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I was super excited to finally be able to return to the bush for a familiarization trip. This time, my destination was the Sabi Sands, a place that holds a special place in my heart.

My Adventure in Sabi Sands: A Journey of Rediscovery

After a long-awaited break due to the impact of COVID on the tourism industry, I was super excited to finally be able to return to the bush for a familiarization trip. This time, my destination was the Sabi Sands, a place that holds a special place in my heart.

First stop, Johannesburg

I started my journey in Johannesburg, where I made a quick stop at the Intercontinental Johannesburg, O.R. Tambo Airport Hotel. This conveniently located hotel never fails to impress with its impeccable service and welcoming staff. It’s the perfect place to begin any South African adventure when a stopover is required.

From Johannesburg, I headed to the Federal Air location and lounge. This small facility exuded a warm and welcoming atmosphere, setting the tone for the safari experience that lay ahead.

Our journey continued with a short flight on Flysafair from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit Airport. This delightfully charming small airport serves as the gateway to the lodges in the Hoedspruit and Timbavati areas. While waiting for our next flight with Federal Air, I struck up conversations with fellow travellers, exchanging travel tips and stories.

What made the experience even more special was the pilot meeting us at our table. It was impressive and added an extra touch of excitement. Soon, we boarded a 12-seater light aircraft, soaring above the bushveld and witnessing wildlife from above. The anticipation grew as we approached our first safari lodge, Arathusa.

Arathusa Lodge

At Arathusa Lodge, we were greeted with a refreshing welcome drink before being shown to the main lodge area. The staff took our dinner preferences, and we made our way to our cosy Bush Suite. The suites had an open-plan layout, with unique features like a bathtub located next to the beds and a shower with clear glass walls. It provided an immersive experience, connecting us with the surrounding nature.

The game drives at Arathusa Lodge were truly remarkable. Our ranger, Rory, and tracker, Ishmael, were an exceptional team. They went above and beyond to ensure memorable sightings, often fulfilling our wildlife wish list. Rory’s knowledge and storytelling skills added depth to our safari experience, sharing intriguing historical information about the prides of lions in the reserve.

The evenings at Arathusa were filled with great conversations over dinner. We met fantastic guests and shared laughter with an entertaining staff member named Ronny, who delighted us with his funny jokes and distinctive voice. The lodge had its own airstrip, which was quite impressive.

Overall, Arathusa Lodge provided a wonderful experience, though I would consider it more of a 4-star lodge in the Sabi Sands area.

The next day, I embarked on a road transfer, from Arathusa Lodge to Dulini Lodges, with Nick from Seasons in Africa, our preferred supplier for all road transfers in this region. Nick’s expertise and knowledge of the Sabi Sands region added a valuable perspective to our journey. As we travelled through the reserve, we encountered sandy untarred roads, rural villages, and even some potholes. It was an adventure in itself.

Dulini Lodge

Arriving at Dulini Lodge, I had the pleasure of exploring three distinct lodges: Moyo, Leadwood, and River. Each lodge offered luxurious accommodations and a unique atmosphere. Moyo impressed with its light, airy, and inviting design. Leadwood exuded intimacy and charm, while River captured my heart with its stunning views and beautiful rooms.

Leopard Hills

Next on my itinerary was Leopard Hills. The friendly staff welcomed us with a refreshing drink, and we settled into our gorgeous rooms with private plunge pools. The game drives were exceptional, featuring sightings of various animals, from big cats and hyenas to owls and hares. The organization and knowledge of the rangers, Mowell (Mo) and Steward, along with the trackers, made every drive memorable.

I highly recommend Leopard Hills for its impeccable service, friendliness, and attention to detail. It’s a five-star experience that should not be missed.



Lion Sands River Lodge

At Lion Sands River Lodge, I found a modern and chic lodge perfect for larger families with younger children. The lodge’s own photographic gallery added an interesting touch. Although wildlife sightings were limited during my stay, the overall experience and being out in the bush were truly amazing. The food and the boma dinner, accompanied by singing and dancing, added a delightful cultural element to the evenings. Our ranger, Ozy, and tracker, Heavy, made the game drives enjoyable and informative.

I also had the opportunity to visit Lion Sands Ivory Lodge, an intimate retreat suitable for couples, honeymooners, and those seeking a quieter atmosphere. The attentive and friendly staff made the stay truly memorable.

As my journey came to an end...

As my journey came to an end, I couldn’t help but reflect on the highlights of the trip. Exploring new lodges and meeting fellow travellers enriched the experience. Listening to the rangers’ captivating safari stories and, most importantly, being immersed in the African bush and witnessing wildlife were the true gems of my adventure.

Thank you for joining me on this incredible journey back to the bush. It’s a place that never fails to captivate and inspire, and I can’t wait to share this magic with future guests.

In this article
  • My Adventure in Sabi Sands: A Journey of Rediscovery
  • First stop, Johannesburg
  • Arathusa Lodge
  • Dulini Lodge
  • Leopard Hills
  • Lion Sands River Lodge
  • As my journey came to an end...

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