IVORY LODGE, LION SANDS
By Rhiannon Taylor, March 2017
The newly renovated Ivory Lodge makes no apologies for being a jaw-dropping architectural masterpiece. Lounging in the indoor-outdoor lobby upon check in, sipping on iced tea, you're surrounded by modern furnishings that buck the classic safari lodge trend. The suites are no different, with floor to ceiling glass windows that give unparalleled views of the Sabi Sand landscape that lies just beyond your private plunge pool. Polished concrete floors feature throughout the split suites which offer separate bathroom, bedroom and living quarters.
Mornings start early with a tray delivered through a discreet sliding hatch with tea and a snack. By 6:30am you're bouncing down the gravel road in an open-air Land Rover Discovery with your ranger and tracker, watching the sunrise over the lush South African bush. The Lion Sands Game Reserve is bursting with wildlife and you're overwhelmed on the game drives (which happen twice daily) with sightings of Zebra, Antelope, Giraffes, Rhino's, Buffalo, Elephants and Leopards.
The experienced rangers allow guests to get up close with the wildlife and it's incredible to witness encounters such as Hyenas stealing a Leopard's kill right before your eyes. After a quick coffee stop (spiked with local liqueur Amarula perhaps?), you're off searching for more wildlife stopping along the way to marvel at the South African bird species and plants.
Back at the lodge your butler awaits to serve you a sumptuous breakfast which includes meats, cheeses and a main of your choice. House made granola, omelettes and porridge all use local herbs, fruits and vegetables. Lunch features game meats like antelope served with gnocchi. It's incredible and uses the best of South African produce and fuses it with modern influences.
The day can be spent at the spa, relaxing poolside or participating in a nature walk before you're off on an afternoon game drive to continue your search of the big five. And if you're after an immersive safari experience book in for one of the Treehouses for a one-night stay where you will watch the sunset, feasting on a picnic, to a soundtrack of wildlife chattering in the distance. Spectacular!
THE TURN DOWN
ACCOMODATION CATEGORY: Luxury Safari Lodge.
ROOMS: The Ivory Lodge is Lion Sand Game Reserve's premium lodge. Each suite comes with a king bed, freestanding bathtub, outdoor shower, indoor rain shower, dressing area, kitchenette, Smeg fridge, dining area, lounge area, plunge pool, outdoor sun loungers and outdoor dining area.
ROOM PICK: Ones nearest to the river for elephant and hippo sightings.
MINI BAR: Complimentary and restocked daily with South African wines, nougat, crisps, jellies, nuts, soft drink, coconut water, still water, sparkling water and beer.
POOL/GYM/SPA: Each suite has their own pool and there is a full gym and spa on site.
TURN DOWN SERVICE: Yes.
RESTAURANT/BAR: All meals are included: Morning snack, breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. Snacks and refreshments are also served throughout the game drives. There is a full service bar at the restaurant which is open for guests to utilise before and after dining and throughout the day.
FEEL: Sophisticated Safari.
LOCATION: Sabi Sands.
CHILDREN: Over 10's welcome however we don't recommend the safari experience for young children.
RATES: Starting at $4500 AUD per night, twin share.
GOOD TO KNOW: Despite the name Lion Sands the lions in Sabi Sands have mostly moved in to the greater Kruger National Park. We did spot a pack of lions but the Sabi Sands is know for it's wealth of Elephants, Giraffes, Leopards, Buffalo, Rhino, Antelope and birds.
South African Airways flies internationally in to Johannesburg from a variety of ports, including Perth, Australia. https://www.flysaa.com/
From Johannesburg you can drive to Sabi Sands easily in 5 hours, with a small fee payable on entrance to the park.
Airlink (www.saairlink.co.za) flies once daily from Johannesburg to Mala Mala Airstrip, a 45-minute drive from the hotel. Federal Air (www.fedair.com) flies to Skukuza Airport (25 minutes away), and there are flights from both Johannesburg and Cape Town to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (1 hour drive away). You can also arrange a private charter to Skukuza airport.
I stayed as a guest of Lion Sands.