Protea Hotel Kruger Gate: Bundu bashing in the lap of luxury

The Protea Hotel Kruger Gate outdoor dining area where you can enjoy a candle-lit dinner.(Supplied)

The Protea Hotel Kruger Gate outdoor dining area where you can enjoy a candle-lit dinner.(Supplied)

Protea Hotel Kruger Gate, situated under 50km from the town of Hazyview, is something of a well-kept secret.

About 100m from the Kruger National Park’s Paul Kruger entrance (one of the national park’s southern gates), an obvious selling point for the hotel is game viewing.

Getting there, while simple, may not always go down without a glitch. The GPS could get a wee bit confused.
Hazyview’s Paul Kruger Road, a 43km stretch of tarred road that passes several townships and villages, has a variety of hotels and lodges bearing the moniker of erstwhile Transvaal Republic president. Kruger, who established the park by forcefully removing the nearby inhabitants to protect the space’s wildlife, has everything named after him in these parts. So it’s advisable to have a clear set of directions going in.

Protea Hotel Kruger Gate’s entire look and layout is about enhancing the “bush experience”. It sports a deck bar with an unobstructed viewing deck where – under umbrella-shaded trees – you can watch elephants graze and zebras troop by. Different species of buck sometimes amble into the establishment to graze and in some cases, return the gaze of unsuspecting holidaymakers.

A running joke at the establishment is a sign posted at the reception area warning arriving patrons of a stray leopard prowling the premises. While in jest, the notice was apparently spawned by a real event where the night receptionist had to flee the open-air reception area into the back offices to avoid an encounter with the roaming feline.  True or not, the sign makes for fun check-in banter.

The reception area faces a central lounge, which doubles as a collection point for game drives, arrivals and departures. Here residents can also book slots for the other activities on offer, such as massages from Dee’s African Spa or children’s activities.

Further along the entrance area is an outdoor lounge, a restaurant and a bar with a smoking section.

The restaurant serves buffet breakfasts and a la carte lunches. This leads to a downstairs lapa area where open-air dinners are served buffet style. These are accompanied by “cultural entertainment”, tourist bait including South African folk staples. 

The air-conditioned rooms, while keeping with an earthy colour scheme, boast modern bathroom fittings with spacious showers to provide respite from the punishing heat of the bush. There are at least 96 luxury en-suite bedrooms and seven six-sleeper catering units. The latter are ideal for families as they come with braai facilities  

Afternoon or morning game drives (either in open air or air conditioned vehicles) can be booked with a variety of safari operators. Morning game drives are recommended as they offer the opportunity to spot felines who doggedly avoid the midday and afternoon sun.

The guides on these tours are selected for their years of experience and their knowledge of the routes leading to prime game viewing spots.

If, for example, you go for a game drive at an unseemly hour, and all you are confronted with for the next few minutes is an overabundance of impala – “the McDonalds of the bush” – as one guide called them, the guides comradely confer and trade routes.

This, (especially for overseas tourists spotting the big five for the first time) usually results in satiated customers happily snapping at game and swapping stories.

Guest at the hotel can also go on unassisted self-drives or sign up for other activities such as bush walks, regional tours or outdoor activities. Alternatively, they can relax by the pool with a book.

Dee’s African Spa, situated at the far-end of the viewing deck also overlooks the Sabie River and offers a unique and relaxing environment for massages and facials.

 The hotel can also be used as a conferencing venue as it has three venues, which can accommodate up to 255 delegates.

Protea Hotel Kruger Gate is not suited for debauchery but will provide welcome respite from the bustle of city life.

For more information on the Protea Hotel Kruger Gate, visit Protea Hotel Kruger Gate

The writer was sponsored by Protea Hotel Kruger Gate.

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