We were thoroughly swept off our feet on our very first safari trip. We chose an experience with &Beyond, as we were first captivated by how they operated and marketed themselves online. Being our first safari experience, we didn’t want anything less. Truly (and we mean, truly)…we were not one bit disappointed – but incredibly impressed.

Our drive from Johannesburg was long, about 6 hours which included a 1 hour drive in Kruger National Park at 40km/hr before reaching Ngala Private Lodge. Instantly, the tiredness from the long drive disappeared when we were greeted by their cheerful staffs who offered us homemade lemonade and cool wet towels. A quick 3 minute walk to our lodge plus some orientation – immediately made us fall in love with this place and people.

We were ushered into our lodge, a dainty thatched cottage with a huge plush king-sized bed. There was a small seating area and a outdoor verandah overlooking bushland. Set dense among mopane trees, the cottages were well shedded from the scorching afternoon sun.

Ngala Safari Lodge Ngala Safari Lodge

Lunch (and all meals) were not only scrumptious but uniquely tailored. Traditional african delicacies were served and carefully crafted to ensure we were more than fed (or, ‘fat’). Lunch and breakfast were held in their dining lounge area, and sometimes, at our lodge’s verandah overlooking virgin jungles. Our eyes kept peeled into the wild, as small animals run free; from squirrels to warthogs to baboons – right at our doorstep.

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Dinner was special as every night held a surprise. The first night, the veil between the dining area and ‘backdoor’ was removed – converting it into a candlelight only dinner. Lots of candles and kerosene lamps decked the entire room, with tables set at least 20-30 feet apart. Our butler, Patrick was always ready to help, we even got into a friendly banter on football and the upcoming World Cup.

On the second night, it was a traditional “Boma” dinner at the courtyard. During the day, the courtyard was hidden from the guests and after our evening game drives and a warm shower, we were escorted to an open air backyard with again, lots of candles and lamps all over. Food was undoubtedly fabulous, probably the best sausages and pork tenderloin, I’ve tasted ever!

Ngala Safari Lodge

Morning and evening game drives were interjected with a ‘picnic’ – in the middle of the jungle. Our friendly and experienced ranger, Mike and our trekker Elvis would normally whipped out a mini table and laid a mini cloth – and within seconds, were ready with: well placed mugs/cups, snacks (which includes nuts, sausages and dried mangoes), all kinds of beverages (from plain water to soda to alcoholic drink – includes even rum!)…and after a snap of their finger and a bright smile – they turned from guides to waiters! Splendid!

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&Beyond takes pride by doing well through doing good. Indeed, we saw their commercial work being manifested in the building of the community surrounding them. We took a ride to visit the neighbouring community and thoroughly impressed by the amount of effort – both financially and through job provision, how much they have impacted the community around them.

Ngala Safari Lodge

Definitely looking forward to our next &Beyond experience!