Plains Camp Tented Lodge
PLAINS CAMP TENTED SAFARI LODGE
KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
ABOUT PLAINS CAMP
Home of Rhino Walking Safaris
After identifying a niche in the tourist market in 2002, Plains Camp (home of Rhino Walking Safaris) decided to offer specialist walking safaris to nature lovers in search of a truly unique African safari experience.
This exquisite Kruger Tented Safari Lodge is set in the middle of the iconic Kruger National Park in South Africa, one of the world’s most prestigious wildlife havens.
Plains Tented Camp Kruger is an intimate camp of stylishly appointed en-suite tents that nestle in the shade of a knobthorn cluster. Plains offers exclusive traversing in 12 000 hectares of pristine bushveld in the only official wilderness concession awarded in the Kruger National Park. Approximately 10km north-east of Skukuza Rest Camp, the concession shares a 15km boundary with Mala Mala in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, with game moving freely between the two reserves. This creates the perfect setting for a truly authentic African wildlife experience in the internationally renowned Big Five reserve, the Kruger National Park.
Plains SafarI Lodge Kruger is situated at the confluence of the Mutlumuvi and Tswiriri rivers. It is named after the vast Timbitene Plain with its breathtaking views in all directions, which can be enjoyed from the camp. The rivers behind the camp are usually both dry but can flow quite strongly in the event of heavy localized rains.
An eco-friendly footprint and sustainability define this camp’s design and construction. The whole lodge rests on stilts. No concrete was used in its construction, as the structures are all made from canvas. The camp is solar-powered and great effort was taken not to disturb the natural environment – not a single tree was cut down!
Plains Tented Camp is the home of the rhino walking safari. This unique way of traversing wild Africa, provides an experience like no other – getting up close and personal with Africa’s magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. Here guests share the space with the Big Five – elephant, rhino, buffalo, leopard and lion, as well as a host of other unique species such as the shy African wild dog, amongst others. Each experience at Plains Camp has adventure and adrenalin at its core. Here you can feel the pulse of Africa under your feet.
The camp offers lovers of the bush unique experiences such as sleep-outs under the African sky, the rare opportunity of approaching a rhino on foot, or even making eye-contact with the gentle giants of the bush – the African elephant.
Plains Camp is the destination of choice for those in search of a bush adventure without compromising on luxury and comfort. The African safari experience simply does not get better than this! Sharing a common boundary with the famous Mala Mala Game reserve for 14km (8.7 miles), is a sure guarantee that guests can expect to see an abundance of game on their luxury Kruger Park safaris.
This adventure safari lodge in Kruger National Park is built in true pioneer tradition, reflecting all the charm of a 19th century colonial retreat. Ideal for guests seeking a true “Back to Africa” experience, Rhino Walking Safaris is the only lodge in Kruger to offer a rhino walking safari during which guests can enjoy a sleep-out on elevated decks under the African sky. On these 4 metre high elevated wooden platforms nature lovers in search of something unique, can indulge in a peaceful slumber under the stars.
No children under the age of 12 years old are permitted at Rhino Walking Safaris or at the sleep-out decks.
ACCOMMODATION AT PLAINS CAMP
Plains Camp Tented Safari Lodge in Kruger Park reflects colonial tradition and accommodation is offered in 4 magnificent African explorer-style tents. Beautifully decorated and boasting en-suite bathrooms and modern amenities, guests are assured of luxurious privacy in the middle of the wilderness.
The lodge has a communal lounge and dining area, plunge pool and an outdoor fireplace.
Four comfortably furnished African explorer style tents, en-suite toilet and a shower with hot running water and all the comforts of home, bring the African wilderness to your doorstep. All the rooms feature twin beds and are fitted with overhead fans. Although the beds do not have individual mosquito netting, all the tent openings are protected by gauze flaps.
A generator and a back-up battery provide 24-hour lighting. This generator system can also be used to recharge camera batteries at designated times throughout the day. An Africana book collection and antique treasures, reminiscent of a golden era in this part of Africa’s pioneering history, contribute to the lodge’s ambience.
At Plains Camp guests can enjoy spectacular views of the Timbitene plain, which is the playground for a myriad of wildlife species. Here you can sip on a refreshing cocktail on one of the comfy recliners next to the pool on the main deck, while watching zebra, buffalo and elephant at play, or even catching a glimpse of a pride of lion quenching their thirst at the nearby waterhole. Service here is geared at making your stay one of luxury and comfort, and the friendly staff will cater to your every whim.
• Overhead fans
• En-suite toilet and shower
• Gauze flaps on tent openings
CAMP FACILITIES AT PLAINS CAMP
• Plunge pool
• Communal lounge and dining area
• Outdoor fireplace
• Sleep-out Decks
ACTIVITIES AT PLAINS CAMP
Plains Camp offers a variety of activities, very different from most at other safari lodges. If it is adventure you are after, look no further. At Plains Camp we are dedicated to getting the adrenalin pumping!
The camp’s rangers and field guides meet the stringent requirements of South African National Parks, and senior guides hold the highest guiding qualification possible in South Africa to ensure that wildlife encounters in this African wilderness are exciting, informative, and safe.
Walking Safaris at Plains Camp
Morning walks in the company of armed and experience rangers take place early to ensure that you return to camp before it gets too hot. In the early morning the bush is most alive as the animals get on with their business before the heat of the day takes its toll. The average morning walk takes 3-5 hours, totalling 5-12km.
The terrain is fairly even but comfortable walking shoes are a necessity. It is advisable to walk in long trousers to protect your legs from grass and thorns. Before departure, your guide will issue you with back or hip-packs to carry, containing water and fruit juice. The assistant trail guide carries a first-aid kit, as well as snacks for a refreshment break during the walk.
Experiencing Africa from this perspective, whilst feeling its pulse under your feet, is a thrill like no other. The anticipation of a possible sighting of one of the majestic Big Five, will keep the adrenalin flowing.
Your ranger will teach you astonishing secrets of the wilderness, and point out the intricacies of nature, both its fauna and flora. The scents and sounds of the bush will awaken your senses, and sightings such as that of the highly endangered white rhino, are experiences which will stay with you for as long as you live.
Encounter animals in their natural habitat on their terms and knowing that these activities are not harmful to nature, makes this experience even more memorable. A percentage of your spend also goes directly to the conservation of this pristine wilderness.
Upon your return to camp you can enjoy a scrumptious light lunch, after which you can retreat to your tent to while the afternoon away with a great book from the library. Or you can simply laze in the pool while watching the animals quench their thirst at the waterhole. Avid bird watchers can experience a wide variety of feathered friends through the lenses of their binoculars. The choice is yours.
In the late afternoon, after enjoying afternoon tea accompanied by delectable treats, you will be ready to head out on a game drive in an open safari vehicle. As the bush come alive again after the heat of the day, an abundance of thrilling sightings awaits in this wild expanse of wilderness. There will be time to enjoy sundowners en-route while watching the spectacular African sunset. Then – later – watching the beam of the spotlight as its searches for nocturnal animals in the darkness, is a thrilling experience.
Back at camp, you can sit down for a sumptuous safari-inspired dinner around the fire and indulge in pleasant conversation about your day in the bush.
The sleep-out decks overlook the Xiteveteve waterhole and is the ultimate bush experience for the more adventurous.
This is an activity we offer usually as part of the walking trail experience from Plains Camp or occasionally (by prior arrangement, and by vehicle – not walking) from Rhino Post. Guests sleep on individual sleeping decks, connected by ladders and walkways to one another and the main deck. Dinner is cooked over an open fire.
Guests depart on foot from Plains Camp to the platforms, arriving in the early evening carrying a lightweight rucksack containing a change of clothes. Sundowners are then enjoyed on the platforms overlooking a waterhole.
Sleep-out Decks Quick Facts
• 4 platforms two mattresses per platform – with sleeping bags, and duvets
• elevated dining area
• 8 guests per sleep-out
• 2 armed rangers per sleep-out
• decks overlook waterhole
• 2 bathrooms with hot showers and flushing toilets.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE that, if the first guest to reserve their trail requests the sleep-out, all subsequent reservations will be required to participate. Likewise, if the first guest to reserve their trail makes it clear that they do not want to do a sleep-out, all subsequent reservations for those dates will be unable to book a sleep-out from Plains Camp.
The Plains Camp sleep-outs are weather dependent. Its feasibility is affected not only by rain on the day, but also the day or two prior to the sleep-out, as the decks are situated in a very sensitive ecological area. This area cannot be accessed after heavy rains without a high level of erosion risk to the access road.
This is the only lodge in the Kruger National Park offering this unusual accommodation.
Because the maximum number of people on a walking safari is limited to eight, we regret we cannot accommodate 3 people in one tent. The third person will have to occupy his/her own tent.
5 GOOD REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER PLAINS TENTED CAMP FOR YOUR AFRICAN WALKING SAFARI:
1. Experienced and knowledgeable guides
When contemplating traversing the wilderness on foot, in an area rich in wildlife such as the somewhat infamous Big Five, you want to know that you are in safe hands. Guides at Rhino Walking Safaris hold the highest possible academic and practical qualification for guiding on foot and are backed up by assistant trails rangers with a lifetime of experience: our assistant Trails Rangers are recruited from the pool of SANParks Field Rangers, most of whom have spent almost all of their working lives patrolling the Kruger National Park for signs of poaching, disease or unusual activity.
2. Camp Comforts
Most wilderness trails either involve carrying and pitching tents or staying in a fairly basic base camps – with shared ablution facilities, simple meals and no bar facilities (though you may bring your own drinks). Plains Camp is a well-appointed camp with large en-suite tents, comfortable extra-length beds and quality linens. An honesty bar (with soft drinks, beers, ciders and house wines included in the rate), and a plunge pool in which to cool off on a hot day ease the challenges of camp living. The chef prepares a hearty brunch and three-course dinner from the freshest ingredients. An afternoon High Tea accompanied by delicious baked treats will tantalise the taste buds. Dinner served at a table set with white linen, candles and silverware, is the best way to end an exciting day in the bush.
With 12 000 hectares of unspoiled wilderness to explore (not previously accessible to the public – and currently only accessible to guests of Rhino Walking Safaris), there is very little to disturb you while out walking. The guides can choose to walk from the camp, or to drive out and walk from the vehicle – all without encountering any public visitors to the park.
4. The opportunity to experience nature, using all your senses
There are different “layers” to experiencing the bush. The first and most commonly done, is to go on game drives in search of bigger game and different landscapes. The second, for serious bush lovers and connoisseurs – or those looking for a more intimate experience – is that of seeing everything from the ground. Walking, taking in the sights, sounds and scents of nature – even tasting wild fruits and learning about the intricacies sometimes missed while our driving; not to mention experiencing the thrill of seeing big game on foot, is a priceless experience. With a four-hour morning walk and shorter late-afternoon walk combined with a brief game drive, there is plenty of opportunity for getting the most out of these experiences.
5. Additional exciting experiences, including the option to pre-book additional nights at Rhino Post Safari Lodge or the sleep-out decks
Rhino Post Safari Lodge is situated a mere 10km from Plains Camp, the ideal place to start or end your walking safari – with in-room massages, a deep free-standing bath tub and an outdoor shower to ease you back into (or out of!) civilization. Game drives in this game-rich area are usually very productive. The third layer of this bush experience is the opportunity to forsake it all and sleep out on a raised deck (our sleep-out decks) on a high-density foam mattress with nothing but a soft duvet and shade cloth between you and the stars. The more adventurous should consider booking this as an add-on.
GETTING TO PLAINS CAMP
Plains Camp Tented Safari Lodge is situated in the southern part of Kruger National Park, South Africa, only a 20-minute drive from Skukuza.
The Kruger National Park is home to a diverse array of wildlife species, from the mighty African elephant and the endangered white and black rhino, to the smallest steenbok. The region is also renowned for its excellent birdlife, boasting more than 500 recorded bird species.
Access by Road:
4 x 4 access not required. Kruger National Park has 9 entrances on its South African border and 2 on its Mozambican border. Paul Kruger Gate is the nearest entrance to Rhino Walking Safaris.
Directions from Kruger Gate to Plains Tented Safari Lodge Kruger
• After entering the Kruger Gate (Kruger National Park), drive on for approximately 12km (7,4 miles).
• Once you reach a four-way stop, turn left (heading in the direction signposted Lower Sabi / Rhino Walking Safaris).
• After approximately 2km (1.2 miles) you will reach a T-junction.
• Turn left and drive about 1km (0.6 miles) up to another four-way crossing.
• Turn right and cross a low water bridge over the Sabi River.
• Travel for 4km (2.5 miles) and cross the bridge over the Sand River.
• You will pass a dirt road on your left, marked “Maroela Loop”, keep going straight on the tarred road. About 6km after the first “Maroela Loop” turn-off, you will pass another dirt road on your left, also marked “Maroela Loop”.
• Approximately 1km (0.6 miles) after this second “Maroela Loop”, turn left onto a dirt road signposted “Rhino Walking Safaris”.
• Continue on this dirt road for 2,5km (1,55 miles) and turn left.
• Travel another 2,7km (1, 6 miles) up to Rhino Post Lodge.
You will get a transfer from Rhino Post Lodge to Plains Tented Camp.
There are daily scheduled flights from Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) in Mbombela (Nelspruit). You can also fly directly from Durban or Cape Town. The flight duration from ORTIA to KMIA is about 55 minutes. Transfers between the airport and the camp will be arranged.
Private charters are available to Skukuza Airport, with an approximate half-hour road transfer in open safari vehicles, through the Kruger National Park to the lodge.
• Johannesburg to Rhino Walking Safaris via road – 7hrs
• Johannesburg to Rhino Walking Safaris via air & road – 1hr 30
• Cape Town to Rhino Walking Safaris via air – 3hrs
• Mbombela (Nelspruit) to Rhino Walking Safaris via road – 2hrs 30
• Rhino Walking Safaris to Thonga via air & road – 2hrs 45
• Rhino Walking Safaris to Kosi via air & road – 3hrs 45.
* Rhino Post Safari Lodge is accessible by a normal 2×4 vehicle. Travelling time by road from Johannesburg to Rhino Post Safari Lodge is approximately seven hours (500km).