When it comes to choosing a destination for your African safari, South Africa is ahead of the curve, offering a range of tours to suit most budgets, from basic safari trips to super luxury safari vacation packages. And when it comes to South Africa, there’s no better place to use as a home base for your safari than Hoedspruit – the capital of the Rainbow Nation’s safari industry – and
eKhaya Bush Villa. We do things differently at eKhaya. Rather than doing what every other safari lodge does and building in two game drives each day, we leave your itinerary wide open, offering instead a range of exciting activities and excursions which make the very best of the Greater Kruger region of South Africa and the amazing tourism offerings on our doorstep. When you stay at eKhaya you can choose from our own range of African safari packages or we can design customised, bespoke tours for you which ensure that your vacation is filled with first-class authentic African experiences. It’s all part of the safari services that we provide and goes to the very heart of what we believe a safari is all about.

A short lesson in safari… For a start, let’s look at the word “safari”. It first appeared as a foreign word in the English language in the mid 1800s, thanks to explorer Sir Richard Burton, and is derived from Arabic word “safara” which means “a journey”. Due to the trade between Arabia and East Africa, the word was absorbed into the kiSwahili vernacular where it was adapted into a verb – “kusafiri” – which means “to travel” and subsequently, the noun “safari”. In those days to go on safari meant a journey into the wilds of the continent, in search of big game, invariably to hunt. The Big 5 – leopard, lion, buffalo, elephant and rhino – were thus named as being the five most dangerous animals to hunt on foot. Mercifully, on today’s African safari, cameras have replaced guns and modern safari goers experience the thrill of capturing images of the Big 5 and witnessing their behaviour in the wild instead of mounting their heads on a wall. Indeed, a safari today is all about connecting with wild Africa, understanding the intricate relationship between wild animals and plants and how the wilderness is amazingly interconnected and worthy of protecting and conserving for future generations. Safari, then, has come full circle. And your African safari package at eKhaya is designed responsibly to help you appreciate the enormous positive impact you can make in ensuring that our precious wilderness areas and the fauna and flora which call them home are here for generations to come.

Your eKhaya African Safari Tour… It all starts with superb game viewing activities in what is without doubt one of the best Big 5 areas on the continent. The Greater Kruger area is packed with some of South Africa’s leading private game reserves as well as the world-renowned Kruger National Park itself. eKhaya Bush Villa can arrange a range of guided game viewing activities in the Kruger National Park and includes a full-day game drive in all of its safari packages. This is because there really isn’t anything to match the thrill of being in this legendary game reserve in an open safari vehicle, feeling the African wind in your face and experiencing the sights and smells of the Kruger bush at close quarters. At just over 2-million hectares in size, or 19,485 square kilometres (that’s roughly the size of the country of Belgium!) this is one of the largest game reserves in Africa and, indeed, the world. It was South Africa’s first national park, being proclaimed in 1926 and is now part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park – a peace park linking it with neighbouring Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park and Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park. It’s also part of the Kruger to Canyon Biosphere – an area designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) as an International Man and Biosphere Reserve. eKhaya is ideally positioned between two of the Kruger Park’s entrance gates at Orpen and Phalaborwa, with the Orpen gate the closest and most convenient for day visitors. Our 3-night and 5-night packages include a full-day game viewing experience in the Kruger Park, whilst our 7-night package includes two full-day trips in the park. Trips into the Kruger Park are always exciting and guests have the chance to see a variety of animals, from the fabled Big 5 to some 477 species of birds, some of which are endemic to the area.  We send you off with a delicious packed breakfast, and guests stop for lunch at Satara Rest Camp where there is both a cafe and restaurant. In addition to the Kruger National Park, eKhaya also offers morning and evening guided game drives on a number of private game reserves in the area, allowing guests the chance to have some amazing wildlife encounters in otherwise exclusive wilderness areas.

 Journey into you African Safari Tour Adventure…

Your eKhaya safari package isn’t just about game viewing… We’re also big on showing you some of the amazing places on our doorstep, which we think offers some of the best scenery and landscapes in South Africa. The famed Panorama Route is within spitting distance of eKhaya, with the magnificent Drakensberg escarpment dominating the western horizon. Here you will find the breathtakingly beautiful Blyde River Canyon, the third largest canyon in the world, which can be viewed from different aspects on two activities we include in our 5-night and 7-night packages – the Panorama Scenic Tour and the Sunset Boat Cruise. The Panorama Scenic Tour takes in the Blyde Canyon from above, with visits to the Three Rondavels viewing points offering incredible views down into the canyon and of the course of the Blyde river where it has carved its way through the surrounding rock over a period of millennia. The Panorama Route also takes in sights such as Bourke’s Luck Potholes. Named after prospector Tom Bourke, who discovered alluvial gold there during the late 1800’s, the potholes lie at the confluence of the Treur and Blyde rivers and were formed millions of years ago by sand and pebbles caught in the rivers flow, which gouged holes into the underlying sandstone. The Blyde Canyon and Bourke’s Luck Potholes, together with the other tourism attractions of the Panorama Route, are accessed via the impressive Abel Erasmus pass – a winding road up through the escarpment, surrounded by steep mountainsides and plunging rock faces which drop down to the Olifants river at its base. This incredible mountain pass was named after a local entrepreneur who had a mining and general transportation business at the turn of the 20th century, moving mining equipment and supplies with huge spans of oxen from the Indian Ocean port of Lourenco Marques (now Maputo, the capital of Mozambique) to local mines and the growing settlements, including Hoedspruit, which were springing up in the area. At the base of the escarpment lies the Blyde Dam, accessed via the Swadini Reserve, where boat cruises and a range of adventure activities offer another way of viewing this magnificent scenery. 

African Safari packages with heart and soul… This area is also renowned for two of South Africa’s best loved wildlife rehabilitation centres – the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre and Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre – which also feature in eKhaya’s 5 and 7-night safari packages. Visits to these centres can also be arranged for guests at eKhaya. The Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, located close to eKhaya at Kapama Game Reserve, focuses on conservation and the sustainability of rare, vulnerable and threatened species and helps to educate local communities on the importance of this. It is renowned for its work with cheetahs, which are bred and rehabilitated back into the wild. Situated in the shadow of the majestic “ Mariepskop” – the highest peak in the Drakensberg escarpment – Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is a home to abandoned, injured and poisoned wildlife and plays a major role in wildlife education. It has a successful Serval Breeding Project and more than 160 have successfully been reintroduced to areas where they have become extinct. It is also actively involved in research on the movement and behaviour of leopards and also on a number of vulture species that are monitored at the centre’s “vulture restaurant”. These are just some of the experiences eKhaya weaves into the safari packages it offers guests, whether you choose from our 3, 5 and 7-night packages or opt to have a safari package put together specifically for you.

Let us create the perfect safari package for you… Your African safari package can also be customised to ensure that you get the most out of your stay at eKhaya Bush Villa, affording you time to relax by the pool and sample the peace and tranquility of the Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate. We can arrange additional meals for you, and can even offer you a full-board package which includes all meals and select local drinks. It’s important that your safari package gives you the time to relax and spend time just appreciating our bush villa’s luxurious facilities. For example, our sala out in the garden can be made up as a day bed, with a fabulous mattress and plump scatter cushions, complete with net curtaining, allowing you to lay back and read a good book from our extensive library collection or just take in the sights and smells of the surrounding bush. Sleep outs in the sala can also be arranged. Our indoor lounge is at your disposal too, with its HD television and full satellite TV service giving you access to the latest movies and television series, as well as global sports and news coverage. We also have a range of board games and a selection of great South African wines ready for the tasting. Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate is also a safe place for joggers and walking, so our guests are at liberty to go out and explore and keep fit while doing so. 

Out and about – safari in “the Hoed”… The bustling little town of Hoedspruit is also on our doorstep, and is worthy of exploration during your stay with us, so make sure you allocate time to shop and spend time at one of its great restaurants in your safari package. With its range of gift, curio and art shops, “the Hoed” has something for everyone, from beautiful bespoke jewellery to African textiles and decor items. Its restaurants also caters to all tastes, from Italian to African fusion. Your safari package could also include some great and exciting adventure activities. Why not try horse riding on an exciting outride on the estate? Or hot air ballooning over the Drakensberg escarpment? Helicopter and light aircraft flips can also be arranged, as can scenic trips in a microlight. There are also some fabulous hiking trails around the Blyde River Canyon and up on the Panorama Route, as well as the chance to go “kloofing” or canyoning, following the course of a mountain stream by climbing, floating, swimming or a combination of all three! Hoedspruit is a friendly town, and eKhaya Bush Villa is your home while you are here, so let us show you the very best of what it has to offer you. We can make dinner reservations for you or spa appointments. If you prefer, the spa can come to you and you can have your treatment at eKhaya, either outside in the sala or in your suite. These treats can be worked into your safari package too. Our bespoke safari packages are absolutely 100% flexible. We can arrange car hire for you, should you prefer to explore on your own. Or we can have a car and driver put at your disposal so you can go where the mood takes you. And should you fall head over heels in love with our little town and feel that you’d  like to make a safari package a more permanent arrangement, we can arrange for you to meet one of Hoedspruit’s leading property consultants to find out more about buying a home on either Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate or one of the town’s other world-class nature and game estates. Whatever you need, we can put together a package to suit you.