The fact that the camp itself perhaps lacks some of the grandeur of the others in Sabi Sands takes nothing away from the arrival given that the warmest of welcomes committees awaits you as you step out of your vehicle. While your bags are being taken care of, the beaming team of staff will escort you inside the 1920s Transvaal building and explain, while you sip on your welcome drink, everything you need to know during your stay. This is usually done in what is known as Paul's Pub, named after the present owner's father. This inviting space, dominated and surveyed by a water buffalo head above the working fireplace, is a small treasure trove of objects from yesteryear including pocket watches, old tins and bottles, worn books and Harry Kirkman's original rifle licence. At one end of the room is the bar while the other end has a comfy seating area centered around a table adorned with flowers and offering complimentary sherry. There is also an iPod docking station here on which you are free to place your own device.
Just next door is the huge main lounge whose walls are full or Kirkman portraits, some of his old rifles and several hunting trophies or various antelope. Very much in the same style as Paul's Pub, this is a great place to come in the evening after your meal and exchange stories with fellow guests. Should you feel the need to get your fix of television or internet and have not brought a laptop with you, then head to the TV room which also has a computer free for everybody's use.
Down at the bottom of the small hill (at the top of which is the main lodge) is the pool area. This smart infinity pool, which is surrounded by sun loungers and parasols on the paved border, has great views of the bush and is fully exposed to the sun all day long. Below you can see not only the Sand River, but from time to time elephants and water buffalo roaming around. Just behind the pool is an air-conditioned cabin in which the lovely Zanele gives massages of all sorts and which also houses a relaxation area and showers. If you prefer to have a treatment in the privacy of your own room Zanele will be happy to oblige.
Unlike many other lodges in the area, Kirkman's boasts large areas of open lawns which are great for strolling around (during daylight hours). There spaces, as well as all the public areas of the lodge are kept in fine condition by a dedicated and wonderfully friendly staff.
In addition to the twice-daily game drives, there are other activities on offer (some of which require a supplement) such as walking safaris, tracking adventures, photographic safaris and bird watching sorties. If you require binoculars during your drives you can rent a pair for 75ZAR (£6.30) with proceeds going back into the local communities. Similarly, every time a Wild Child bracelet is sold at the camp's shop, the money allows a child from the local community to participate in a conservation awareness workshop at Kirkman's.
Additional services include complimentary wifi in the main lodge building, tennis, pétanque and croquet. There is also the option for kids between the ages of 0 and 12 to be looked after by a qualified ranger who will give them their own little safari pack.