The South African government has announced that international borders will open again on 1 October 2020 (certain conditions apply for international tourists and leisure tourists from ‘high risk countries are excluded – a list of these are available on request together with exact requirements and details for tourists that can now visit). We used a few days at the end of September to further explore some of the safari lodges in the Greater Kruger. We restricted our visits to the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve – we had a delightful stay at Sabi Sabi Earth in the south-east before heading to the western section to stay at Dulini, Savanna and Idube. Although we’re restricting our feedback to the lodges we stayed at, we also visited Sabi Sabi Bush, Nottens, Dulini River, Dulini Leadwood and Inyati and will gladly share feedback on those on request. You might have followed our exploits on social media and seen the posts and photos of the lodges we stayed at – but also the ones we just visited for a quick site. If you missed those please visit our Facebook and Instagram pages for a more visual version of feedback.
Domestic travel has been in full swing for more than a month already, giving all properties and sites the opportunity to “test drive” the COVID19 protocols on local tourists before the international visitors arrive. We could first-hand experience this – while protocols are carefully followed (social distancing, sanitizing, etc.) we found it unobtrusive and with very little negative impact on our safari and overall experience. While re-assuring in terms of safety and health it didn’t dampen the hospitable, warm and friendly service attitude South Africa is known for.
We trust the feedback will motivate you to propose South Africa to your clients as a suitable destination as we battle through the COVID19 era and start rebuilding our fragile tourism community and industry.
We look forward to bring you updates from our next road trip re-discovering the art and joy of travel.
Updating and revamping a unique statement styled safari lodge can be a tricky thing. The Sabi Sabi Earth revamp is however a triumph – a statement in tan, wood, leather, stormy dark greys and stone. These might be earthy tones but the result is definitely not boring and a masterpiece of design and style. Naturally the lodge has a more masculine feel than many others but it isn’t overpowering and rather understated while staying true to it’s unique identity.
Guests will undoubtedly nest in their rooms with the subtle changes to the terrace and plunge pool area – allowing for inside/outside living throughout the year.
The service was impeccable while also jovial and warm. The food mouth-watering and wholesome with delightful twists in flavours and ingredients which made your taste buds do unexpected summersaults of joy.
Naturally a quality safari experience completed an all-round quality stay.
Sabi Sabi Earth can deservedly claim its place again amongst ‘the best of the best tier’ when it comes to South African Safari Lodges.
Classically romantic; a bygone era of safari camps; indulgent “Out of Africa” theme – very few top tier lodges still fall into this category as the majority are now contemporary classic or modern safari style. If guest profile dictates this as preferred style they won’t be disappointed. While keeping totally within the style is definitely not ‘fuddy-duddy’ and modern touches improve the elegant ambience.
The food experience will have any foodie salivating – chef Altus is a magician combining unusual ingredients, flavours and tastes in ways that astound the taste buds while you lick your lips in wonder. The food experience raises the safari dining bar to another level.
The same menu is served at all 3 the lodges in the Dulini Collection – so guests staying at Dulini River or Dulini Leadwood will have the same culinary satisfaction.
Our knowledgeable and interacting ranger and tracker team rounded of a wonderful stay at Dulini Lodge. Although personal interaction is always subjective, I would rate them as one of the best ranger/traders teams I’ve had the pleasure to experience – and I’ve done a few safaris in my career.
We also had the opportunity to visit Dulini River and Dulini Leadwood for quick sites and will gladly share our comments on request.
Savanna is the only tented camp in the Sabi Sands – but you’re definitely not camping! And to be more precise, it is only the roof section that is tented in the classical and romantic East African safari tent style. Each tent is encased in a ‘boma’ with lush gardens which adds to the ambience and elevates the sense of privacy and seclusion of your tented dwelling. The interiors are tastefully decorated in the classical style while massive bathrooms adds to the feeling of opulence.
Simple yet wholesome and tasty meals are served in a variety of areas around the camp. Like most other safari lodges, Savanna embraced the COVID19 protocols with regards to dining and innovative table buffets and platters actually elevates the dining experience to a more intimate and personable experience for guests.
Savanna is the lodge located closest to the Newington gate entrance and views of the local community settlement around Newington gate is this unavoidable. Although not a major distraction it would need to be taken into account for those guests who want to “get away from all signs of civilization” and want that feeling of remoteness and seclusion.
In recent times lodges have constantly refurbished, updated and modernized. There are therefore very few lodges left that still embrace the ethos of the original safari camps – a relaxed and familial set up that embraces social interaction which easily leads to communication with other guests. Idube is rustic yet comfortable and homely while maintaining the required standard you would expect of a reputable safari lodge in the Sabi Sands.
The 3 suites at Idube all have private plunge pools and are spacious and airy. They offer a very good value proposition for honeymoon couples that don’t want to “break the bank”.
The food offering at Idube is in keeping with the ambience and style of the lodge – unpretentious but tasty and wholesome.
All the lodges in the western section of the Sabi Sands share traversing rights in a collective area of more than 10,000 hectares. All the guests at these lodges thus have access to some of the best safari area (we saw 5 different leopards during our 3 night stay in the area). The rangers and trackers at Idube were experienced, knowledgeable and personable – ensuring great safari drive experiences.
The lodges that share the same traversing area are Dulini Collection, Leopard Hills, Ulusaba, Inyati, Idube and Savanna.