South Africa is usually named in one breath with the word Safari. But when you do a safari, you want to do it the right way! A lot of people are saving up to do a safari and most of us will only experience this once in their lifetime. That’s why I definitely recommend to spend some extra cash on a luxury retreat in a private game reserve so you have the best safari experience you can imagine. During my recent stay in South Africa I had the amazing honor to stay at Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge. Let’s have a look at why this lodge might be one of the best in the country!
Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge is an award-winning lodge in the middle of Sabi Sabi Game Reserve. This park shares a whopping 50km of unfenced border with the adjacent Kruger National Park. You enter through Shaw’s Gate, and from there it’s still about half an hour to the lodge. When we arrived we were offered a glass of champagne and a fresh towel. At the outdoor lounge we were greeted by an unbelievable surprise: there was an elephant grazing some 20 meter in front of us! It almost looked to good to be true, as if they had put the elephant there when we arrived! But it was all real.
As I mentioned, the Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge is sculpted into a slope of the earth, located in the middle of the private game reserve. This makes it nearly invisible to the animals which means they can get very close to the property. It is designed in such a way that the villas blend in with the surroundings.
When I arrived at my villa and looked out of the floor-to-ceiling windows, I couldn’t believe what I saw! There was another elephant was passing casually in front of me! All ultra-luxurious villas on the property are similar to one another (except for the Amber Presidential Suite of course), and they are the most impressive accommodation I have ever seen. The quality of the materials used is of the highest category. It’s a mix of contemporary elements and a traditional bush style. The spa and gym offer unrivaled views over the bushveld.
The bathroom of my suite alone is area alone is larger than most hotel rooms I’ve slept in. Each villa also features its own private pool overlooking the game reserve. At night I heard the sounds of animals such as birds, elephants, rhinos… I even heard a hyena right at the door. That’s why there’s always a ranger on duty at the resort. In case you need to leave your room at night, he will come for you and make sure it is safe.
Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge is one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World, and it truly shows. Every day at Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge, you can go on a morning and evening safari. Before the safari starts, all guests gather at the panoramic open-air lounge to meet with your ranger. What’s amazing is that each party – wether you’re a couple, a family or a solo traveler – gets its own designated ranger and tracker, and your individual jeep to experience the safari in. That’s why safaris at Sabi Sabi are incredibly personal and interesting. We saw all sorts of animals like giraffes, rhinos, hippos, buffalos, antelopes, colorful birds and elephants! At one point, we got up really close and personal with a herd of about 20 elephants. There were several baby elephants in the herd, some of which were hiding in the tall grass. I will never forget this experience.
The animals got used to the jeeps driving around in the park and wildlife is abundant at this private game reserve. Animals may come and go to the nearby Kruger National Park, but it ’s my impression that they prefer to hang around in the much quieter Sabi Sands Game Reserve. Here you don’t have situations like 20 jeeps on an asphalted road trying to chase down one lion. At the end of the evening safari, guests gather at a safe place in the park for a drink and a bite in the bush.
At the time I was visiting, a villa at Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge cost around 2600 euro per night. Included in this price is breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks throughout the day, 2 safaris per day, a stay in a brand-new private luxury villa with the largest minibar known to man and memories you’ll never forget. In my opinion it is well worth the price! If you’re looking for an exceptional safari experience away from the crowds, look no further and go for Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge.