The Big Five roam through Sabi Sabi’s 230 square miles of prime South African low veldt adjoining the Kruger National Park.
Across a rugged sandy terrain of giraffes nibbling acacia trees, dry riverbeds waiting for the next rains and buffalo skulls bleaching under a hot sun, Sabi Sabi offers four very different safari lodges.
Nostalgically recalling the pioneering days of the first safaris, Selati Camp is Sabi Sabi’s lamp-lit, evocative take on yesterday. Looking like a Tsonga village, seven rondavel-style thatched and detached houses cluster around the bar, reception, restaurant and swimming pool.
This is photo-shoot luxury with mosquito nets draped around a romantic four-poster.
Decor recalls the pioneering days of the first safaris. Developing the theme of the Selati railway line, which hauled gold through the Transvaal to the coast, the camp is decorated with artefacts rescued from the remains of the Selati station. Back in the day, ladders were provided for waiting passengers to clamber into the trees when lions approached.
Whilst Selati Camp represents yesterday, the larger Bush Camp, with 25 villas, is the contemporary safari lodge of today. As a fenced camp, with spacious family villas catering for children or grandchildren, it is more of a family option than unfenced Selati where elephants, impala, leopards and lion occasionally roam through the camp.
Buffet service in the restaurant and boma suits families well, as they can dine at their own pace. Two swimming pools and large covered viewing decks, overhanging the Msuthlu riverbed, provide excellent game-spotting opportunities at the frequently visited waterhole.
Whilst children are occupied at the Elefun Centre, a colourful bush-themed hub of activities, adults can book in for relaxing treatments at the Amani Spa.
Looking to tomorrow, Earth Lodge is an eco-friendly vision of the future of safari. Literally constructed from tons of earth, the vast low-rise lodge has open-air lounges and dining areas looking out across the veldt and down to a water-hole where elephants and hippo grudgingly and noisily co-exist.
Each of the 13 luxurious villas has its own decking area and a complimentary mini-bar that is better stocked than some pubs. Truly detached and secluded, each villa has its own al fresco shower. Such is the state of safari perfection that art sets are provided for guests to capture the scene. Even elephants can’t resist dropping by to drink from the plunge pools.
Earth Lodge’s food and wine create stratospheric culinary standards usually expected of Michelin starred city restaurants. Wiljan, the chef, personally visits every table to explain the evening’s menu. After he has produced an astoundingly creative and succulent Eland fillet in a coffee and coriander sauce, he explains, “I always tell my chefs that cooking is not the art. What’s important is knowing when to stop cooking.”
Little Bush Camp is Sabi Sabi’s smallest camp with just six secluded villas. Serenity and tranquility make it a favoured destination for couples, often celebrating a honeymoon or anniversary. Each villa has a private viewing deck, with heated spa-bath, overlooking the Msuthlu river.
Every camp provides guests with an early morning and late afternoon game drive as part of the daily routine. Having learnt their trade as small boys tracking down the family cattle, the Shangaan spotters sit precariously out front of the land-cruiser safari vehicles.
Sighting paw prints, sniffing for aromas, listening for territorial grunts and watching for jittery impala, the spotters track down the Big Five whilst the driver-cum-ranger explains the psychology of the animal kingdom. Many guests opt to take walking safaris as well which gives a even closer and more intense perspective on bush life.
Little luxuries help guests along their way on the game drives. Hot-water bottles and blankets are available for early morning. The spotters hand-grind Rwandan coffee beans for the beverage break: almond milk is available as a non-dairy alternative. Even in the depths of the bush, the sundowner is served with lemon and ice, if required.
With camps looking to yesterday, today and tomorrow, as well as the intimate Little Bush Camp, Sabi Sabi provides guests with an opportunity to select a camp to exactly match their needs for what is often an experience of a lifetime.
Discover Sabi Sabi’s range of safari camps at www.sabisabi.com.
Sabi Sabi drivers collect guests from Skukuza airport after flights from Cape Town or Johannesburg.
Our Silver Travel Advisors can book and give further information on safaris in South Africa and across the whole of the continent. Call 0800 412 5678.