Jenny’s South Africa Trip Report – Part III

June 3, 2013  By: Gretchen

Have you been following Jenny’s recent adventures in South Africa? Here is the final installment of her trip report from her trip last month. Enjoy!

We had a chance to sleep in this morning! We departed for the northern Sabi Sand after breakfast.  We drove about 2 hours to the park gate and were met by our hosts at Chitwa Chitwa for a thorough site inspection and lunch.  Each room at Chitwa Chitwa is individually styled and decorated – while they all have the same amenities and are the same size, they have their own individual flair.  The rooms are spacious and very contemporary in style.

After a walk about, we settled down in front of the Chitwa dam, a permanent man-made water source in front of the lodge, to enjoy a lunch of wine, cheese and meats.  While we dined, the sommelier chose a nice wine from the cellar for us and we were treated to the hippos bellowing in the dam.  It was so peaceful, so Africa.

Following lunch, we headed to Simbambili, where we will sleep tonight.  Simbambili is a solid 4* camp with very sweet management and well-appointed, spacious rooms.  After a quick clean up and settle in, we headed out on the afternoon game drive with our guide Richard and tracker Celebrate.

Another excellent drive – we caught up with a male cheetah eating a fresh kudu kill.  This was especially lucky as cheetah are quite rare in this area.  We watched for our allotted time (you have to share with other vehicles in the Sabi Sand, and there is a 2 vehicle limit at each sighting) and then moved on to see other great game and sundowners on the airstrip.

On the way back, Richard treated us to a star gazing before arriving back at camp for a boma dinner under the stars.  Simbambili camp has a spotlight on a grassy area in front of camp so you can watch ‘bush tv’ during dinner.  It was little quiet this night with just a little mongoose moving through, but our ranger said that the previous night they watched a few hyena having a feast!  Our dinner was quite tasty – springbok salad, tomato soup, duck with apples, and a fridge-set cheesecake for dessert.  Wasn’t difficult to sleep soundly in the comfy beds after that!

A little sleep in the next morning, then we caught our quick hop on Odie Air to the Sabi Sabi Airstrip (about a 5 minute flight).  It’s a busy morning with lots of site inspections – we saw the Lion Sands portfolio of River Lodge and Ivory Lodge as well as the entire Sabi Sabi Collection including Bush Lodge, Little Bush Camp, Selati, and Earth Lodge.  My favorites of the bunch are Ivory Lodge, Little Bush Camp and  Earth Lodge.

Ivory Lodge feels very exclusive with only 6 units, and quite intimate.  Little Bush camp also only has 6 units, also very romantic but in a more rustic way.  Earth Lodge is a true treat – built into the hillside, it’s like being in a very classy cave.  We also enjoyed lunch here which was a delight – lots of salads to choose from and excellent hot dishes including oxtail, grilled fish and a terrific burger to name a few.

After lunch, we moved on to our final stop of the trip – Singita Ebony.  Singita Ebony is the very first Singita camp ever constructed – and feels very old-world style with deep dark wooden ceiling beams, old pictures, and romantic, plush furnishings.  There are so many activities here to enjoy – archery, star gazing, fishing, wine cellar tastings, walks, bike rides and good old game drives (if you can tear yourself away from your gorgeous room!).  Lucky for us, we were in time for an afternoon game drive on the breathtaking concession.  It was truly remote and special, we didn’t see many other vehicles besides us.

We had sundowners on the beach area overlooking the Sabie River and then afterward found a female leopard on a hunt for impala, but her efforts were being thwarted by a hyena.  Our guiding team of Ranger Ross and Tracker Johnson was a very smooth and polished, professional team.  They were incredibly informative and fun, too.  Just before arriving back at camp, we had another star gazing tour of the skies, with the bush noises in the background.  Better than the movies any day…