Africa on Foot: a boutique safari lodge in review

Africa on Foot: a boutique safari lodge in review

Back home, I’m used to waking up to find my cat using me as a mattress. But, as I stirred from my bed deep in the South African wilderness, I was pleased to find the local big cats hadn’t had the same idea. I had just begun a three night stay at Africa on Foot, and I wasn’t ready to be eaten just yet.

I had dreamed of going on safari for years. My rose-tinted glasses conjured up visions of me staying in a comfy room, meeting friendly staff and encountering wildlife galore (only not in my bed). With such high expectations, whichever lodge we chose would have a lot to live up to. Luckily, this little gem in the heart of Klaserie Private Nature Reserve came up trumps on all counts. Read on to find out why.

Warning: This post contains a pretty graphic image from a game drive. Don’t look if you’re at all squeamish or an impala-lover.

Bush Walks

Of course, the main reason most people stay in a safari lodge is to spot wildlife. The opportunities to do this at Africa on Foot are second to none. As well as the traditional game drives that all safari lodges offer, Africa on Foot does what it says on the tin. The guides are trained to take you on bush walks, giving you a completely unique and close-up perspective on the wildlife.

Africa on Foot: Bush Walks

On our first bush walk, we learnt how to tell the difference between animal tracks, and all about the plants and trees around us. But of course, it was the animals themselves that we were desperate to see.

A close encounter

After about half an hour of walking through makeshift pathways and around stale elephant dung, we spotted three silhouettes moving in the distance. As we drew nearer, our tracker ducked down behind a tree and, in complete silence, encouraged us to do the same. We peered through gaps in the leaves, all vying to catch a glimpse.

And then the silhouettes came towards us.

Two young white rhino and one very pregnant mother crept up on us as silently as we had stumbled across them. We knew their eyesight was poor, but their strong sense of smell alerted them that there was something (us) hiding behind that tree. And they were determined to find out what it was.

So they came closer still.

Africa on Foot: Safari

My heart was beating faster than a cheetah can run, and I was ready to launch myself in the opposite direction. Only I couldn’t. Our group was completely surrounded by the three rhino, and there was no escape, even if I wanted to.

So I gave up worrying and decided to watch as the magnificent beasts sniffed and plodded along around us. They still didn’t know what we were, so our guides clicked their fingers to give them a clue. Yet, this seemed to intrigue them more than anything, so they took another couple of steps closer. Our guides had grown wary of how close they were, so they tapped their rifles to make an unfamiliar metallic sound.

And then they ran away.

Game Drives

That same day, we had another unforgettable experience on a game drive. Our guides had tracked a pack of wild dogs close to our camp. We followed them as the pack reunited and set off on the hunt for food. They were too fast for us to keep up, but the vultures circling overhead told us the dogs’ efforts were successful.

We caught up with them as they dragged their meal to a clearing and then let the vultures take over. Even for a vegetarian, that was a pretty special moment and one I’ll never forget.

Africa on Foot: Safari

Thanks to the abundance of wildlife in Klaserie Private Nature reserve, we managed to see all but one of the Big 5. It was only the elusive leopard that kept us guessing. That said, I know that lots of lucky Africa on Foot guests have seen one since.

Africa on Foot: Safari

Africa on Foot: Safari

Africa on Foot: safari
Africa on Foot: safari

Africa on Foot Staff

They say it’s the people that make a place, and the staff at Africa of Foot certainly made us feel welcome.

We got to know our tracker, Enoch, and guides, Luane and Chade, pretty well throughout our stay. They knew absolutely everything about the bush and the animals that called it home. Their ability to drive and spot wildlife in the distance, all while answering our questions and listening out for signals over the radio is incredible.

Africa on Foot: Staff

Unlike many other safari guides, they wanted us to have the best experience possible. They preferred quality sightings over quantity. This all helped us to see some truly incredible things rather than ticking all animals off our list. Each sighting was accompanied with an in-depth description of the animal – what they eat, how they live and how to tell the difference between male and female. I’m positively an expert now!

Africa on Foot: Staff
Africa on Foot: Staff

One of my favourite moments in the camp was when the guides joined us for dinner. They kept us entertained with their stories around the campfire. I could have listened to them for hours!

Africa on Foot: Drinks around the campfire

JD and three lovely ladies took care of everything back at the lodge. They greeted us with hot face towels and aperitifs after a chilly winter game drive. It was this attention to detail that we loved most.

Delicious Food

The food was just too enticing for me to take any photos. You’ll have to imagine the tasty, home cooked meals all served up from a tiny kitchen hut. The food is different every day, and the cooks will start the meal by explaining the menu first.

Africa on Foot: Food

After the morning bush walks, the lodge serves up cereals, fruit and yogurt, before a hot breakfast if you can manage! At about 2pm, the cooks provide a buffet lunch with salads and a yummy dessert. For dinner, there is a three course meal on offer every day at about 8pm. How they managed to find enough food to cater for a pescatarian, two vegans and a coeliac in the middle of the bush is beyond me.

Rooms & Accommodation

The majority of rooms at Africa on Foot sleep two people in rondevels: traditional African huts with thatched roofs. Only they’re a little more luxurious than that, with four poster beds, mosquito nets and little wardrobes.

I adored our room, Tjankbos. At first, I dreaded the outdoor shower, but this became its charm. We could watch the world go by while washing our armpits, and the beating sun made up for the shower’s very occasional lapse in heat.

Luckily, however, the toilet was indoors.

Africa on Foot: Accommodation

Africa on Foot: Accommodation

Each night, the lodge staff would make the bed and hide hot water bottles under the covers. They would also leave traditional African fairytales on the pillows to make going to bed even more enticing. The little touches were just adorable.

Lodge Facilities

Beyond the safari, there is plenty to keep you entertained in the lodge itself. Guests can swim in the pool (not recommended in winter!), drink at the bar or read books in the lounge. You can even head up to the treehouse for unrivalled views across the national park.

If you’re brave enough, you can even spend the night in the treehouse. Other guests raved about their experience up there. They were able to hear the animal calls throughout the night and sleeping under the stars.

Africa on Foot: Treehouse

Africa on Foot: Treehouse

Overall, our stay at Africa on Foot was the best three days of any holiday I’ve ever been on. People often ask me where I’d most like to go back to. I can hand on heart say this is it. And no, they haven’t paid me to say this. Africa on Foot is an incredible place to stay, and I’m delighted to be able to recommend it.

This visit was just the start of my 2 weeks in South Africa. Read my recommended itinerary to find out what else I got up to!

~~~

Now tell me, what’s the one place in the world you wish you could go back to? What made it so special for you? Let me know in the comments!

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Africa on Foot - a boutique safari lodge in review

20 Comments

  1. 19th July 2017 / 10:18 pm

    This looks absolutely breathtaking. What great photos you captured as well. I would definitely be spending the night in that treehouse. A walking safari seems like the way to go.

    • 25th July 2017 / 9:02 am

      Thanks Alice! Yeah it was truly amazing. Would definitely recommend it! I loved going up to the treehouse during the day too as you get an incredible view out over the plains. So special ☺️

  2. 19th July 2017 / 10:35 pm

    Sounds like you had an amazing experience – would love to do a safari some day! This sounds like an amazing place to stay! And I would’ve totally been scared by those rhinos getting so close, haha – but still, that’s so cool!

    • 25th July 2017 / 9:01 am

      Haha I’ll fully admit I was scared of the rhinos! You just don’t know what they’re thinking ☺️ But I lived to tell the tale and am very glad I got to experience it!

  3. 19th July 2017 / 11:27 pm

    wow now I am jealous! Looks like Africa of Foot is a winner ! I would LOVE to go on safari one day and I cant believe how close you’ve got to be to that animals! Amazing! The room looks pretty lovely as well! Seems like you had a wonderful experience !

    • 25th July 2017 / 9:01 am

      It absolutely is a winner, Ada! The rooms were wonderful, the staff were wonderful, and the animals!! Safe to say I had a pretty amazing time ☺️

  4. 20th July 2017 / 12:29 am

    What an incredible read! I loved the part with the rhinos! I’ve been wanting to go on a safari for a long time, so I will definitely consider Africa on Foot! Amazing pictures as well!

    • 25th July 2017 / 8:59 am

      Thank you so much! I would say Africa on Foot is a great place for first time safari goers. They look after you so well!

  5. 20th July 2017 / 12:31 am

    What an incredible experience! I like the aspect of going on the walks rather than being in a Jeep the whole time. And I love the fairy tales left on the pillows! Gorgeous photos.

    • 25th July 2017 / 8:58 am

      They really did everything they could to make our stay special! I loved every minute ☺️

  6. 20th July 2017 / 1:21 am

    This sounds like a very cool lodge and experience. You got some fantastic pictures! I would’ve been so scared when the rhinos approached so closely.

    • 25th July 2017 / 8:58 am

      It was pretty scary, but an amazing experience all the same ☺️ I was nervous about doing the bush walks but am so glad we did after all!

  7. Orangewayfarer
    20th July 2017 / 10:11 am

    No word can describe how I enjoyed reading this. How much was the cost in usd if you dintind me asking?

    • 25th July 2017 / 8:49 am

      Aw thanks so much for saying that! Means a lot 🙂 We booked through an agent so got a pretty good deal, but the lodge costs about $500 a night for two people, including all game drives, entertainment, food and drink! I hope that helps 😊

  8. 20th July 2017 / 10:57 am

    What amazing photos! I love your account of your trip, I have always wanted to go on safari and this has made me want to go even more. It sounds like you got to see a lot of different animals too. What time of year did you go? Is there a peak season and off-peak season?

    • 25th July 2017 / 8:45 am

      Thanks Louise! We were there in May-June which is considered the shoulder season. They say that this and September are good times to go as it’s drier and easier to spot wildlife through the bushes. But really, every day on safari is a stroke of luck as to what you see!

  9. 20th July 2017 / 2:11 pm

    Oh my, I love the sound of Africa on Foot! I went on a walking safari in the Okavango Delta and it was such a different experience from the vehicle safaris I went on, so peaceful and unintrusive. We saw a lion in the distance, which was disconcerting as the guide only had a penknife…! Fab photos!

    • 25th July 2017 / 8:43 am

      Wow, Natasha! That sounds incredible!!! I like to think I would have loved to come across a lion on the walking safari but I don’t know if I could handle the excitement! I’d want to run over and give it a cuddle. Probably not the best idea…

  10. 21st July 2017 / 8:37 am

    This sounds like such an unique way to experience wildlife in Africa! In all honesty though I don’t think I could do myself. Just reading about the rhinos made my heart stop – can’t even imagine what it would have been like to actually be there! Love your photos!

    • 25th July 2017 / 8:42 am

      It was a pretty incredible experience, despite being so scary! The majority of camps do keep safaris only, so they might be better for you. Much safer!

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