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July 19, 2017
The Ultimate Arizona Road Trip Itinerary
August 14, 2017

Three Days in the Bush – A South Africa Safari

Elephant Family having a drink

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not really an outdoors guy. Don’t get me wrong I love spending time in nature, but I also like having the comfort and amenities of home or a nice hotel available to me. Our South Africa safari was the perfect combination of time in nature and home-like amenities for me. I don’t know if I have ever been more excited about a three day trip in my life! We visited South Africa during their winter season, so grasses were lower, the vegetation was lighter, so we had a great chance of seeing more animals.

Destination: Kruger National Park

south africa safari vehicle

Mal next to our safari vehicle

Kruger National Park is situated on the North Eastern side of South Africa bordering Mozambique. Kruger National Park is one of the premier holiday destinations in South Africa, and one of the premier safari destinations in the world due to its rich habitat and abundance of different animals. It encompasses an area that is almost 1000 square miles larger than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined! Because it is so large there are a few airports that serve the park, but we flew into Hoedspruit, an air force base that was partially converted into a civilian airstrip. With only 2 flights daily from Johannesburg and 3 weekly flights from Cape Town, this is a fairly difficult place to get to. Our South Africa safari lodge, & Beyond Ngala, has their own private airstrip, but we didn’t find that out until we got there.

south africa safari wildlife

We were greeted by this baby warthog and his two siblings a couple times in camp

&Beyond Ngala Safari Lodge

&Beyond Ngala South African safari lodge

Lunch Buffet al fresco

It was love at first sight when we arrived. Each “room” is a small cabin with a porch, outdoor shower area, living area, and large bathroom. One of the things we loved most was there was no TV. This allowed us to be more present and appreciate the beauty that was all around us. There are no fences around &Beyond, so we were greeted by warthogs and other wildlife outside our patio a few times! After the sun goes down you have a security guard guide you from the dining area to your room to make sure there are no creatures along the way. We saw baboons, honey badger, and bush babies on our night walks on the lodge grounds.

&Beyond Ngala South African safari lodge

Our porch at &Beyond Ngala South Africa safari lodge

&Beyond Ngala South African safari lodge

Our Outdoor Shower at &Beyond Ngala

&Beyond Ngala South Africa safari lodge

Huge Indoor Shower at &Beyond Ngala

&Beyond Ngala Kruger Park Safari Lodge

Big open bathroom at &Beyond Ngala

&Beyond Ngala Kruger Park Safari Lodge

Huge super comfortable bed!

&Beyond Ngala’s Staff

Staff at &Beyond Ngala South African safari lodge

Our butler Marcus and us

The staff at the &beyond safari lodge was more than friendly. In the 3 and a half short days we were there we developed a bond and it was actually really sad when we left because we had made new friends with these people! Each room is assigned a butler that looks after your dining needs and a guide for your bush drives. Marcus was our butler and he went above and beyond every day. On one of our evening game drives he even set up a candle lit snack stop under the stars!

Kruger Park Accomodation &Beyond Ngala

Candle lit snack stop

Our safari guide was Jenni. She was funny, informative, and really passionate about the animals and making sure we saw everything we hoped to see on the safari. I don’t think we could have asked for a better experience as we basically had Jenni all to ourselves! Some of the safari vehicles were completely full, but for us, there was just one other couple meaning we got better pictures and our safari was more tailored to what we wanted to do and see.

Kruger Park Accomodation &Beyond Ngala

Our guide Jenni with us before we left

The Best Safari in Africa

Kruger Safari Holiday

The skies were so clear you could easily see the milky way

We had no expectations of the African wildlife we would see going on our safari, but even if we had high expectations, they would have been shattered. On our first-afternoon game drive, we were able to see 4 of the “Big 5”- we saw leopard, lion, buffalo, and elephant all within a couple hours of arriving at &Beyond Ngala. The only one we missed was the rhino, which we saw pretty early the next morning! If you have never been on a safari, or even if you have &Beyond Ngala is an amazing place because of the difference in terrain that the property covers. The other couple that was with us were guides at another local camp and they said Ngala is by far the best game reserve in South Africa and probably the best safari in Africa.

Kruger Safari Lion

The power of this lion’s roar was amazing

If you’ve been following me on Instagram you are probably sick of all of my animal pictures, but for those of you who aren’t following me here are some of my favorites! Oh, and why aren’t you following me yet head over to Instagram right now and hit that follow button!

South Africa Safari Day 1: Almost the entire Safari Big 5

Kruger Park Safari Wildlife

Huge elephant bull

Some highlights from day 1 included a small elephant family eating and a massive elephant bull with some serious tusks. We saw a leopard keeping his eye on a herd of impala. And some sleepy male lions.

Kruger Park Safari Wildlife

The vigilante leopard

South Africa Safari Day 2: Happy Hour at the Waterhole

Kruger Park Safari Wildlife

Mother Rhino with her baby

Day 2 was probably the highlight of our entire trip to South Africa. We saw giraffe having a bite to eat at sunrise. We got to see a baby baboon that was all ears, A mother rhino with her baby, but the most amazing part was happy hour at the waterhole. On our way back to camp for breakfast, we stopped at the waterhole nearest to camp and there was close to 100 elephant!

Kruger Park Safari Wildlife

Elephant Family having a drink

Drinking, playing, a little fighting it was possibly the most amazing sight I have ever seen. While you are never guaranteed to see anything on an African Safari, at &Beyond Ngala you are likely to see all of the African wildlife you’ve ever dreamt of seeing! We got up close and personal with a cape buffalo, and that afternoon and were lucky enough to see 3 hyena pups, which may be the cutest animal babies ever.

Kruger Park Wildlife

A Hyena Pup

South Africa Safari Day 3: Big Cats

South Africa Safari Wildlife

Two cheetah Brothers

Our third day had the theme of big cats! We started our morning following a group of impala alerting towards the treeline. There we found the same leopard we saw the first afternoon. After following him for a bit we heard some excitement over the radio that three cheetah (rare for the area) were near the waterhole we saw all of the elephants at the day before, so quickly we headed that way. The three brothers crossed into a valley our trucks couldn’t follow, so we helped guide other trucks to them once they reached the other side.

South Africa Safari Wildlife

A Lone Zebra

Oddly enough we didn’t see any zebra until the third day, but we saw plenty that afternoon. We were able to catch another happy hour of giraffe and elephants at a different waterhole before ending our amazing safari experience with a pride of lions and not only seeing, but feeling the raw power of a male lions roar!

Our South African Safari Experience

South Africa Safari Wildlife

Up close and personal with a Cape Buffalo

We found ourselves constantly smiling the entire trip. Seeing how beautiful all of the animals were and how comfortable they were sharing the land with us was amazing. By the end of the trip, we already decided that we NEED to come back. The safari lodge was fantastic, the staff ended up feeling like close friends by the end of the trip, the food was so freaking good – there is no way you will be hungry if you visit &Beyond Ngala, and the amount and variety of wildlife was just so inspiring. I think it was during the second day’s afternoon game drive I realized that I was unhappy with my current work situation and that I needed it to change. I put in my two weeks notice the week I returned. If you have always wanted to do a safari, then I can’t recommend &Beyond Ngala enough, you will not regret it.

South Africa Safari Wildlife

Happy hour at the waterhole. This picture is our safari to a T.

During our South African Safari Holiday, I also took a ton of video. Make sure you’re subscribed to my YouTube channel because that will be dropping this weekend! Sign up for the Passports to Life newsletter so you never miss any of the travel tips, tricks, and inspiration. Like my facebook page and follow me on Instagram to see more as it happens! Thank you to all my readers and I hope this inspires you to cross things off your bucket list!

Full Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way, shape, or form for this review. I paid their regular rates and genuinely feel the way I portrayed myself in this blog post. &Beyond Ngala is probably the best safari lodge in Africa.


  1. […] In just four days we fell in love with this beautiful city. The people are so friendly, it seems like from anywhere in the city you have a view of the beautiful mountains or the sea, and there is a lot to do and see. I’d love to visit Cape Town during their spring or summer to also be able to enjoy the beach, maybe try surfing, then again with those great white sharks hanging out nearby maybe not. If you have never been to Africa or South Africa, Cape Town needs to be on your bucket list so you can see for yourself how magical this city is! The next stop on our trip of a lifetime is &Beyond Ngala private game preserve for our three-day safari! […]

  2. Guy Crotty says:

    Great article and very jealous on a few fronts. 1. that you stayed in an &Beyond lodge as have heard they’re amazing and 2. you saw baby Rhinos!!

  3. […] The first half of 2017 has been a busy one professionally for both Mallory and me. Mallory finished up her second year of her Doctor in Occupational Therapy program, and I took over managing the office at my job here in Tampa. Those things added up to not much travel, but that is about to change! This Friday we are departing on the trip of a lifetime including four stops, four countries, and a South African safari! […]

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