Just got back from visiting Arathusa this past week. IT WAS AMAZING! I always wanted to experience a more traditional safari but still have some luxuries. I wanted to still feel like I was camping yet be more comfortable (Everything there is 5 star, but windows get opened in your rooms so you may encounter some bugs, but they have the netting for around your bed every night so you can sleep comfortably). For me air conditioning, a nice room (not a tent), and excellent food was a must. I got to stay in the Jackleberry room, which was a honey moon suite, with my own private plunge pool right by the watering hole and was at the end of the units that people stay in, giving me a more open to nature experience. I didn’t want a lodge that had too many people and wanted a more exclusive traditional experience. I also didn’t want to feel like I was at a hotel, I wanted to have a nice walk to my room, perhaps get a chance to have a nice animal encounter through the grounds. I chose not to have a guide walk with me each day back and forth, and it was such a thrill every time I walked back to my room thinking that there could be a elephant right around the corner. Of course they do explain to you how to handle yourself in case you run into any animals, and they offer a guide to walk you to your room if you are nervous or uncomfortable. They are big on safety and comfortability, and they do everything they can to make sure you have a wonderful stay.
Arathusa was the right place on so many levels for me. The cook, Dion, was so elegant and made me feel like we were dining at a five star restaurant every night. The food he cooked was amazing! He made extra efforts to find local foods, as at the time I was there it was a bit difficult to get the game meat shipped into the bush there. He made me feel like I was dining like a king, and the food showed it! The dining experience was just like I had hoped. Again traditional safari style, we all ate as a group for every meal at the respective time and got to sit out with a view of the watering hole. Being able to see all the animals in the background during our meals was like a dream for me. The meals were also a great opportunity to get to know the other travelers that I went on game drives with and were staying at the lodge with me.
All the staff was very kind and attentive. I went alone and they made extra efforts to keep me company giving me a chance to get to know them through conversation and they were very polite and friendly. If you needed anything they did everything they could to get it for you. Mereeka (which is probably not the way you spell it) was the assistant manager. She saw my enthusiasm and interest in their lodge and went above an beyond to show me around and explain all the wonderful changes and upgrades that they are making for 2017. She also was extremely kind and attentive, and through my conversations with the staff I could tell she was well respected by everyone she managed. Not to mention she would host the dinners at night and wore the most beautiful dresses making me feel like I was a prince being catered by a princess.
The safari drives were everything I expected and more! I got to see all the big 5. This included a great opportunity at seeing leopard cubs. It added such a beautiful touch to the experience. I was also lucky enough to see a rare encounter for tourists between the leopard and a few hyenas. The hyenas were trying to get to one of the cubs up in a tree. During that experience you could tell how much my guides, Cedric and Norman, cared for and respected the animals in their area of Kruger. I know they wanted so badly to chase the hyenas away to leave the cubs alone, but they respect the wildlife there and the natural order of the eco-system and they do not interact with the wildlife. The only interactions that any of these animals receive with humans is the jeeps pulling up to them to get pictures by the tourists, knowing this added to the overall feel of the experience that we were in the wild viewing wild animals, not animals tamed or trained in a circus or trapped in a zoo. Of course you have to remember this, there is a possibility of not seeing some animals. They could be doing their natural “walk-abouts” out of their territories or even on a migration to find food an water. I could see so much passion in my guides Cedric and Norman, they had so much knowledge of the wildlife, I feel that they made my experience one of a kind, one that I feel I will never get anywhere else but at Arathusa….
If you want a comfortable more traditional safari experience, a place that makes you feel like you are royalty, and has a great chance to see the wildlife in their natural habitat, then Arathusa is the place to go. I am already contemplating a second trip later this year.
For me the only negative thing about Arathusa and it’s staff is that I am afraid that my experience there has spoiled any possible chance of any other vacation being able to compare to my experiences there. Arathusa and it’s staff gets 10 stars from me and a little bit of my heart….
If anyone at Arathusa gets a chance to see this please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Would like to talk about coming back already!