South Africa is renowned for its luxury safari experiences. It often plays host to royals and other celebrities from around the world, who come to experience unique wildlife encounters which few other countries can offer. In a private reserve, the exhilaration of the African bushveld experience is enhanced in the company of trained game rangers on open Landrovers, without umpteen other cars coalescing around the wildlife. In between safaris, you return to a plush suite and the warm hospitality of your luxury lodge.
The Sabi Sabi Private Reserve is part of the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve which borders the world-renowned Kruger National Park in South Africa. The game viewing experience is rich and fulfilling and the wildlife encounters are especially close. I saw all of South Africas Big Five animals (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhinoceros) and more, within the first half of my first game drive there! The rangers are highly experienced and can answer all your wildlife questions. They can also entertain you with fascinating bush anecdotes all night long.
The Sabi Sabi group has four award-winning five-star lodges in the reserve. Each one represents a different era in history, which embraces the Sabi Sabi philosophy of yesterday, today and tomorrow. The pioneering Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge represents the future, the historic Selati Lodge represents the past and the modern Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge and the intimate Little Bush Camp showcase the present. The lodges are integrated with the local community -running community programs, employing staff from the community, and offering guests community tours. All the lodges offer two game drives, optional walking safaris and three delectable meals a day.
Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge
This is the only Sabi Sabi lodge that allows children. The lodge is fairly large with 25 suites including two luxury villas and a presidential suite. The villas have two en-suite bedrooms with glass-panelled bathrooms offering panoramic views of the bushveld and an outdoor shower. They also have their own private plunge pool, and come with a private vehicle, ranger and tracker. There is a spa, a boutique shop and a childcare facility on the premises.
Sabi Sabi Selati Camp
This is the ideal choice for Out of Africa fans. Built near the decommissioned Selati railway line, the lodge features a historic railway theme and exudes colonial charm and grandeur. Railway memorabilia adorns the entire lodge. There are eight beautiful thatched suites. The Ivory Presidential Suite is the most opulent of them all. Persian carpets, antiques and a four-poster bed are some of its features. A private plunge pool is another. Meals at the lodge are sometimes had in the old farmhouse kitchen and sometimes on decks overlooking the riverbed.
Sabi Sabi Little Bush Camp
With six luxurious suites, decorated in contemporary African design, this intimate and secluded lodge is ideal for extended family or corporate get-togethers. Each suite has its own private viewing deck and a heated spa bath overlooking the riverbed. The entire camp can be booked by one party. And if booked individually, guests usually arrive as strangers and leave as family. Dinner is often served on the dry riverbed under dimly lit trees, making it ideal for romantic getaways too.
Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge
Billed by National Geographic as one of the unique lodges of the world, this safari sanctuary has been inspired by nature. Sculpted into the slope of the earth, it is almost camouflaged within the landscape. In fact, it blends in with its surroundings so well that even the animals believe it is part of their natural environment. Which is why the lodge has had an elephant walk on to the roof, and two lions eat their kill on another roof. The views from the lodge, the rooms, the gym and the spa are incredible. It is quite common to see wildlife wandering outside the lodge. Earth Lodge has 13 spacious suites each with its own private plunge pool. The uber-luxurious Amber Presidential Suite has a double bedroom with magnificent carved wooden headboard, a huge bathroom with an egg-shaped stone bath and a steam room, a study, a kitchen and a living and dining area.
During our stay, we asked several of the staff members who had worked across the lodges which was their favourite. Each one cited a different lodge for their own personal reasons. But whichever one you choose, it will be sure to be an unforgettable safari experience.