There are few experiences more exhilarating than driving through the African bushveld, on an open Landrover, under the gaze of the orange sun – as you spot wild animals in their natural habitat. You are galaxies away from the concrete jungle and you are at one with nature. And when this is combined with a luxury bush lodge, like Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge , as your home base, then the whole experience can only be incredible.
We recently spent two nights at Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge in the acclaimed Sabi Sand Private Reserve. which borders Kruger National Park. It is renowned as one of the most prestigious game reserves in the country and is where most international celebrities and royals stay when they come to South Africa for safari.
The Sabi Sabi group has four lodges in the reserve, each representing a different era in history, embracing the Sabi Sabi philosophy of ‘yesterday, today and tomorrow’. The ground-breaking Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge represents the future, the nostalgic Selati Lodge represents the past and the contemporary Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge and the intimate Little Bush Camp epitomize the present.
Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge is fairly large. It has 25 luxury suites, including a presidential suite. The public areas have huge viewing decks which overlook a large waterhole that is frequently visited by the resident wildlife. It also has an enclosed lounge and two swimming pools, also overlooking the waterhole. There is an Amani Spa and a boutique shop on the premises.
We were welcomed with refreshing mocktails and our programme for the weekend was explained to us. After a light lunch on the deck, we were shown to our room - which happened to be one of the lodges two luxury villas. To say that we were impressed would be an understatement. It was certainly one of the most luxurious bush accommodations we had ever stayed in and I hope that I can do justice to it with my description and photos.
Our villa consisted of a master bedroom and a second bedroom for the kids - both en-suite, a lounge area with a library nook, and a patio with a private plunge pool. The bedrooms were huge and featured draped four-poster beds, and reading alcoves.
The main bathroom consisted of his and hers vanity stations and a dressing area with a closet. This led to a glass-walled outer bathroom, with his and hers bathtubs positioned side-by-side, a huge Hans Grohe rainshower and an al-fresco shower, all with panoramic views of the bushveld...
Which led to this...
The entire villa was tastefully decorated in natural tones. It was understated opulence at its best yet so comfortable that I could stay there…forever. Even the wooden chandeliers, which were composed of branches and twigs, and the furniture pieces, masqueraded as artwork. Bathrobes, slippers, a Nespresso machine and a fully-stocked mini bar were all provided.
Our days consisted of an early morning wake-up call followed by coffee and pastries before our morning game drive. After the 3-hour game drive, we were served a huge breakfast, then spent some time relaxing in our luxurious villa while the kids played at the Elefun Centre.
One can also choose to get pampered at the spa, go on a bush walk, visit the neighbouring Shangaan communities, enjoy a dip in the pool or relax on the comfortable viewing deck and watch the wildlife at the waterhole. Then it was time for lunch, a short siesta and afternoon tea before the evening game drive. We returned to dinner, then it was bedtime.
Yes, there was a lot of food and you may leave the reserve with a few extra kilograms. You are served three delectable meals a day with two tea-times, and tea breaks between game drives too. And don’t expect ordinary food. If you ask for eggs for breakfast, you are offered a choice of duck, egg or quail. We opted for Duck Eggs Benedict with salmon for one of our breakfasts. It was delicious.
A hearty multi-course dinner is served every night, either in the boma under the canopy of the star-lit sky or in the main lodge, depending on the weather. On 19 March, we celebrated Earth Hour at the lodge. All lights were switched off and we dined by lantern-light. The ambience was amazing.
Villas come with a private vehicle, ranger and tracker. The camps are unfenced so rangers escort you to and from your room during the dark hours. Jonas, our game ranger, was a wealth of experience and could answer any wildlife question we put to him. At dinner, he regaled us with fascinating bush anecdotes. Doc, our Shangaan tracker, was attuned to the environment and constantly impressed us with the sightings he led us to. Together, they showed us the Big 5 in the first half of our first game drive after we expressed our desire to see the leopard.
It was the first time I'd seen the elusive leopard in the wild in four years. Although the Sabi Sand Game Reserve is known for its wildlife sightings I was amazed at how this leopard allowed us to follow it for a long while instead of slinking off into the bushes as leopards normally do. But then I learnt that the leopards here are more accustomed to humans because of the respect they are treated with from the time they are born. A few days before our arrival, another lucky set of guests saw an astounding 7 leopards in one drive!
Later, we watched a group of lions pursuing another group over a heated territory fight. One had a broken tooth dangling from his mouth, which had been kicked by a giraffe. The next morning, we saw two adorable lion cubs frolicking around lethargic lionesses. We saw herds of buffalos, elephants and rhinos and magnificent birds. We watched a boomslang slithering in a tree at night, at close range. The rangers recognised the larger animals and referred to them by the names they had given them. There was an aura of mutual understanding and respect between the animals and the rangers.
Bush Lodge is the only Sabi Sabi lodge that welcomes children of all ages. They are allowed on game drives from the age of 6. At breakfast, there is a special kids corner with child-friendly breakfast treats. The Elefun centre is a vibrant children’s facility within the lodge grounds which offers hands-on, interactive activities. Professional child-minders take care of the kids and inspire them to learn more about nature. Our children enjoyed themselves here with the other young guests. They even made their own backpacks, greeting cards and animal mobiles.
This was my first visit to the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve. I am now counting it is as one of my favourite safari destinations. The wildlife encounters are especially close and the game viewing experience is rich and fulfilling. The bushveld experience is enhanced in the company of highly skilled game rangers, without tens of other cars coalescing around the sighting. And when you return from your game drive, you are embraced by the warm hospitality at your luxury bush lodge, where the safari experience is extended by your proximity to the waterhole. It all makes for magical safari memories.
For more information, visit Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge.
Read about Sabi Sabi's other stunning lodges.
For more reasons to visit Mpumalanga, click here.
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Hi there! Do you use Twitter? I'd like to follow you if that would be okay. I'm undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.
Hi Deedra, I'm on Twitter at https://twitter.com/InAfricaNBeyond
Oh my gosh this lodge is exactly what I imagine when I do an overnight Safari! It is gorgeous! I have been to South Africa twice and will go back so I'm saving this!
This looks like a very nice hotel! I love a place that has a luxurious, but still relaxed feel. and Oh the wildlife.. cant wait to go there..
Thanks Anna . It's a bucket list kind of place - awesome luxury and wildlife
It looks amazing there!
Thanks Charlene. It was one of the best safari lodges I've ever been to.
Wow this place looks so luxurious. It must have been hard to leave. And so unusual but fantastic for a game lodge to have facilties for children!
It was amazing, Cliodhna . We're quite lucky in South Africa to have many child-friendly game lodges. It's great - because we can get our safari fix without worrying about what to do with the kids 🙂
WOW. This place looks incredible! I'm looking into different options for safaris so will definitely bookmark this for the future!
It's an incredible safari experience Flo. You should definitely consider it.
Wow this place looks absolutely stunning! I would loveee to go there. My husband and I are planning our summer holiday and this place just looks so wonderful!
It's an amazing place for safari lovers Sainab. You would love it.
This post just so reminded us our first vacation where we he wanted go for the African safari and I was so determined to try our own Indian frist 😛 The Sabi Sabi lodge is so much like the one we would choose to stay. I am showing this to my hubby right after I comment.. and now I know where to come and check for travel advice.. What I really loved is you get to see the wild animals in action and close with guard. Back in India we went to Kabini Tiger reserve and both the days of safari, we could not sight even one tiger! It was such a disappointment. And that boutique would be the place I will be found if not anywhere! 😛
Thank you Famidha. Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge would be a great choice when you come to South Africa for safari. I would be happy to advise you when you come. Having been on many African safaris, I would really love to go to a tiger reserve in India to see tigers in the wild - but I guess if I didn't see any, I would be disappointed too.
M in love with this place. Such stunning pictures... I already started the fell of relaxation... Heheh... In sha Allah I hope I visit this place soon. The child corner looks so estatic:)
Thank you Irum. I hope you visit soon too. The children were very happy.
Looking stunning.What a beautiful place..love it
Thank you Afreen. It really is a beautiful place.
Salaam! This looks absolutely stunning. I think Sabi Sabi is going to be our next family vacation. Subhan'Allah I got lost in your writing. I felt like I was there. Beautiful pictures too! Masha'Allah. I'm glad you and your fan had a great time!! Thanks so much for posting about this!!!
Thank you Umm Johar. I'm sure you will love Sabi Sabi.
Looks quite awesome, MashaAllah. It's the first time I've ever seen the beautiful part of Africa! And the way you've written, makes me want to go there 🙂
Thank you Sahla. South Africa is a very beautiful country. You should definitely come visit. Here are some more photos of South Africa that will show you how beautiful it is. http://inafricaandbeyond.com/30-photos-of-south-africa
I can feel you, this could easily be a place to live in ~ forever. And the pictures have done a lot of justice too... thanks for the breath-taking photography.
What you've captured is truly a prestigious experience. So it is BIG bonus that the facilities were designed in a child friendly manner.
Thank you Amina. Many safari lodges do not allow children. This lodge caters for them really well.
Wow! Its fascinating! I noticed that you havent mentioned the cost anywhere...mind sharing how much did it cost you?
Here are the rates, Hina. http://www.sabisabi.com/tariffs . You divide by 15 to get the USD price. I was hosted as a blogger though.
Wow - what a wonderful luxury experience
Thanks Rina. It was an amazing experience.