Visiting Giraffes at Muluwa Lodge
Muluwa Lodge, why is it so special? It’s located in the picturesque area of Mpumalanga. You can relax here on the 765-hectare private reserve, and the possibility to make friends with fourteen giraffes (if you’re lucky) and feel like you’re on a safari.
In the beginning, I will explain what I mean by “safari vibe hotels”. Generally, the lodges or hotels you choose to stay in when you want to experience a safari in the Kruger Park, are located either inside or outside the park. Those located in the National Park are generally more expensive. Furthermore, when making/searching for a booking you should also consider the park’s restrictions such as the gates closing at certain times for security reasons. On the other hand, at hotels located outside the Kruger, for instance, surrounding towns such as Nelspruit or Hoedspruit, you can expect self-catering accommodation or game farms which offer better value for money and they can guarantee a more personalized experience, such as meeting animals (not predators) and relaxing in private reserves which are not as commercialized. To put it simply, hotels that allow you to interact with animals (but not like in a zoo environment) have a “safari vibe” to them with ease of movement and closer interactions.
There was a surprise waiting for me when we arrived at Muluwa Lodge. A giraffe was standing quietly and posing by the main pool. I took a picture, but the next thought that came to my mind was to jump into the pool. After all, who wouldn’t want a photo with a giraffe in the background? I think the manager of the lodge realized what was on my mind and suggested that I should jump into the pool immediately! Without hesitation, I ran to get my things, changed clothes very quickly, and surprisingly the giraffe was gone! Unfortunately, a bigger group of tourists had come to the lodge and scared her off. Such a pity, it could have been such a great moment captured!
Apart from this unpleasant incident, my stay got off to a promising start. I checked into one of their very comfortable Superior rooms/cottages. Muluwa offers three types of accommodation to choose from twelve- Luxury Safari Tents, eight Superior rooms/cottages, and two Luxury Superior suites/cottages. The tents are nothing like the ones I have slept in on my camping trips. They are modern and air-conditioned with a private bathroom and shower which can accommodate two guests. Perfectly located as they overlook the mountains and the valley. The cost per night is very reasonably priced (see below), therefore they are almost always booked.
The Superior rooms are beautifully decorated, with a spacious bathroom consisting of a bath and shower in addition to an outdoor shower. They can accommodate two adults and a child under the age of 12 years. The view from the terrace is a bit obscured by plants, but it creates the impression that you are surrounded by a bush.
The Luxury Superior suites have their very own private small swimming pool called a plunge pool providing you with the ultimate relaxation on those hot sunny days. These units can accommodate two adults as well as two children (up to the age of 12 years old). As a bonus from the comfort of your room or tent their resident giraffes come and nibble on the leaves from the trees growing next to the accommodation sites. So, from the time you wake up in the morning, you can say “hello” to them and the adventure begins.
The buffet dinner was a real treat, served in a traditional African Boma, which is an outdoor open-air dining room with a crackling fire and cozy atmosphere set under the African skies. The Boma originates from pre-colonial times, when indigenous people, for example, the Zulu and Khoza tribes, closed livestock behind wooden “fences” made of branches. There is something magical about experiencing a meal like this. You can not only warm yourself by the fire but also create conversation, open up, and share your stories! It is a magical setting distinguishing safari-style hotels and it’s something special to be a part of. Full continental breakfasts are served in the restaurant, while on the second day, I set off on a safari very early in the morning and received a takeaway package (this option must be ordered in advance).
Similar to Tomjachu Bush Retreat, it is close to many attractions. In addition to Kruger Park, it is worth visiting the Lowveld Botanical Garden with the country’s largest collection of fig trees and other unique plant life. You can also opt to do the Panorama Route and see one of the largest and greenest canyons in the world, as well as the surrounding gorges and waterfalls (a full list of attractions and distances is below).
When you stay at the lodge, you can, for example, go for guided walks where you can encounter different animals. Apart from the resident giraffes, there are zebras, nyala, kudu, wildebeest, and about 200 species of birds in the park!
The sister lodge is Ndula, located in the same area as Muluwa, a bit more off the beaten track and to switch off from the hustle and bustle of the city. I also had the opportunity to spend the night in a tent located in the bush. Each tent (there are 26 of them in total) accommodates two people and doesn’t lack anything. There is air conditioning, a double bed, a terrace, and a modern bathroom with a shower. The other areas such as the communal lounge, bar, and restaurant were also very tastefully decorated, combining the use of wood with modern designs and African decorations, and a fairly small but decent swimming pool. It was a great place both for relaxing in the evening with a glass of wine and for drinking your morning coffee with breathtaking views. Not to mention those African sunrises and sunsets …
Both of these places boast extremely helpful and smiling staff. I felt right at home. I recommend it!
More information about lodges:
Muluwa is located 350 km from Johannesburg airport (about 3.5 / 4 hours by car).
You can also fly to Nelspruit (Kruger Mpumalanga) and the transfer takes 15 minutes.
The proximity to the airport has its downside, sometimes you can hear the sounds of planes taking off.
Dinner at Boma depends on the weather.
Both lodges can provide gluten-free meals. Please advise the hotel prior to arrival.
Prices in Muluwa and Ndhula start from USD70/ per person with breakfast and dinner