When visiting the Kruger, we always sleep over at a commercial rest camp. After our last trail (Olifants) we had an extra couple of days to spend in the Kruger and we decided to try out one of the “Bush Camps” and booked ourselves and two friends into the Shimuwini Bushveld camp located Northwest of Letaba.
Shimuwini is a Shangaan word, roughly translated as ‘Place of the Baobab’. There are many of these majestic trees lining the Letaba River in this area.
Upon arrival we were met by Portia who helped us settle in. I was expecting very rustic accommodation (this is a “Bush” camp after all). Imagine my surprise when we had a big cottage with a nice big porch and fully equipped kitchen all to ourselves. There were two bedrooms with 2 single beds each. One of the bedrooms had an en suite bathroom. There was an additional shower and toilet as well.
The cottage has some nice modern finishes and we paid R 1 200.00 per night for the four of us. Probably a bit expensive if you’re a couple. In total there are 15 cottages sleeping from 4 to 6 people each in the bush camp. The cottages all have electricity, but unfortunately you cannot charge your cameras or cell phones here as the only plug available was used by the fridge and it was changed to the “Europlug” – those ancient three-pin square British ones. They probably did this because the generator causes surges and spikes in the electricity feed and could blow sensitive electronic devices.
Apparently the camp was rebuilt after the 2000 floods and I think it is a touch more modern than what could be expected from a “bush camp”. The kitchen is adjacent to the verandah/dining area. You could open up the kitchen’s sliding windows for easy access to the dining area. It was very comfortable. Later that evening it became quite gusty and we could close the dining area with canvass drapes that allowed us to enjoy our food without grit and sand strewn over the top.
There is a communal freezer at the reception area, and I’m sure if you ask Portia nicely she’ll allow you to charge your cell phone here (they had the standard plugs for whatever reason.)
There is a bird hide and Boma with a pool, but we didn’t visit this as we were only here for a day. They sell ice and wood at reception, but don’t expect to buy your meat, beers and salads at the bush camp. Stock up at Letaba or Phalaborwa if you’re coming from there.
A lush green lawn banks down to the Shimuwini dam, with an electric fence protecting you from the perils of the bush (or maybe its there to stop you from braaing on the river bank). We were visited by the resident Duiker called “Shine” if I remember her name correctly. Duiker usually live to about 10 years of age but she was already 15 years old, a true dame of the camp. We sat underneath some Leadwood and Jackalberry trees, watching a hippo protect its very young calf from an interested croc. Some elephant were grazing close by and we had a fantastic afternoon. We saw some Brown-headed parrot and Woodland Kingfisher in the surrounding trees.
We arrived on a big rugby day and I asked Portia if they had DSTV. The units do not have any TV’s (this is a bush camp after all!), but Portia was nice enough to set up her TV in the launderette for my personal viewing pleasure. About 10 minutes before the game started a small crowd had gathered in the makeshift viewing area. Life at its best! Watching a game in the bush with fellow bush AND rugby enthusiasts! So much to talk about.
Alas, we lost but it was still a fantastic experience.
After having experienced the Shimuwini bush camp I must admit that I am hooked. A maximum of 71 visitors are allowed in the camp, and the cottages are spaced quite far apart, allowing you to experience the bush in relative privacy. Apparently these bush camps are very popular, so you better book in advance.
My mind is made up, if I had the choice between a crowded rest camp and Shimuwini, Shimuwini would always win hands down.
More photos at http://www.africaskyblue.com/gallery/ph ... gust-2011/