Most people equate Africa with scorched orangey sand, but our particular safari experience took place in wooded savannah with a river, lush trees (like the one the leopard is hanging out in below) and the usual scrub.
Now I’m often asked about what our accommodations were like? Was it a rustic tent in the bush? Was it like a normal hotel? Well I’m thrilled to say, short of being constructed of marshmallows and smiles, the lodge where my family and I stayed was ultimate heaven (with a few millipedes and praying mantis thrown in)
Situated in the western block of Sabi Sand, at Savanna Private Game Reserve you’re well aware that you’re plunked right down in the heart of the bush. There is a short electric fence that closes in the property, but that still didn’t stop several rhino from taking a closer look while we were on the way to breakfast, or a hippo from honking at us on our private veranda overlooking his waterhole just a few feet away.
The main lodge is beautifully decorated with crafts from the nearby village and paintings and photos of the gorgeous local game. A separate loft area has a lounge set-up with plenty of books and a computer, but most guests are happy to socialize on the main floor where the deluxe three-course meals are served.
As stunning as the common areas are (and they really are something!), it was the suite where we hung our tilly hats that has really ruined me for life.
Each of our rooms in the Savannah suite had its own private plunge pool overlooking waterholes where elephant and hippos like to hang. A small deck with a couple of lawn chairs could have been a nice spot for reflection, but truthfully it was far too hot in the time between our game drives to even sit in the shade. (our seasons are reversed)
With a thatched roof (there are other rooms with canvas roofs available) and ethereal mosquito netting draped over the beds, the bedrooms were both extremely exotic and functional as well. (you must take malarial precautions before going) Birds of paradise are everywhere in South Africa and there was a lovely bunch nestled between two overstuffed arm chairs at the end of the bed and a desk for you to write about all the game you saw.
The massive bathroom was even more indulgent with a lengthy double-sink vanity, free-standing sinker tub, a walk-in shower for two, and the ultimate: a luxe outdoor shower where you could shampoo down after your nighttime game drive while looking up at the milky way in the star-lit sky.
Our own suite had a comfortable sitting room as well, stockpiled with books, wildlife photography and a TV (although there was no need to even turn it on during our entire stay). There was also a kosher kitchen and stocked mini-bars with all inclusive snacks and booze, should guests have a hankering for a midnight snack.
Now I’d be remiss discussing Savannah without mentioning our guide and lodge director, Paddy Hagelthorn. A more knowledgeable, gracious and intuitive ranger you will not find - and our family was very lucky to have Paddy’s expertise to draw from during our stay. He is also a fabulous photographer and taught us a great deal about the diverse range of species in the bush (and how to capture them on our new cam)
Besides Paddy, our tracker James and the other amazing hosts who provided us with the trip of a lifetime, the staff - mostly from the nearby Shangaan village - were some of the nicest and most attentive people I have ever met. After enjoying a performance from a local choir I was happy to learn that the lodge helps fund two schools in the Gazankulu.
Between the marvelous game, the luxe accommodations, the delicious food and the amazing staff – the safari was the trip of a lifetime. If you ever have the chance to go, you must visit Savannah and witness the incredibleness for yourself! Whether for a honeymoon (they do wedding packages too), a family or for a voyage of self-discovery, Savannah is the perfect place for a true luxury safari experience.