South African Safaris – new luxury lodges for 2018
It’s no surprise that South Africa regularly tops the travel surveys. It’s a destination with so much on offer, from spectacular safaris and beautiful beaches to sophisticated city life and off-the-beaten-track wonders. There’s always plenty going on behind the scenes and here’s a brief look brief look at what’s new, what’s freshly refurbished and what’s coming up when it comes to hotels and lodges.
Big five alert – Sabi Sands
Sabi Sands game reserve borders the Kruger National Park and has one of the richest wildlife populations in South Africa. Your chances of seeing the Big Five of lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino are excellent here – we’ve even known it achieved in a single morning game drive. Two openings later this year have caught our eye:
Luxury operator &Beyond opens its second Sabi Sands lodge when Tengile River Lodge greets its first guests in December. This exquisite property, set in a riverine forest on a bend of the Sand River, features nine suites raised above ground giving the impression they are floating over the riverbed. Sunken lounges, a private lap pool and en-suite bathrooms with indoor and outdoor showers all add to the indulgent feel. The lodge will also have a beautiful massage and gym area, where guests can relax between safari activities.
Re-opening in December, after a total rebuild, is Cheetah Plains Camp. In the northern Sabi Sands area the camp will feature three individual ‘micro-lodges’, each comprising four suites, two lounges, dining areas, an outdoor boma, wine cellars and heated swimming pool. The micro-lodges operate independently of one another and boast the services of a private chef, butler, guide and tracker. Bookable on an exclusive or suite-by-suite basis it will be a wonderful place to stay to experience all on offer in this exceptional wildlife area.
With daily flights to Vilanculos on the Indian Ocean coastline, it’s surprisingly easy to combine the wildlife rich Kruger area with the beach.
Private playground – Phinda
Another in the &Beyond stable is Phinda Homestead, the magnificent private villa on the Phinda Private Game Reserve which re-opened in September after a two year rebuild. Taken on an exclusive basis – so great for families or a group of friends travelling together – the villa accommodates up to eight in an atmosphere akin to that of a family home. There’s a dedicated guide, tracker and chef to look after every need.
Phinda itself is an extraordinary place with a magnificent tapestry of landscapes, from woodland to grassland and wetland to forest, interspersed with mountain ranges, river courses, marshes and pans. This varied habitat is home to an impressive range of wildlife including the Big Five as well as some rare and less easily spotted species. As well as day and night drives, tracking black rhino, participation in conservation initiatives and village visits are also part of the experience here.
It’s a reserve that combines particularly well with the Anglo-Zulu and Anglo-Boer battlefields.
See you at the beach – De Hoop Nature Reserve, Cape Coast
This magical coastal reserve half way between Cape Town and Knysna, on the Garden Route, is one of South Africa’s most spectacular beach locations. There’s fabulous whale watching between July and November (De Hoop hosted 1,100 last whale season), dolphins are present year-round, and nature walks into the fynbos or tidal walks round the caves and rockpools provide endless fascination. Snorkelling in natural tidal pools and sand boarding on the dunes provides plenty of entertainment for the more active.
Morukuru Beach Lodge opened its doors in the summer and comprises five beautiful en-suite bedrooms, a restaurant and bar area, pool and hot tub, and roof terrace with views over the Indian Ocean.
Lekkerwater Beach Lodge – once home to President FW De Klerk’s ‘Camp David’ – is due to open next April. Slightly bigger with seven bedrooms, Lekkerwater will operate on a two night stay with guests arriving and departing on the same day allowing visitors to maximise all on offer here.
Either of these two beach lodges would make a perfect stop off point on a trip down the Garden Route or just as a completely different couple of days as part of a safari holiday (malaria free if you choose Madikwe, Kwandwe or Samara).
Any questions on South African safaris?
If you’ve got this far and not found an answer to a question you have that we should have included, please ask in the comments section below, or pop us an email. We’ll be sure to reply and may amend the article to include our answer.
We would be delighted to help you plan a holiday, or answer any questions if you’re at an earlier stage. Our team of experts have travelled widely throughout Africa and can help you plan a safari in South Africa. We can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris. If you would like to talk to someone who has been there and done it, please just send us an email or give us a call.