Many times I have seen venues describing themselves as ‘ ...an ideal honeymoon destination’ I got to put these words to the test when my wife and I spent our honeymoon at Hamiltons Tented Camp.
Situated within the Kruger National Park,this exclusive tented camp took us back to era when exceptional service levels and accommodation were the norm.
As we had spent the whole day driving from Johannesburg we were somewhat tired and dusty on our arrival.But a welcoming drink soon cleared the dust from our throats and the walk to our 'tent' certainly stretched our legs.
The tents are connected to the main lodge by a series of wooden walkways,which means that often you are able to look down at antelope wandering underneath you.There was a resident bushbuck family that spent a lot of time watching us watching them.There were also several kudu have made the area around the camp their home.After dark we had to be accompanied to and from our tent by a staff member.But we never felt that we were in danger at any time.
Talking about staff,each tent is assigned it's own butler who is there to make your stay even more special.We had never come across this sort of service before and it took us some time to get used to it.
The words 'Tented Camp' are misleading in as much as the accommodation only resembles a tent because it is made out of canvas.Those of us who spent holidays camping those old fashioned army tents will know what I mean.
But this luxurious accommodation is very different.Our front door opened into a large main bedroom,which had a seating area and a desk.The en-suite bathroom and toilet both have a view of the surrounding bush.We found that our outdoor shower was being used as a gym by the resident baboons!They tend to swing on the shower head,which is fun for the guests to watch, but not for the camp's maintenance crew.We did encounter some minor accommodation problems on our arrival,however these were quickly and efficiently sorted our by the camp manager,Gary Segal.
We came back from our first dinner to find our single beds changed into a king size.Candles had been placed all around the bedroom and bathroom.There was champagne was chilling in an ice bucket and a bubble bath waiting for us to enjoy! We could not have asked for a better end to our first day as a married couple.
Because Hamiltons is in a malaria area the bed had the largest and best mosquito net we have ever slept under.The area is sprayed regularly,but the usual anti malaria precautions should be taken.
Each of the tents has it's own veranda which overlooks the river and each suite has been situated in such a way that we felt that we were the only people in camp.
A very important aspect for us seeing it was our honeymoon!
The main lodge building consists of a lounge,large veranda and dining area.In fact,we had a choice of dining areas.The main lodge is done up in true colonial style,with old suitcases and a variety of interesting objects and memorabilia that take the guests back to a time where there was no Internet,no cell phones and life was a lot slower.(There is no cell/Internet reception at the camp,which made our time there really peaceful!)On our first night we were seated indoors, a wonderful and romantic candle lit dinner.All the rest of our meals were served on the veranda at a communal table.We could have eaten at a separate table,but it allowed us the opportunity to meet the international guests.The chef really out did himself with every meal and the food and presentation were outstanding.
Why is it that bush holidays make you eat more than you should?I am not to sure,but I do know that both my wife and I enjoyed every meal without reservation.
In front of the main lodge building is a huge Jackalberry tree which was full of a wide variety of birds and even a troupe of baboons which visited from time to time.
Because we had arrived late on the first day we did not get to go on the afternoon game drive,but chose to spend our time relaxing and exploring the camp.
The following morning our ranger decided to make up for lost time by taking us on the longest game drive we have ever been on.We were out for 6 hours but the game that we saw made the time seem to fly by.
The drive began with us spending time with a family of lions and their cubs.For the first time we got to see cubs playing with the male and being allowed to climb all over him without him getting annoyed.The lioness was lying close by just watching the interaction.At one point one of the cubs took a closer look at our vehicle without either of the adults getting to stressed about his inquisitive nature.
At the end of the drive we found not one but two leopards busy trying to relax in a tree.I have not seen leopard in the bush for about 15 years,so the sighting was very special.Although the cats were certainly the highlight of the drive,we also got to see many other species of game and birds,all which kept us from looking at our watches.
In fact we were very lucky because during the course of our stay we were able to see all the big five,which was a huge bonus for both of us!
Brunch,after this marathon drive was very welcome and of gargantuan proportions.I think the kitchen was trying to out do the game drive by the number of dishes on offer.
Luckily it did not take us six hours to eat breakfast,although there was enough food to keep us at the table longer than usual.
Like most game lodges the main part of the day is for relaxing and my wife used this opportunity to have a massage next to the swimming pool.Hamiltons offers a variety of beauty treatments which are all competently carried out by locally trained therapists.
We were told that elephants often drink the pool water,but although there was evidence of their presence,we did not get to see them in camp.
The four days that we spent there were really not enough.There were foreign tourists on a return visit who were spending ten days at the camp...so Hamiltons Tented Camp must be doing something right.
As far as a honeymoon venue goes,we both gave it full marks for service,comfort and style.And it is this sense of style that sets Hamiltons apart for other lodges we have visited.Meals were served using fine china plates and silver cutlery.We also had to be walked to and from or suite after dark.
On one afternoon we decide not to do lunch in the main dining area and we were served the most wonderful meal in our suite.This time with a silver tea service.
We were told that the camp can also organize wedding ceremonies,but with a limited number of tents available,the camp can only accommodate 12 people, it would be an intimate wedding.
At Hamiltons Tented Camp we discovered some of what it must have been like during the time that Col Steven Hamilton(after whom the camp is named) roamed this area.The fine dining and accommodation hark back to a time when life was refined and more genteel.
Hamiltons Tented Camp truly lived up to its “Ideal Honeymoon venue”status.
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