How do you put into words an experience that was indescribable? That’s exactly what our visit to Hamilton’s Tented Camp was, beyond words. However, as a writer it is just as much my duty as it is my job to put words to it. So here it goes, I will try my best to do our time spent at Hamilton’s justice.
First of all, as big fans of the Kruger, we were thrilled to offer our customers luxurious and authentic options in the Muluwati Concession, within the Kruger Park itself. We were well-aware that we were visiting extraordinary camps with the greatest of reputations. Yet, the moment we got out of the car, we knew Hamilton’s was something different.
When we arrived, Jesse and I were greeted by a welcoming committee of friendly, warm people. The lodge manager sat with us in the lounge, while we completed Covid forms, and he answered our endless questions about the camp. Everything we laid our eyes on made us feel like as if we had stepped into a different era.
Don’t get me wrong, nothing was ‘old’ or ‘worn out’. All the details were antique and classy almost ‘bourgeoisie’, from another century entirely (Steven Hamilton's era, obviously).
The lack of cellphone reception and the tables set up with Steven Hamilton’s binocs and explorer hat, added to the back-in-the-day vibe. With a spectacular view of the river and amongst the trees, we had a mouthwatering 3-course lunch prepared by the chef – lamb chops and garlic potato mash for mains, it was WOW.
Thereafter we were escorted to our private luxury tent. The only modern things being the air con and amenities (radio to contact reception; hair dryer; plug points; soaps). From the bed frame and couches to the lantern-lights and light switches, suitcase crates and glassware, every detail was on-point – antique yet luxurious at the same time. Again, this made us feel like we were pleasantly transported through time. Let's not forget the outdoor shower, watching a fish eagle fish in the river below. And for those who are not that adventurous, the luxury bath with the view does the trick.
Our private guide then took us on a game drive through the concession where we spotted zebra, elephant and a barn owl among other animals. We made our sundowner pit stop at the unfenced Hoyo Hoyo Safari Camp (which could have a whole article in itself), ignited in a vibrant character of its own. Hoyo Hoyo's home-made Amarula was a delight.
On our way back to Hamilton’s, we were lucky enough to see a male leopard right next to us. He growled at us and disappeared into the bush.
Pumped with adrenaline from the evening’s sightings, we returned to the camp for dinner. Another 3-course fine-dining meal (needless to say we were both in our happy place) without the distraction of our phones and eating to the natural sounds of the bush, a unique music genre.
The camp’s atmosphere at night is romantic and tranquil. It’s not like Jesse and I to have an early night, but sleeping sound at Hamilton’s before 10 was easy. At some point during the night, the bush was so alive that it woke me up. I nudged Jesse with a “Psst, what was that?! Jesse did you hear that?”. We heard hippos in the river, hyena calls and even lions raw. The unfenced, secluded nature of the tent made us feel like it was just us, out in the bush, safely in our tent.
Our early morning game drive, following an epic sunrise, was enjoyable yet nippy and uneventful. We stopped for morning coffee at Imbali (which also could have a whole article written just about it). We did our best to track lions after seeing their spoor* and hearing them during the night, to no avail. We left Hamilton’s with a farewell song and so much to chat about as we headed for Orpen Gate.
A few minutes later, while on the road back to the present day, we found cat tracks on the road. Out of nowhere, a female lion was lying down, just a few metres from us. What a way to top off our exit.
Hamilton’s was truly like nothing we've experienced ever before. If you’re looking for a true, authentic, luxury, off-the-grid safari – or something extra special, this one’s for you.