We will return to Kirkman’s anytime we wish to visit the southeastern corner of the Sabi Sand Reserve to explore the riverine areas and look forward to rewarding game viewing drives.

Overall Impression Kirkman’s Kamp was named for Lawrence Henry “Harry” Kirkman, a hunter turned conservationist, who established the property as a family cattle farm in the early 1900s. It was one of only two properties we have visited with access to the Sabi and Sand rivers of the well known Sabi Sand Reserve where it is located. Perhaps because of its proximity to two rivers this well run property also offered excellent birding.

At Kirkman’s we had the best sighting of a large-spotted genet (small cat) we had ever had, two nights in a row. We spotted new birds (for us) and saw some birds well for the first time. One morning I had the pleasure of quietly observing at my leisure two dainty female bushbucks feeding in the bush behind my room. Game drives were our favorite time at Kirkman’s. Our South African game drive companions were affable and considerate, and our ranger went out of her way to make sure we maximized our game drive time.

In addition to enjoyable game viewing of the Big Five and much more we especially appreciated some of the staff’s attentive touches. There were group surprises like ice cream during a game drive and a yummy bush breakfast with “bush pizza,” fresh fruit and bubbly; as well as individual ones on more than one occasion like a brownie in the morning (courtesy of Colleen), a drawn bubble bath on our return from the afternoon game drive (by our butler), Villiera sparkling wine at sundowners our last night, and fudge in a care bag on our departure.

We will return to Kirkman’s anytime we wish to visit the southeastern corner of the Sabi Sand Reserve to explore the riverine areas and look forward to rewarding game viewing drives.

Children The lodge welcomed children of all ages and we saw several children during our visit. Children six years of age and older were welcome on game drives. Families wishing to take children under six on game drives could hire a private vehicle. Baby sitting services (50 rand per hour) were available for children younger than six. Safety decisions were at the discretion of the ranger. Children twelve and older were welcome on bush walks. Children’s activities on offer during our visit included Popcorn and Videos, Bug Exploring Around the Lodge, Kiddies Dinner Parties, Animal Track and Dung Identification, Bark Rubbing, Lodge Treasure Hunt, Bush Treasure Hunt, Cookie Baking, and Kiddies Ranger Training Course.

Class Of Accommodation Luxury lodge

Connectivity There was a desk and a Dell computer for guest use with an ADSL connection in the television/computer room in the main building of the property; there was WiFi connectivity inside that building. Although it was a slow connection I was able to access emails the day we arrived. Due to a power outage resulting from a severe thunderstorm during our visit internet access was down part of the time we were at the Kamp.

General Manager Duncan Gordon who had eight years of experience in the bush was in charge of the property. A life in a safari property had been a dream of his since his youth when he used to vacation in the bush. Following the completion of his marketing studies in Cape Town, South Africa he attended an &Beyond training course, beginning his game viewing career. He began as a guide at Phinda Mountain Lodge before moving to the Sabi Sand Reserve. In 2007, he began working at Kirkman’s Kamp.

Handicapped Access Access to the rooms from the main area was via a dirt path. Some of the rooms were quite close to the main building.

Length Of Stay Three nights

Location Within the Kirkman’s Kamp Reserve in the southeastern corner of the Sabi Sand Reserve.

Managed &Beyond since 2006

Owned Stephen Saad

Pets Allowed No

Size The lodge was able to accommodate a maximum of 38 guests in 18 rooms with a staff of 75. There was an additional room for one pilot.

Year Opened-Renovated The main building of the property was established in the early 1900s as a private cattle farm house. In 1981, the property became a lodge. In 2006, the property underwent a major renovation during which the rooms were redesigned. Since then, it had undergone soft refurbishing of the rooms and main building including annual reupholstery of the couches and painting of the roof in 2010.

Lobby And Common Areas The entrance down an unpaved road led to a large green lawn with fever and marula trees and a main building. An acacia savannah surrounded the property which faced the Sand River. The lodge was built on a former colonial farm dating back to the early 1920s. The “old farm style” main building was white and open on several sides with a wrap around terrace and an iron corrugated roof. It housed an open terrace where meals and afternoon tea were served, an indoor dining room, an indoor living area with ample seating, a bar lounge, an internet room and a gift shop. The living areas of the main building were filled with period memorabilia including an oil painting of the property’s namesake owner, a collection of old rifles and historic photos on the walls. There was a large swimming pool about two hundred meters, across a second lawn, from the main building. It was built into the hill slope, looking over the lower area and facing the bush. There were a number of lounge chairs and umbrellas in the sun and additional chairs in a covered shady area. In the back there was a spa room for massages.

Guest rooms stretched out and away from the main building in a series of stand alone buildings with two rooms each. A dirt pathway led away from the main building which was on the highest ground toward the 18 rooms most of which were to the right facing the lower lying bush. The last four rooms where we stayed veered left from the main path.

Bathroom To the side of the entrance there was a bathtub with a large framed photo of an impala (a cheetah in Room 18). A toilet with a wood toilet seat took up the corner and next to it there was a sink below a wood framed mirror atop a wood cabinet. To the left of the sink there was a doorless shower with wood grating on the floor (the shower floor was uncomfortable to stand on and slippery at times).

Room We stayed in Rooms 17 and 18, two adjacent 36 square meter rooms that made up a stand alone building at the end of the guest rooms section. The new looking rooms were in individual buildings with space for two adjoining rooms per building. The rooms, in mirror image layout, were identical (Room 17 had screens on the windows and sliding glass doors). Except for the sound of the air conditioners and monkeys climbing on the roof at times, it was very quiet. To the left of the entrance there was a closet with ample shelf and hanging space. Facing the entrance and adjacent to the closet there was a wooden luggage rack. Putty colored walls and matching armchairs and white sheets and high white ceilings with recessed lights made the simple color theme.

To the right of the door in room 17 and to the left in 18 there was a wood topped built-in mini bar table with cut glasses, a jar of nuts, a jar of apricots, and lemon juice in a bottle. There was also a folder with information about the property, game viewing and community projects and old issues of National Geographic magazine. A blow dryer inside a canvas bag hung from a hook below the table. Next to it there was a garbage bin and mini refrigerator filled with beverages. The center of the room was home to two twin beds joined together under a blanket between white sheets and set against a flower pattern headboard. Matching glass topped round night tables with a table cloth and lamp framed the bed. The table on the right had a telephone. The floor in the room and bathroom was of polished concrete interrupted only by a runner in front of the bed. Two armchairs stood in the corner, adjacent to sliding glass doors, at an angle to each other and in front of an upright lamp.

The wall behind the bed was filled with ten wood and glass framed reproductions of old photos from the early days of the farm. On the wall across the bed, above the armchairs, there was a framed botanical (pied and malachite kingfishers in Room 18) painting. The temperature was controlled somewhat (temperatures remained at about 24 Celsius) via a ceiling fan and a wall mounted air conditioner set high on the wall to the right of the bed. New looking curtains with vertical stripes of khaki and pale blue covered the single path facing window and the sliding glass doors facing the bush in the back of the room. The sliding glass doors led onto a covered bush facing back deck with a table and two chairs.

Meals Usually meals, served in the outdoor terrace and lawn during our stay, were centered around game viewing times. Lunch, served at 1 p.m., was brought by our butler on a large platter from which we served ourselves. One day there were several salads (cucumber, corn and snow peas and Greek potato) and chicken kebobs. On our second day there was cold butternut soup, cold salads, beef kabobs, Swiss style cheese, fruit (bananas) and a berry “cheese cake.”

At tea our first day there was chocolate and a vanilla creamy cake; just as we headed out on our drive the staff surprised us with ice cream set up on a stand on the side of the road. The second day there were chocolate brownies at tea; the third day there were lemon cream filled muffins.

Dinner was by lantern and moonlight at private tables. We had two choices for appetizer and two choices for mains. For example, we had a choice of vegetable and corn soup or asparagus with prosciutto; beef with millie meal or duck. For dessert there was a platter with cheese, fruit kebabs, poached pears and fudge (a favorite).

Dinner the second night, on our return from the afternoon game drive, took place in the boma in a group table with our ranger. There was plated soup followed by a buffet of salad, cooked red cabbage, broccoli with Parmesan cheese, brown rice, butternut squash, curry beef and lamb. Dessert was a brandy pudding with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Dinner our last night was salad with prosciutto (the second option was corn soup). For mains the options were impala loin or chicken. For dessert there was cheese and toasted bread and pannacotta with passion fruit coulis.

One morning our ranger surprised us with a bush breakfast facing the Sand River. We had sliced fresh fruit, cereal, croissants, vanilla muffins, mini pizzas and made to order eggs as well as hot beverages, fruit juices and Viliera sparkling wine.

Amenities There were African Touch scent toiletries: Hair Wash, Hair Softener, Body Scrub, Body Lotion, Soap Suds and Body Wash in refillable glass pump bottles. There was also a vanity kit (cotton swabs, cotton balls, band-aids and condoms), tea candles in the bathtub and shower caps. There were two white cotton bathrobes, a blow dryer, an electronic safe, dried apricots and cashew nuts in glass jars as well as lemon and lime juice in glass bottles in the mini bar. In the closet there was: flashlight, can of mosquito repellent, and Supersound personal alarm. There was a bite size morsel of nougat on the pillow on our last night. There were also several surprise amenities like ice cream, surprise bush breakfast, fudge, and drawn bubble bath.

Facilities There was indoor sitting area, computer and television room, tennis court, dining room, outdoor sitting area facing a large lawn, boma (African style outdoor dining enclosure), air conditioned bar lounge, gift shop, full size swimming pool and deck and massage treatment room.

Massages An onsite masseuse was available to provide aromatherapy, back and neck and Swedish massages in a treatment room in the pool area or in guest rooms. The massage services were provided by Massage Corporation Africa (MCA ), owned by Jessica Linley who trained her staff. At my request Zanelle, a Zulu masseuse, came to my room for a 90-minute Swedish style massage. She had strong hands and the massage was good.

Pool The rim flow pool was 18 meters long by 7 meters wide. There were a number of lounge chairs and pool towels in the pool area.

Game Viewing Stephanie Mast, the head ranger, and Victor, the tracker who worked with her, took us out on game drives. Steph, as many called her, was personable and knowledgable. She had five and a half years of bush experience and a dynamic can do attitude. Game drives in an open top Land Rover with a silent radio (Steph wore a headset) were fun filled and educational without ever being dull. We liked that she would regularly take a moment to share with us her plan for the drive and ask our opinion before heading out (or continuing). Kirkman’s allowed a maximum of six people per vehicle.

During our visit there were six of us in the vehicle; we shared our safari vehicle with four other guests. The maximum number of guests per vehicle at Kirkman’s Kamp was six with a maximum of six vehicles traversing the property at the same time. The property had an extra vehicle available for private hire. Guides at Kirkman’s participated in a seven week training program.

There were booklets in our suite such as Game Plan (28 pages) and Winging It Introduction to Birding (33 pages) with information about the area of the Sabi Sand Reserve we were in, the flora, fauna and check lists that made it easy to keep track of the animals and birds we saw (or heard) during our twice daily game viewing drives.

Game we saw during our visit: Vervet monkey, tree squirrel, large-spotted genet, spotted hyena, leopard, lion, dwarf mongoose, slender mongoose, elephant, buffalo, bushbuck, grey duiker, giraffe, hippopotamus, impala, greater kudu, nyala, white rhinoceros, steenbok, warthog, waterbuck, blue wildebeest, Burchell’s zebra, leopard tortoise, terrapin, monitor lizard, and flap-necked chameleon. We also saw African monarch butterfly, golden orb spider, dragonfly, bark spider, pearl emperor butterfly, guineafowl butterfly, golden piper butterfly, gold forest butterfly, dung beetle

Birds we saw or heard: go-away bird, fork-tailed drongo, woodland kingfisher, Natal francolin, Eurasian bee-eater, bearded woodpecker, Wahlber’s eagle (two at the same sighting), Cape turtle dove, magpie shrike, Cape glossy startling, rattling cisticola, ground hornbill, common waxbill, red backed shrike, purple crested turaco, hadida ibis, carmine bee-eater, African hoopoe, golden tailed woodpecker, gray headed sparrow, giant kingfisher, spectacled weaver, black backed puffback, red billed oxpecker, dark capped bulbul, wolly necked stork, lizard buzzard, female mousesparrow, amur falcon, Burchell’s starling, brown headed parrot, bateleur eagle, gray hornbill, brown snake eagle, Burchell’s coucal, ground scraper thrush, cardinal woodpecker, African hawk eagle, African hawk eagle juvenile crested barbet, brown hooded kingfisher, martial eagle, giant eagle owl, spotted eagle owl, marabou stork, common scimitarbill, yellowfronted canary, guineafowl, emerald spotted wooddove, African fish eagle and little sparrow hawk.

Plants we saw: small knobwood (fragrant), 650 year old sycamore fig, and wild cucumber.

Other Because there were no fences around the property at night we were escorted to and from our rooms by a staff member. Guest rooms and common areas were sprayed with insect killer on a monthly basis. Kirkman’s Kamp was profiled as Country Life magazine’s six Romantic Hideaways in 2009.

Tennis and croquet were available. An optional activity was a visit to the nearby townships. Another guest and I visited the villages of Justicia and Huntington on Wednesday following our morning game drive. The three hour excursion included a visit to a preschool and a primary school where we met some of the children and staff including Saul, the headmaster of the primary school, Grace, the cook of the preschool, and Vusi, the local born &Beyond Foundation liaison who accompanied us.

Staff at the property participated in a Positive Health Programme where they were instructed on the benefits of healthy eating and healthy living. There were soccer and choir teams and annual competitions.

Because of its mineral content, the water in the bathroom had an ocher tint which appeared brown when the bathtub was filled and made the pool appear murky. Due to a thunderstorm lasting several hours during the night, the power went out for about six hours until the back up generators which had been hit by lightning were repaired.

Cleanliness Excellent

Date Of Review March 2011

Reviewers Article by Elena del Valle

Photographs by Gary Cox

Service Our rooms were serviced twice daily. Several of the staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome with small personalized surprises. The staff we interacted with were Duncan, Colleen, Steph, Victor and Sonny Boy.

Would You Stay There Again? Yes


Contact Information

  • Address:
    • Sabi Sand Game Reserve
    • Private Bag X27
    • Benmore, 2010
    • South Africa
  • Phone:
    • +27 11 809 4441
  • Website:
  • Email: