later I came back for another adventure. My crush had a lot to do with staying in Vuyani Safari Lodge for the first time so I decided to go for the “safe package” again. Only that this time we took the glamping option in Vuyani Tented Camp, knowing that the service would yet again be impeccable. The only thing I was afraid of was the weather because February falls into the rainy season in South Africa. Well, guess who got lucky again! 😉
By the way, this is not just another hotel review – you can find those in Tripadvisor. In my review of Vuyani Tented Camp you will not only find the details about the camp but also some useful information about what to expect from a safari if you are a first-timer. So, bear with be until the end, I promise it will be worth it.
Vuyani Tented Camp is located in the same area as Vuyani Safari Lodge, in Blue Canyon Private Game reserve near Kruger National Park. This time we decided to fly in from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit and Vuyani team awaited us at the airport. The transfer from the airport to the camp takes around 20 minutes and is provided free of charge. If you are able to rent a car and want to enjoy some truly beautiful nature on the way from Joburg to Hoedspruit, I suggest you consider taking the scenic route along the Blyde River Canyon, at least in one direction. If not, you can still do the day trip from the camp, which you simply book with the Vuyani staff. I promise it is going to be worth it (you can find a couple of photos from the road trip in my Facebook album.)
The property is almost brand new and so far, comprises 6 tents, a pool deck with infinity pool overlooking the drained river basin, a lovely dining and chill out lounge and a barbecue area. All the facilities are connected with a charming wooden pathway, lifted from the ground for safety reasons. Remember, we are in the middle of African bushes and you never know which wild pet comes knocking on your door. 😉 The Vuyani staff told me that a few new tents are coming, as well as a small fitness area, so the camp will grow a little bit more in the near future.
We stayed in the tent number 3 and I believe there is not much difference where you stay, since all of the units are privately located in the bushes, surrounded by nature. The only thing you could suffer from is being about 1-minute walk farther from the pool area compared to your neighbor. The units actually don’t look like tents but they are made of wood so I guess we can call it some kind of glamping. The tents are decorated in lovely rustic style with carefully selected details such as lamps, sinks and drawers. However, the biggest surprises are kept outside of the tents.
One is the outdoor shower, which first feels a bit quirky, but once you get used to it, being naked in the nature gets under your skin easily (the privacy is of course guaranteed). And the other one is the small veranda where you can drink your coffee (or beer) surrounded by the sound of the bushes. To be honest, I only used it early in the morning because it was too hot outside after 10 am. Remember, February is Summer in South Africa, which means that the day temperatures in Kruger national park area easily rise over 30 degrees Celsius.
Speaking of the heat – I need to warn you that tents do come with (only) one compromise. Even though there is a small AC unit provided, it hardly does any favor during the afternoon heat. That’s why Vuyani Tented Camp has that fantastic pool area where you can cool off and perhaps get lucky with some wildlife spotting in between.
What I also loved about the tents were the small details such as really comfortable bed and pillows, the minibar with complimentary drinks, tea and coffee, the power stations (they even have an USB switch besides the bed so you can charge your phone hassle free) and a well working hair dryer. Well done, Vuyani!
The All-inclusive package (food and drinks)
Vuyani Tented Camp offers All-inclusive package with 3 meals per day, drinks (including delicious South African wine and beer) and 2 game drives per day. Breakfast (fresh fruits, yogurt, cereals and eggs of your choice) is served around 8.30, after the morning game drive, lunch at 1.30 pm is usually self-service and dinners are something to really look forward to after your second game drive (usually around 8 pm). Vuyani chefs are amazing and the food they make is out of this world. By the way, they also offer vegetarian meals but you have to report your special dietary requirements upon your arrival.
By the way, it is good to know is that all the guests usually eat together at the same table, which might be a bit awkward if you are more of a lonely type. But the guests are usually really laid-back people. We met some wonderful couples both times and I am sure we will stay in touch. If you are still bothered with this type of setting, ask the staff if they can set you up with the private table. They will be happy to oblige (although you will look a bit odd).
The game drives
The game drives are done twice a day in open (bring hats and sunscreens!) vehicles with 9 seats, so you’ll definitely have all the space you need to take the perfect photos. The driver (who is also a guide at the same time) will tell you all the spicy details about African wildlife, and there is also a tracker who sits in the front of the vehicle for better animal spotting. Rest assured that safety is at the maximum level, as long as you respect the rules: no loud talking or making weird sounds, absolutely NO standing up in the vehicle and keep your legs and arms inside.
Game drives last for 2 to 3 hours, depending on the number of “moments” you catch in the bushes. You are probably asking yourself what are the chances for wildlife spotting. Well, depends on what you want to see. The longer you stay, the more chances you get for seeing the lions, hyenas and a leopard. And don’t worry about the elephants, giraffes, zebras and hippos – they are out there every day. In our case, we saw everything we wanted in 3 full days. More photos are available in this link. However, if you want to see the buffaloes and larger herds of animals, then consider taking the day trip to Kruger national park. But even there no one can promise you anything. That is the beauty of raw nature. You can read more about taking a safari trip in this post.
Anda’s rate: 9,5 out of 10.
Bottom line: I am giving Vuyani Tented Camp a 9,5 just because I liked the Vuyani Safari Lodge a little bit more (after all, it was my first safari and you never forget your first, right? 😉) If you are a safari first-timer, if you want to get a comfortable, hassle free all-inclusive experience, safe game drives, and high chances to see the animals from a very close distance, search no further. Vuyani is all that and so much more. Thank you again for an unforgettable experience.