People are making this their base to explore Hoedspruit from

Safari Moon Suitcase & Chardonnay

By Renate Engelbrecht

Thursday, Feb 09

Safari Moon is the ideal destination for travellers to explore Hoedspruit and surrounds from, with quick access to must-see attractions like the Kruger National Park and the world’s third largest canyon.

The first rain of the season had just started to fall as we arrived, and I was in my element. There is no place like the African bush to appreciate glistening raindrops hanging from Acacia leaves.

Safari Moon Suitcase & Chardonnay
Image: Kevin mark Pass

Safari Moon Luxury Lodge might be located in the Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate, but it still offers you the opportunity to experience nature – whether it’s from the comfort of your luxurious room, looking out into the lush bush filled with bright green hues, or from the stools on the first step of the swimming pool, listening to the birds from under an overhanging tree branch.

Bedroom at Safari Moon in Hoedspruit
Image: Renate Engelbrecht

Even Tom Cruise gave Safari Moon a yes

I can understand why a well-known celebrity like Tom Cruise would choose Safari Moon as his home away from home during his recent filming trip to South Africa. It’s secluded and safe, yet it still offers a sense of freedom. And, even in the estate itself, you might just be lucky enough to spot an Aardvark or even a pangolin since there are far less predators pouncing around here.

The boutique luxury lodge was envisioned by decorator and owner, Nicola Leitch and she and her husband, Guy have been playing host to guests from all over the world since 2020. Nicola and Guy’s larger than life personalities have been imprinted in everything they do at Safari Moon – from the rooms’ unique décor and the Ardmore collection in the lounge, to the attention to detail when it comes to high teas, dinners, drinks at the bar and even treats for the road. Our stay at Safari Moon would not have been a proper stay if we hadn’t had the opportunity to join the hosting couple for drinks and dinner. In fact, they are generally the life of the party. Nicola – a redhead with limitless amounts of energy – had loads of stories to tell about how the lodge started, where she sourced her décor pieces and what their plans were for the future.

The luxurious rooms have all been fitted out with beautiful décor, silky soft bath robes, beaded accent pieces and lovely scatter cushions that add a touch of home to a space that might feel unfamiliar otherwise. I was also amazed at how much effort was put into catering to my preference of gluten-free meals, which can so often be quite the challenge at destinations like these.

High tea at Safari Moon with specially made gluten free cake
High tea at Safari Moon with specially made gluten-free cake. Image: Renate Engelbrecht

A Big Five Safari from Safari Moon

The name, Safari Moon might leave you baffled when you see that it’s based in town. The word safari instantly puts most of us in a luxury tent or a bushveld chalet in the heart of the Kruger National Park or another African nature reserve – somewhere where we can spot the Big Five. Since Safari Moon is located in Hoedspruit, it allows you to opt for a different kind of safari too. Still, since the lodge is just around the corner (in fact, they have a gate that gives you access) to Balule Reserve, which is adjacent to, and part of the Greater Kruger, a Big Five safari is most definitely possible, done daily with either a morning or afternoon game drive. Crossroads Safaris will pick you up at the lodge (and you will get some game drive treats from Safari Moon’s kitchen) and take you on the drive.

In search of a spotted cat or two, we got to see a leopard in a tree one night. We also saw the rainbird – so apt considering we were driving in a drizzle of summer rain. Bliss!

Opt for another type of safari

Of course, Big Five safaris aren’t the only activities in the Hoedspruit area and there is so much more to be seen and done.

River safari

Another highlight of our two-day stay was the Blyde River Canyon and a ‘river safari’ with Blyde Dam Boat Trips. The natural wonders amidst the area’s four different biomes are fascinating. Read more about it here.

Blyde Dam Boat Trip
Image: Renate Engelbrecht

Kruger Safari

In addition to that, you can also take a self-drive safari into the Kruger National Park, or ask Safari Moon to assist in booking a full day private Kruger Park safari.

Citrus Safari

Furthermore, you can also visit some of the local working citrus farms with Primos Gin. Listen to stories about these working farms, learn about the different phases of fruit cultivation and enjoy it all against the backdrop of the Drakensberg mountain range. Then, enjoy a taste of locally produced gin with delicious snacks as the grand finale.

Cycling Safari

Panorama Pedals also have a couple of cycling safaris on offer in the area, including citrus farm exploration and the Panorama route.

Mariepskop Safari

All or Nothing Adventures can also take you on a Mariepskop Safari. Mariepskop is the highest point of the Drakensberg in the Hoedspruit area and there is actually an open vehicle that will take you right to the top. Remember to pack your binos, because you might be able to spot the Narina Trogon while driving through the rain forest. You can also opt for a full day Mariepskop picnic with Big 5 Safaris.

Balloon safaris

Of course, a hot air balloon safari is the ultimate. I mean, who wouldn’t want to float over African plains as the sun comes up? Visit for more information.

Hoedspruit and surrounds have a lot more than just the Big Five to offer and Safari Moon is probably one of the best destinations to do it from. Stay in luxurious bush comfort and then, go out and explore!


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