Anisha Visits Savanna & Dulini in Sabi Sand
Earlier this year, Journey Specialist Anisha spent 2 weeks traveling throughout South Africa. One of the highlights of her travels was spending time at the exquisite Savanna & Dulini properties in the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve. Here are her thoughts on each of the incredible lodges stayed at:
The Lodge: Savanna is the only luxury tented in style camp in Sabi Sand and as such it offers an incredibly unique experience. There is just something about being under canvas on safari that is so romantic and exciting; I absolutely love it! Despite being under canvas, the hard-sided suites contain all the luxuries you can think of, including a free-standing bathtub in the middle of the large bathroom, indoor/outdoor showers, a private plunge pool on the deck and high-end amenities! One of the unique features of the lodge is their Savanna Suite, an opulent 2-bedroom villa that comes with your own private guide and vehicle. It is a great option for a small family or 2 couples looking for more of an exclusive experience!
Highlights: One of the highlights of my stay at Savanna was the food – it was incredible. They really have a talented chef. Savanna also has a communal vibe, so all meals are something of a social event. Everyone sits together at one long table at lunch for example, and it’s a great way to get to know all the guides, staff, and fellow guests. I loved that aspect of the Savanna experience. We were also treated to a glorious boma dinner one evening, with again some of the best food I’ve had on safari. Not only did we get a taste of local flavors with all sorts of delicious barbequed meats fresh off the grill and the most divine Malva pudding I’ve ever had but were also treated to an incredible show with singing and dancing from the incredibly talented people who live in the village just outside the reserve.
Best for: The Savanna Suite is perfect for families with young children, as it comes with a private vehicle for your game drives. I met a young family during my stay at Savanna and the parents were so happy and relaxed, as their kids were so well taken care of at the lodge. They provided a great kids menu for meal times and accommodated earlier meal times for them; they really go above and beyond for kids. On the flip side, I also met a couple who got engaged at the lodge! Couples who are looking for a great social atmosphere will love Savanna, as most of the meals are communal and the guides also join in, which is a lot of fun as you get to chat with other like-minded travelers and really get to know your guides as well!
The Lodge: Dulini Lodge is most certainly a 5-star property. The six rooms are massive villas with separate living room, bedroom, and an expansive bathroom with views out on the sprawling deck complete with private plunge pool and an outdoor shower. Plush accommodations coupled with fabulous food and personalized service make this lodge one of the top 5-star properties in Sabi Sand.
Highlights: Justin was the highlight of my stay at Dulini Lodge. He is the head guide at Dulini and is one of the best I have ever had. Justin shared so many amazing, moving stories with us about the wildlife and life in the bush. His passion for the bush is so infectious and our game drives were absolutely magical. I got to meet a lot of the other Dulini guides during my stay, and they all seemed to be incredible. Under the leadership of Justin, the guiding team at Dulini is truly one of the best.
Best for: Dulini Lodge is great for couples who are looking for more of a social atmosphere or groups of friends traveling together. I love the main lounge and dining areas at this lodge. There is so much space and many different areas where you can gather for pre-dinner drinks or enjoy a good book in the afternoons.
The Lodge: Dulini Leadwood is the most intimate lodge in the Dulini Collection. The three suites are gloriously appointed, with an open plan design that includes a separate living space, bedroom, and bathroom. The suite has floor to ceiling glass doors that open to the deck, so you have incredible views from every part of the room. My favorite features of this suite were the free-standing bathtub in the middle of the bathroom and the private lap pool on the deck. They even provide you with a full art kit which I thought was a great touch, as the surroundings here are sure to inspire the artist in anyone!
Highlights: The opulence and sheer luxury of the lodge and suites at Leadwood were, of course, a highlight of my stay. Our afternoon game drive was also very memorable as we came across something I’ve never seen before – a pair of mating leopards! After an exhilarating afternoon watching wildlife, we stopped for sundowners in a lovely spot overlooking a waterhole, and I enjoyed my last Amarula on the rocks in the bush. As we headed off into the night towards our lodge, Justin (our guide) made an unexpected turn and revealed a truly magical site, a clearing in the middle of the bush lit up by lanterns that hung off the trees, a complete set up for a lovely bush dinner. It was one of my most memorable nights on safari as we enjoyed dinner under the stars and listened to more of Justin’s stories about his life in the bush!
Best for: Dulini Leadwood is great for anyone that is looking for a quiet, more exclusive experience. With just three suites, Leadwood is great for honeymooners or couples looking for a romantic safari experience. It can also be a very good option for larger families, or three couples who want to take the whole lodge out on exclusive use.
Game Viewing in Sabi Sand
It had been a few years since my last trip to Sabi Sand, and this trip was a good reminder of how great the game viewing there is. Despite being green season, we still saw so much during our three days at Savanna & Dulini – lots of elephants, giraffes, a good amount of rhino, lions and of course, leopards!
The mating leopards were a unique sighting as I’d never seen that before, but my absolute favorite sighting was with Justin one afternoon, when we came across a breeding herd of elephants. Justin gauged the direction in which they were heading and rushed us down river and parked us in a prime position where we sat and waited. It still amazes me how incredible guides are at reading animal behavior, as sure enough, within about 5-10 minutes, the herd was emerging from the tall grass and heading in our direction. As they got closer to us, we spotted a tiny baby elephant who was being goofy as ever, flailing his trunk around and toppling over, he looked like he was throwing a little fit; his mama had to pull him back up on his feet! I love baby elephants and their antics, and this was such a treat to watch. With the exception of the one cheeky little baby, the rest of the herd was so relaxed and soon we were surrounded by grazing elephants with some passing our vehicle within arm’s reach! We sat in silence as the herd passed us and disappeared into the bushes on the other side. It was absolutely magical!