If you begin in the Southern most part of the Kruger National Park, at Crocodile Bridge Gate and from there make your way on to the S28, you’ll follow it for just a while and you’ll find the turn off to Shishangeni…
I guarantee that before you have reached your destination you will have fallen in love with this magical 15 000 hectare concession, which they call the Mpanamana concession.
Prepare to be awe struck by the amount of plains game that frequent the area, and the fact that they are completely unshy to vehicles. You’ll be able to sit for ages marveling at the many journeys of giraffe, listen to the chatter of the vervet monkeys, and enjoy the impala that stroll along the road in front of your vehicle. One can’t help to notice the lush greenness of this part of the Kruger, even in the wintertime.
Perhaps this is because of the Crocodile River that snakes its way between farmland and Kruger paradise…
Continue for just a little while longer… and at the foot of the Lebombo mountains you’ll find Shishangeni, if you translate this directly from the traditional Shonga language, which is spoken in the area, it means “Place of Beauty”, a completely fitting description.
For Shishangeni is not pretentious, it is merely a place of sweet serenity where you can come together with your family, friends and loved ones and enjoy an authentic safari combined with great service and attention to detail.
On arrival expect to be welcomed in by warm, friendly faces offering refreshing fruit cocktail drinks. Once checked in, you will be briefed on your days ahead, and ushered in to the dining area for a delicious meal. A typical lunch boasts a buffet style meal; with fresh salads and bread rolls, a few meat options, a starch and veggis, ended off with a sublime desert of sorts.
A wooden walkway leads the way to stylishly appointed individual thatched chalets, each with their own private deck to enjoy the peace and quite of the African bush. The rooms feature a fireplace, sitting area, and a to-die-for bath to soak in. Nothing says unwind, like a long; hot bubble bath after a safari. For the more adventurous, each room also boasts an outdoor shower. The natural earthy hues and African adornments and décor give the finishing touch to these chalets creating a home away from home feel.
Spend the afternoon tanning at the sparkling blue poolside, read a book in the library, or simply relax on the deck of your chalet, and watch the beautiful bushbuck grazing.
Game drive times vary depending on the season, and a usual summers day will have you meeting for high tea at 4pm in the main lodge area. Coffee and tea are served with an assortment of scrumptious biscuits and cakes, before meeting your guide and embarking on your safari.
Game drive lasts for 2-3 hours depending on your sightings, and before dusk your guide will find an open area to stop at for sundowners. You’ll be served some South African snacks; Biltong, droerwors and dried fruits, which you’ll wash away with a refreshing tipple, as you watch the last rays of the warm African sun melt away on the horizon, and chat with your guide as he entertains you with intriguing tales and close encounters of his life in the bush.
The guides from all three camps (Camp Shawa, Camp Shonga and Shishangeni) keep in touch over radio during game drive which ensures that no sightings are missed, and the chances are always high that by the time you make it back to the lodge you will have seen all of the big 5. (The Southern area of the Kruger National Park has the best game viewing).
Upon returning to Shishangeni you’ll be greeted with warm, refreshing face cloths, given a chance to head back to the room to freshen up, followed by a delicious dinner. Dinner is either served in the main dining area, or in the boma area. With a few starters, main course and dessert options. The staff is constantly at your beck and call, and will never leave you wanting for anything. Enjoy your dinner as you listen to soft African music, quietly playing in the background.
Quite notably it is the little things on safari that make it most enjoyable, one that is particularly favored at Shishangeni is the little chocolate left on the pillow wishing you sweet dreams, and a bedtime story … Why the porcupine has no quills and more…
When climbing in to those white, soften linen sheets… and putting your head down on a soft feathery pillow, you’ll be greeted by the evening bush choir. A hyenah laughing in the distance, a night jar whistling, the sound of two hippos having a heated argument, the kings of the bush, the mighty lions roaring in to the starry night sky… a way to ensure that you’ll dream of Africa, you’ll dream of Africa forever.
There is something utterly exciting about waking up early, enjoying a delicious cup of coffee, and snacking on a rusk (another South African delicacy), and heading out on safari in search of the shy leopard, the majestic elephant bull, or the magnificent herds of buffalo spread over kilometers. Along your journey, your guide will stop to watch the sunrise and enjoy a cup of something hot… great for those in desperate need of their caffeine fix in the early morning.
Return back in time for a scrumptious breakfast to really kick start your day. Shishangeni boasts some of the best Italian coffee from Illy, and breakfasts are delectable offering full English breakfast options, fresh fruit, yoghurt, pastries and cereals.
Other activities can be arranged on request for an additional fee. Bush walks with an experienced guide are also offered.
Many favour the township tour to Orlando, and enjoy spending time with underprivileged children from the area. Majority of the cost that is paid to participate in the tour, Shishangeni uses to give back to the local community, by donating food to the crèche where these children go to school and the disabled children’s home in the area. These children are sometimes provided with only one full meal a day and although it is a sad notion, it gives warmth and light to think that Shishangeni helps to make a difference, and keep little tummies from going hungry.
When your time at Shishangeni comes to a close, you’ll depart feeling rested and rejuvenated… and It’s almost a guarantee that you will leave a little piece of your heart behind in the hopes that not too long in to the distant future, you’ll return again to Shishangeni to find it.