Situated in South Africa’s renowned Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Lion Sands River, and Ivory Lodge offer the best of nature that guests can possibly experience.
Lion Sands River Lodge
The stunning Lion Sands River Lodge is located in the Lion Sands Private Game Reserve and is the ideal place for families or friends who require a safari rich in connection. After a fire in 2017, the properties’ rebuild was designed to be open to natural light, embodying a traditional safari lodge, with contemporary décor, adding interesting and modern elements.
Arriving before check-in time, my butler Clifford is at hand to ensure that I am well taken care of, whipping up the most delicious latte for my enjoyment. He enquires from the chef whether they are able to prepare an early lunch for me and informs me that I am welcome to choose a table – the tables all face the magnificent Sabie River. Taking in the sights and sounds of my surroundings is absolutely incredible: to my right at the top of the tree, an African Fish Eagle is calling, and walking upstream in the river is a lone hippopotamus. My lunch is delicious, as is all the cuisine at the Lion Sands properties in Sabi Sand. I opt for the perfectly cooked beef fillet, egg, and thick hand-cut fries, concluded with the melt-in-my-mouth vanilla ice cream.
I am staying in Suite number 9, a short walk from the main area. Clean lines form an airy space, and the dreamy bedroom has views of the river from my bed and my private terrace. With interiors done by Cape Town-based interior designer Caline Williams-Wynn, owner of Artichoke Interior Design, the outcome was superb. “Throughout the interiors of River Lodge, we used different mediums, such as tiles, string light pendants, leather, terrazzo, and clay bricks to create different sensory elements,” Caline tells me. “Guests move from one space to the other, experiencing oversized visual elements that create a theatrical feel. The colors used are earth tones that are all inspired by nature.”
A stay at a safari lodge includes twice daily game drives, and this afternoon, field guides Ozy and Tracker Heavy are excited to show us what is out there in the bush. The private concession of 30,600 acres is a playground for a variety of species, and we can hardly contain our delight when we find the Southern pride of lions resting in the shade. The are three adorable cubs, aged eight months and we sit with them for a while before continuing on our search for the next sighting.
Lion Sands Ivory Lodge
The undisputed jewel in the Lion Sands crown, Lion Sands Ivory Lodge is an architectural marvel. Only eight one-bedroom suites are spaced far apart for absolute privacy and exclusivity with views of the Sabie River. Inspiring deep connections to nature and one another, the lodge is the essence of luxury.
With the use of natural materials for the exteriors, the inspiration for Ivory Lodge was Mother Nature, and cleverly incorporating the rawness of the surrounding bush environment was Marneweck Swart Architects. The fusion of steel, wood, thatch, glass, water, and sand resulted in a stylish mid-century theme and a timeless design.
For the interiors, bold furniture, edgy décor, ambient lighting, and interpretations of tribal design were used to reveal a uniquely tactile experience. Custodian and CEO Robert More is hands-on across all aspects of the MORE Family Collection properties and was involved with both the interior and exterior process at Ivory Lodge from start to finish.
“With Ivory Lodge being our flagship property, we brought glamor to the bush,” Robert says. “We used oversized photographic images of bird feathers to bring color into the lodge. The spaces were designed to be uncluttered and spacious.” Staying in the Bateleur suite, it is clear to see the effect of oversized photographs, doors, and floor-to-ceiling windows. Creating a true feeling of space, I hardly want to leave my luxurious environment.
But a game drive beckons, and I am always keen to see what the bush has to offer. Field guide Syd and tracker Joyce round us up for our morning safari. I can just decipher what Syd is saying on his two-way radio to another guide, and it’s clear that we’re on our way to something worthwhile. As he comes into view, I catch my breath as he is one of the most magnificent animals I’ve seen in a while. His name is Hanyile, which means survivor in Shangaan, and he is the dominant male of Lion Sands. A perfect conclusion to an extraordinary stay – seeing my favorite animal on safari while luxuriating in the best lodges in Sabi Sand!
How to Get There
Airlink is a privately owned, independent premier regional airline offering the widest route network and connectivity to more than 45 destinations in 15 countries in Southern Africa.
With more than 60 regional jetliners in the fleet, Airlink has been ranked as South Africa’s most punctual airline, based on its 97% average on-time performance year to date. This is a clear indication of their determination and commitment to remain synonymous with customer centricity, punctuality, service excellence, and reliability.
Travelers can also enjoy the benefit of their intra-continental style business class service on select routes operating our magnificent Embraer E-195 / E-190 / E-170 / E-jets.
How to get there: Airlink operates direct flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg to Iconic Skukuza Airport in the heart of the Kruger National Park.
Book directly on the FlyAirlink app or with your Travel agent.