Disclaimer: Some of our articles contain affiliate links. We may receive compensation if you click on these links and make purchases, but it won't cost you anything extra.

Male Leopard - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp

Ultimate African Luxury Safari at &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp

In Hotels, South Africa by Daryl & Mindi Hirsch17 Comments

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to go on a safari? We experienced the ultimate African luxury safari at  &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Keep reading to see the first class facilities, chef-driven food and some of the most amazing animals in the world.

Male Leopard - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp

Don’t stand in the jeep!

Ranger Josh van der Ploeg made it crystal clear as we approached the leopard during our first game drive – standing could provoke an attack. Due to the excitement of seeing the beautiful spotted creature up close, Daryl, who sometimes lets the excitement take over his reasoning, forgot van der Ploeg’s one rule and immediately stood up. Long story short, the leopard didn’t attack us and we saw many more animals during our second safari experience. More about that later, but first watch our video…

Safari Chow Down Video

Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more meals and conversation with the 2foodtrippers.

Where Is &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp

African Sunset - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp

Every sunset and sunrise in Sabi Sand Game Reserve is a special event.

&Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp is located in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, a 65,000 hectare area located adjacent to Kruger National Park. Sabi Sand shares an open boundary with the national park, which allows animals to roam freely across the boundary and often bathe in the area’s two rivers – the Sabie and the Sand. Beyond being rich with animals, Sabi Sands has a notable variety of flora and fauna that surprises with every twist and turn. And the sunrises! The sun’s golden yolk rises every morning at the edge of the flat, unoccluded tree-dotted savanna.The only thing better than a colorful Sabi Sand sunrise is an even more colorful Sabi Sand sunset. At dusk, the show returns with an explosion of color that bathes the meandering Sabi River in hues of pink and orange.

Why We Went to &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp

Elephant - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp

How close did we get to this elephant? Close enough that we had to put the jeep in high gear when it started approaching us in anger. We took this photo before we made our quick escape.

For our second safari, we wanted to take it to the next level with a classic luxury safari experience. To do this, we drove ten hours through South Africa to &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp at the edge of Kruger Park so that we could experience one of Africa’s best safaris.

Fast Friends - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp

All roads lead to Kirkman’s Kamp.

Like many Generation X Americans, we grew up with romanticized views of safaris thanks to Hollywood classics like Out of Africa and Hatari, not to mention the grand prize trip giveaways on U.S. television game shows like The Price is Right and Wheel of Fortune. In our fantasy safaris, upper-class people glamp in fancy tents and eat elegant food served by appointed servants before they put on khaki outfits with pith helmets and head to the bush in 4×4 vehicles to see (and sometimes catch) wild animals.

During our long drive on mostly pothole-filled, two-lane highways, we wondered if &Beyond Kirkmans Kamp would live up to our romantic vision. We wondered about the food. Most of all, though, we wondered if we would see any or all of the Big Five animals. Prior to the first safari during our South Africa dream vacation, we weren’t obsessed with animals and didn’t even know which animals comprise the Big Five. We soon learned that these specific animals (African Lions, African Elephants, Cape Buffalo, African Leopards and Rhinoceroses) are the hardest to find – and we wanted to find them all.

Our Stay at &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp

Eight hundred kilometers is a long way to drive, especially in South Africa, but’s that’s what we did to get to &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp. We arrived a bit dusty and tired but totally excited for the adventure that lay ahead.

Welcome Drinks - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp

The staff at &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp welcomes guests with lemonade and gracious hospitality.

A Gracious Welcome

Before we could even get out of our car, manager Nicolene Schoeman warmly greeted us with Verbena scented wet towels and glasses of chilled lemonade. She gave us a tour of the classic 1920s lodge and introduced us to our butler Simon. (Yes, we had a butler!) By the time we traded the glasses of lemonade for glasses of rosé wine and sat down for a gourmet lunch on the veranda, our fatigue was gone. We were left with a feeling of excitement that stayed with us through a magical two-day stay that included much more food and four outstanding game drives.

Lodge - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp

The antlers on the walls in the &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp lodge are remnants of the past when animals were hunted for sport. Today, these same animals are protected and admired.

Situated on Harry Kirkman’s 1920 homestead, the safari lodge is understated and elegant with authentic touches like framed antique photos and firearms as well as game mementos from the days when animals in the game reserve were hunted with guns instead of cameras.

Monkey - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp

We spotted this monkey on a game drive, but his buddies like to hang out at the &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp veranda where they try to steal nibbles from the breakfast buffet.

Though we had plenty of privacy during our stay, we mingled with a number of other guests from countries like Australia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States. We felt truly cosmopolitan in a world where safaris are a big event.

Our Suite

Bedroom - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp

Our suite at &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp combined tasteful design and comfort. Despite all of the wonderful amenities, our favorite feature was the air conditioner.

Luxury Soap - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp

Luxury Soap

&Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp has 18 air-conditioned suites, each with its own private veranda overlooking the Sand River and an ensuite bathroom. Luxury amenities include high-end bathroom products, free wi-fi and complimentary laundry service. During our stay, the suite was our own private oasis. After dusty, energy-sapping game drives, we enjoyed coming back to our suite and lounging on the big, plush bed and taking bubble baths in the claw foot bathtub. Not all lodges include air conditioning in an effort to connect guests with nature. We, however, wholeheartedly approve of the modern convenience.

Relaxing - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp

Daryl relaxes with his phone after a tough day at the game lodge.

Nobody told us that safaris would be so tiring, but it makes sense considering the crack-of-dawn wake-up calls and twice daily game drives that interactively engage all five senses. Not only did we sleep well in our luxury hotel room, but we also lounged well there.

The Food

High Tea - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp

After Ranger Josh van der Ploeg guided us through the bush, he then made sure we got the best treats at Kirkman’s Kamp’s daily high tea service.

Food Connected with Nature

Chef Lulama Magatya - Ultimate African Safari at Kirkmans Kamp

Chef Lulama Magatya

If you think that a luxury African safari experience is all about the animals, then think again. An andBeyond safari experience is also about the food. At least it is at &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp where Chef Lulama Magatya combines his international culinary experience with locally sourced products to create tempting food from the crack of dawn until late at night.

The accomplished Chef and his team use the finest ingredients to prepare food that delighted us starting with the chickpea fritters served with tomato chutney that we inhaled during our first lunch to the lemon meringue tarts that we savored during high tea.

Fritters - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp

We quickly ate a delicious lunch at &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp before our first game drive. Despite the rush, we made time to enjoy every bite of these Chickpea Fritters topped with a flavorful Tomato Chutney.

Elegant South African Stoep Dining

When we weren’t on game drives, we spent most of our time on the sweeping stoep (Afrikaans for veranda) where we sipped coffee from Cape Town‘s Bean There Coffe Company during the day and wine from the Cape Winelands in the evening.

Breakfast - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp

Why not eat a healthy breakfast? Less healthy breakfast options include Omelettes and French Toast.

Day time meals skewed toward casual with full breakfasts and a la carte lunches. Evenings were more formal with pre-dinner cocktails where guests gathered to drink Gin & Tonics while sharing elephant tales about the day’s game drives.

Pro Tip:  Don’t expect to lose weight during a luxury African safari. Take advantage of healthy choices like fresh fruit and granola. Otherwise, don’t kill yourself if you gain a few pounds from the once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Dessert - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp

If you wondered why we gained weight during our three safari experiences, this delectable cherry cheesecake is exhibit number one.

Some dinners at &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp are romantic affairs with private tables and refined foods like smoked salmon salad, duck fillet and creme brulee. Other dinners are more raucous, filled with meats grilled on the braai and a local choir singing from their hearts. Though we enjoyed eating the communal braai dinner under the stars, we preferred the more intimate, candlelit dinner after a day of immersive game drives. We may be in the minority with this preference based on the unbridled enthusiasm displayed by our dinner companions.

Game Drives

Giraffe - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp

Hello Mr. Giraffe. We see you hiding in the trees!

For many people, a luxury safari is at the top of their travel bucket lists. We weren’t those people – at least not until we experienced our first African safari and realized that we wanted to take our safari repertoire to the next level. In other words, we wanted to see the Big Five plus as many giraffes, zebras and other animals as possible.

Let’s be clear, we are not animal experts. We usually focus on food travel. However, we are confident to say that we experienced four spectacular game drives at &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp. During these drives, we saw animals galore including the beautiful leopard and angry elephant (pictured at top.)

Animal Party - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp

Baboons and impalas roam freely and peacefully at Sabi Sand Game Reserve.

We also saw hyenas, rhinos, so many impalas, baboons, kudos steenbok and water buck. We witnessed a herd of impalas peacefully frolick with a congress of baboons while other baboons participated in not-so-subtle mating rituals just feet from our jeep. Ouch – those female baboon bottoms are really red.

Kirkmans Kamp Game Drive - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp

We saw so many animals during our four game drives. Pictured clockwise from the top are a male leopard, a cape hunting dog, a hyena, bathing hippos and a zebra swishing her tail.

We stopped often to observe the stunning birds and fabulous scenery. We didn’t know we were into birding until we visited &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp and observed a variety of birds including African Hoopoe birds and vultures. We also viewed impressive trees from the prevalent Acacia trees to a proud Sycamore Fig tree, the biggest tree on the property and reputed to be 600 years old.

Birds and Scenery - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp

Game drives are more than checking animals off of a list. They’re also windows into South African nature including epic trees, plant life and so many birds.

Ranger Josh and our quiet but capable tracker Jerry made every effort for us to see as many animals as possible, often communicating with other &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp staff by walkie talkie and sometimes following footprints in the dirt. Their unbridled excitement was contagious when we encountered a pack of Cape Hunting Dogs. Resembling coyotes and practically extinct, these animals are typically elusive and garner a lot of points for those who track their game drive sightings. To us, they were scarier than the leopard with their mangy appearance and pointy, sharp teeth.

Tracking Expedition - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp

The &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp team hunts for lions – not to harm them but rather to complete our Big Five mission.

Our morning game drives included stops in the game park where we enjoyed ginger cookies and ‘special special coffee’ made with shots of Amarula liqueur and hot chocolate mix. However, the evening drives stops were even more memorable with alcoholic sundowners and snacks like dried apricots, cheese puffs and biltong. As we watched the sun set over the Sand River while the sky flared into shades of orange, purple and pink, we toasted the wonder that is South Africa.

Tracker Jerry - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp

Jerry did more than track animals during our twice daily game drives. When he wasn’t perched atop the jeep on a tiny seat, he made himself invaluable by mixing drinks, an integral aspect of any luxury game drive.

Evening game drives were special for another reason – the stars. There is nothing like the African sky when the stars start sparkling. We gazed with wonder at the Southern Cross and the Milky Way, pinching each other to prove to ourselves that this was for real and wishing that the night would never end.

Setting Sun - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp

Our sundowner view of the sun setting over the Sand River was a highlight of our evening game drives at &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp.

Our one and only regret is that we did not complete our Big Five mission at &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp. We saw African Elephants, Cape Buffalo, an African Leopard and Rhinoceroses. However, the African Lion remained elusive despite the unrelenting efforts of both Josh and Jerry. Check back to soon if we accomplished this vanity goal during our third safari or if we need to return to South Africa to make it happen.

We appreciate why tourists go out of their way to experience top-notch safaris. We fully recommend that everybody experience at least one safari at a game reserve like Kruger or the adjacent Sabi Sands. This is land that has been untouched for centuries and possibly for millennia. There’s nothing like it, and the experience beats filling out a ‘Big Five scorecard.’

Lodge Amenities

Pool - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp

The infinity swimming pool at &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp is the perfect spot for relaxing with a view of the savanna after an exciting game drive.

Beyond the animals and food, not to mention the comfortable suites, &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp has a range of amenities to satisfy all guests. These amenities include an infinity swimming pool, an open-air boma, a safari shop, a library, Harry’s bar (named after original owner Harry Kirkman), free wi-fi and complimentary laundry service.

Pro Tip:  Prices are surprisingly fair at the safari shop. Don’t fret if you forget to pack extra batteries or a certain toiletry item.

Photography Equipment Rental

Impalas - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp

You can’t take photos like this with a point and shoot camera.

In addition to selling souvenirs and toiletries, the safari shop also rents Canon and Nikon photography equipment including DSLR cameras and zoom lenses. We rented a Canon 75-300 Canon Lens to use during our four game drives. This lens wasn’t top of the line, but it still enhanced our experience by enabling us to take better photos of the animals we encountered. We found the daily rental cost of 370 Rand (approximately $28 USD at the time of our visit) to be a worthwhile expense. The shop also rents binoculars and provides photography lessons for visitors.

Transportation and Logistics

We're on Safari - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp

We’re on another safari!

Getting to &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp

You can travel to &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp by car or plane. There are daily flights to the nearby Skukuza airstrip, making the plane option both time effective and convenient.

For those who choose to drive, be aware that South Africans drive on the left side of the road. Public roads are fairly well maintained though potholes and traffic are not uncommon. The roads inside Sabi Sand Game Reserve are not paved. If you rent a car, be sure to purchase insurance… just in case. We were happy to have the insurance and even happier not to use it.

Cost

Let’s face it – luxury African safaris are not cheap. However, we believe that this type of once-in-a-lifetime experience is worth the cost for guests of all ages. The current cost of Kirkman’s Kamp is 9,075 Rands per person per night (approximately $685  USD during our visit), but the memories are priceless.

This cost includes accommodation, meals, drinks, game drives, game drive refreshments, laundry service, taxes and transfers to/from the airstrip. The cost does not include gratuities, safari shop purchases, park fees, landing fees, premium drinks and phone calls.

Pro Tip:  Tips are not required but are expected and appreciated. This is the case at all luxury safaris unless stated otherwise.

When to Plan Your Visit

The good news is that there is no bad season to visit &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp. Spring and summer are great for their long days, baby animals and migrating birds. Autumn shines with its mild weather. Don’t count out winter  – a great option for enhanced visibility and animal sightings.


Book Your Stay at &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp

Click here to research the current rates for your &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp safari experience.

Start Planning Your Trip Now

We thank &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp for hosting us to facilitate facilitate this article.

&Beyond Kirkman's Kamp | Sabi Sand | Kruger Park | luxury safari lodge | luxury safari camp | African Safari Vacation | Sabi Sands | Sabi Sands Game Reserve | Sabi Sands Reserve | #KirkmansKamp #Safari #LuxurySafari #AfricanSafari #SouthAfrica #SouthAfricaTravel

Disclaimer: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Comments

  1. Your photography is exceptional. There’s so much clarity and helps me to feel like I’m there with you…especially next to the cherry cheesecake.

    1. Author

      Thank you for your kind words about our photography! As for the cheesecake, it was worth every calorie.

  2. Guys, this post is sooooo good, I totally have a romanticised version of a safari as well. In my mind, I am Virginia McKenna in Born Free! I have dreamed for years of going on Safari, I adore animals. Do you mind if I drop you a line and ask some more questions about it? I really want to plan one for next year. xx

    1. Author

      You must plan a safari for next year! Feel free to ask any questions here or by email when (not if) you start making your plans.

  3. You’ve sold me! I would thoroughly enjoy a safari at Kirkman’s Camp! With great food and accommodations, a mobile bar, and terrific wildlife viewing, what’s not to like. I hope I make it to South Africa soon.

    1. Author

      South Africa is amazing – you will love the country and Kirkman’s Kamp when you make it there.

  4. Brilliant stuff guys. This is one of my dream trips. Plus I recall watching nature shows of the SS Reserve; supreme diversity there. Thanks for the inspired post!

    1. Author

      You MUST do a safari, especially since it’s one of your dream trips. It’s so much better in real life than on any tv show.

  5. Love a good safari! I’m not sure about “wearing” a leopard, but I get what you meant. Can’t wait to see you guys…hope you are up for our latest post. Be prepared!

    1. Author

      Ha Ha – That was just a joke. We would never harm a leopard. We can’t wait to see you too!

  6. That looks like such a great place to stay for a safari. I love the sundowners they do out in the bush during the drives. Definitely looks like a luxury experience!

    1. Author

      As you can probably tell, we highly recommend Kirkman’s Kamp!

  7. Wow! That looks stunning. Pricey? Yes- but I think a trip like this would be the trip of a lifetime and you can’t put a price on amazing memories like that.

Leave a Comment

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required