One of the first things we noticed about Jock Safari’s Fitzpatrick Lodge was that it immediately felt like you were among family. We arrived early as the employee at the Pezulu Treehouse we had come from had told us the trip would take a lot longer than it actually did.
Though our room was not yet ready, and there was no lunch to be had as the new arrivals were not scheduled to arrive until much later, it felt like the whole staff were falling over themselves to be helpful, make us sandwiches for lunch, and made us feel like nothing was too much trouble. Before we knew it we had eaten lunch and our room was ready.
Fitzpatrick’s one-big-happy-family feel really rubs off on all guests at the lodge, making it easy for guests to relax and get to know each other.
Walking into the room, especially after just staying in a luxury tree house, we were still amazed at the luxury and comfort this five-star lodge provided. The room was spacious, with a private deck overlooking the dry river bed, where all sorts of wildlife passed by. You definitely have the peacefulness and feel of seclusion while you’re within your quarters. There is a small shared pool and deck area, but we were too busy with each safari to use them. We were at Fitzpatrick’s Lodge for the equivalent of two nights and three days; long enough for four game drives.
The food at Jock is second to none and the chef was very friendly. After arriving back from each game drive the Amarula and hot chocolate was delicious and started a new addiction of ours. We were at Jock in September 2012 and even though the weather was beautiful (except for a little rain one day, which also ruined our outdoor BOMA dinner), the safari drives still did get a bit cold.
Since we were early we figured we would get some shut-eye before the first Safari opportunity. We had just crawled into bed when the phone rang. It was Ranger Pete inviting us out on a quick drive down to the river bed to see hundreds of Cape Buffalo. Though we were tired, we were absolutely thrilled and thankful for the call and quickly grabbed our camera and ran out the door to meet Pete at the safari vehicle. Seeing such a big heard of buffalo in the river bed was incredible. There seemed to be at least a couple hundred of them.
Your South African safaris experience will be mostly driven by two people – the Host and the Ranger, who you could spend at least 8 hours with each day. We were really blessed with both Naomi and Ranger Pete, as well as the other fabulous and friendly staff. The passion and all-out enthusiasm Pete had for wildlife rubbed off on us all. It always felt like we were the first to leave and the last to come back to the lodge and we loved every moment in between.
Animal sightings were plentiful and it was an incredible feeling to be able to see such amazing animals within their natural habitat.
When we first entered Kruger National Park and were making our way to the Jock Lodge, we were very lucky to see all of the Big Five, except the Leopard. We approached three Rhinos that were hanging out on the side of the road. Common sense told us to keep our distance and we tried to go as wide as we could around them. One of the Rhinos could have cared less we were there, but the other two were so agitated that every time we slowly edged up on the other side of the road to pass, they would both back up a couple steps, take their front leg and grind it along the dirt as if they were getting ready to charge. We kept trying to inch up, and ended up backing off several times before the Rhinos decided we were not worth it and carried on their way down the road and into the bush.
It may not sound terrifying reading the words, but we were so freaked out as we tried to figure out what the smartest thing to do would be.
During the game drives we were lucky to see the Big Five and beyond. We saw all of the Big Five in one game drive alone. We sat during sun-downers (snacks and drinks) and watched a pride of Lions with several Lion Cubs relax by the side of the road. The Lions even came right up beside the safari vehicle to a puddle for a drink of water, not phased at all that we were sitting there, watching their every move. The Leopard we only ever caught in the distance, proving how elusive they really are. It was also really cool to see a Hippo in the river bed and wandering around out of water, which is apparently not a common sight. We also saw plenty of Rhino, Elephant, Buffalo, Giraffe, Kudu, Hyenas, Wild Dog and an insane amount of Impala, or as Pete referred to them, the McDonald’s of Kruger National Park.
It truly was incredible to see the animals in their natural habitat and to be educated on their ways of life.
We thought it was incredible how detailed Pete was in his animal “scanning”, right down to spotting beetles, a scorpion, a chameleon, and a snake, from what felt like miles away, getting out of the vehicle to temporarily put it into a container (when needed) so we could view and learn about the bug, before releasing it to the same place it was found.
Everything about Jock Safari was truly top- notch.
We would return in a heartbeat.
We highly recommend Jock Lodge if you are thinking about trying a Safari.
What was your first Safari experience like? Was it a positive one?