– REVIEW –
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Situated in the world famous Sabi Sands Game Reserve in South Africa, Savanna Private Game Reserve has shared traversing rights over the Western Sector of the reserve. This is a true wildlife haven! With access to the perennial Sand river, and communication system which allows clients to share incredible sightings, one is guaranteed wildlife photographic opportunities second to none.
With the convenient airports, Kruger Mpumulanga International and Skukuza less than an hour and half away from Newington Gate, the Western entrance to the Sabi Sands, arrival into Savanna feels like stepping into an oasis. Warm smiles from lodge manager Ally and all the wonderful staff members greet you with a specially produced cool drink awaiting you after your travels.
The lodge itself is centred around a number of waterholes, one large waterhole in front of the boma and dining areas and then a few smaller ones providing wildlife viewing in front of some of the rooms. Life abounds in every direction you look and includes naughty vervet monkeys hanging around for whatever they can forage (a good reason to keep your room doors closed when not in them), chattering of hornbills and starlings, and even the odd bushbuck walking around the rooms as you sip rose from your private heated plunge pools.
More on the rooms – there are different options however all have ample private space, which has no view on another and is separated by bamboo walling so as not to digress from the natural aspect of the surroundings, heated plunge pools, indoor and fantastic outdoor showering options, spacious bathrooms with a centred bath drawn conveniently every evening for when you return from a game drive, coffee stations, air conditioning and four post beds. The options include luxury suites, executive suites (slightly bigger than the luxury suites and with a seated lounge area and slightly bigger bathrooms) and the Savanna Suite. The Savanna Suite would be of high interest to small families (no more than 4 people) with two similar sized main bedrooms, a large lounge and patio area, fireplace and kitchen for those with a specialised diet. It even comes with its own private vehicle and guide to give a complete personal experience. Food is well thought out, plentiful and served in different settings so as to mix the experience up. Savanna is situated on the last remaining portion of the Selati railway, once a major connection between Delgoa Bay and South Africa. A dining experience, like no other we have experienced, includes eating a magnificent three course dinner in an old carriage on the rail line. Its these type of well thought out extras which often distinguish the difference between a good game lodge and a superb one.
THE SAFARI ASPECT
The main reason we go on safari is for the wildlife and nature. The Sabi Sands region of the Greater Kruger National Park is South Africa’s premier safari location and for good reason.
What is really enjoyable about the experience at Savanna is the customised Land Rovers on which your safari is conducted. Comfortable bucket seats mean that even the off road driving experiences, getting up close and personal with the wildlife, are not an issue. Middle seats have been turned into consoles to store ponchos, binoculars and bird books when needed.
One of my favourite past times, on the back of a safari vehicle at a luxury lodge, is to just sit back and enjoy the drive with your friends and loved ones while allowing the professional guides and trackers to find the wildlife or you. The abilities and knowledge of the trackers and guides (Dan and Life in our case) is incredible. They have a deep understanding of the cycle of nature in the bush and how everything is interlinked, absolutely fascinating to listen to. A combination of bundu bashing (off road driving) and shared radio communications between guides and lodges in the area ensures that you are literally going from one impressive sighting to another and spending decent quality time in close proximity to big game.
The comfortability of big game to vehicles is also noteworthy and we were able to follow leopards on patrol as well as sit next to big male lions and lionesses with six week old cubs without so much as a blink in our direction.
Although mentioned briefly, kudos to the staff at Savanna who are always one step ahead of what you require. Africa is full of happy, vibrant people and Savanna epitomises this. From Ally at management, to Dan and Life on safari, and Dan and Life (yes separate to the other two) who always make sure you are well looked after, with drink in hand or food on the way, it is the people that push Savanna to a highly recommended experience.