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Carmen travels to the Sabi Sand and Thornybush Reserves for you


Flight from CPT-JNB-SKZ, arrival at 11:00am at Skukuza Airport, which is such a stunningly cute little airport and with a very welcoming Bush Vibe.

Transfer by Lion Sands to Lion Sands River Lodge (duration approx. 35 minutes).


We arrived at River Lodge which features 20 Rooms, a bar area, covered lounge area, covered dining area, open dining area (under a tree), spa, curio shop and a swimming pool.

The lodge is tastefully modern, mainly decorated in earthy colours. Even though the lodge is relatively big (20 rooms), one never feels that the public areas are overcrowded, and it has a very homely feeling.

We stayed in a luxury room, which is a good sized room with a nice bathroom and small terrace.

The superior luxury rooms are very spacious with good sized bathrooms and, of course, a big terrace.

The river suites are super-sized with a huge bathroom and all around terrace and are the only ones with views of the Sabie River.

We had a great game ranger while we were here and had super sightings, including a big herd of buffalo. My wish came true to see Wild Dogs with pups, and we even got a glimpse of a cheetah, which is very rare in this area.


Transfer to Tinga Lodge, the Grande Dame of the Lion Sands lodges.


The lodge has 9 rooms. The suites are very big with a great sized bathroom, panorama shower, and a terrace with plunge pool. The rooms have a colonial touch and are very elegant.


After the morning game drive, I did a bush walk to Narina Lodge and this one is just sooooooo cute.

Arriving at the main area, one can see through onto the Sabie River – I did not pay any attention to anything else upon arrival, just the great views. There is a cosy little main area (dining area etc), but no swimming pool.

Narina Lodge is directly (a few meters away) on the banks of the Sabie River with great views from every room. There are 9 rooms, which are wooden chalets and have been recently revamped. The furnishing is now light wood with some touches of colour – modern but not overly done. Each room has a terrace with plunge pool.

Ivory Lodge was still being renovated so I did not have the opportunity to view it during this trip.

At all the Lion Sands Lodges, the food was great and the personnel are just awesome – It all makes one feel so at home.


Transfer to Skukuza Airport (duration approx. 5 minutes) and pick-up by Mala Mala Lodge (transfer duration approx. 50 minutes).

Arrival at Mala Mala Main Camp was a flash back / dejavu/ nostalgia to the earlier times of Game Lodges (experienced this in Kenya) and it was just awesome.


The style of the lodge is hard to describe – suffice to say that the lodge has a great history which has been nicely preserved. The Main area has a small bar with a great atmosphere, big inside lounge area and a massive outdoor dining area with views over the Sand River and swimming pool. Even though this is a bigger lodge, one does not feel the presence of too many people.

We stayed in a luxury suite which is a huge room and has two bathrooms, and a terrace with a view of the Sand River.

I could not go into a room at Sable Camp but saw the main areas (lounge, dining room, etc.) – it has a swimming pool and great all around viewing deck. There is more privacy, and it is great for bigger families or group of friends.

Rattray’s is very elegant, has only 8 rooms which are all the same, each with two bathrooms, plunge pool and is done in a tasteful colonial style.

Our game drives where just amazing, as the vegetation is beautiful and the sightings are just fabulous; we saw leopards, lions and my favourite – Hyena Queen with cubs). And the best of it, one very rarely sees another game drive vehicle.


Transfer to Sabi Sabi Selati Lodge (approx. 40 minutes).


Selati is the lodge of yesterday (meant in a most positive way) – just the way I like it – small (8 rooms) and cosy. It has a small village vibe with a great dining area over-looking the water hole (this had many visitors while we were there – rhinos, buffalos, etc). The property features many antiques from the old Selati railway line. The rooms are a good size with a rondavel bathroom. Our room had an outside bathtub and a good view of the water hole.

Sabi Sabi site inspections:

Earth Lodge is stunning (13 rooms) and I liked the design and the wood work.

Little Bush Camp – just too cute and small (6 rooms). It has been tastefully renovated, and is very modern (Boutique Hotel Style)

Bush Lodge, is very big (25 rooms), and has also been tastefully renovated, in a very modern Boutique Hotel Style


Private Transfer Selati to Thornybush Waterside Lodge (duration approx. 2 ½ hours), the drive was uneventful and quiet.


We arrived at Waterside Lodge (Thornybush) to be picked-up by n’Kaya (privately owned). We did a walk around at Waterside Lodge which is a very nice 3* property (20 rooms). There is a pretty viewing area over the tranquil lake.

n’Kaya Lodge is a very small lodge with only 4 rooms. They are all similar (2 bedrooms each with bathroom en-suite) located around the swimming pool, open bar area and dining area. There is a main building with inside dining area and a lounge area with a big open fire place.

n’Kaya has a small water hole with a very nice hide for observing birds and animals from.

The manager couples are very friendly, knowledgeable and entertaining. 

This is a good for families and group of friends as it is very private.

Site inspection:

Monwana Lodge (privately owned) is also a very small lodge (4 rooms), and is very cosy and private. There is lots of wood furniture and the construction is mostly of wood. I guess people would not consider it modern, but it has lots of charm from a bygone age.

Serondella Lodge (privately owned) is another very small lodge (3 rooms) which is again very cosy and private, and also features lots of wood furniture and wood construction.


Transfer to Thornybush Main Lodge (duration approx. 30 minutes).


This is a very nice lodge with 20 rooms, but you don’t feel the people there, even though it is quite busy.

The rooms are all similar, with a very spacious bedroom with full front glass windows looking out onto the terrace, a panorama bathroom and an outdoor shower.

There is a great view of the river bed and I had a small herd of giraffe in the river just in front of me. 

The main area with bar and swimming pool is open and airy.

The lodge is modern and tasteful, but they are busy renovating all the rooms.

Very good food and gin & tonics.


Transfer to HDS Airport (duration approx. 45minutes). HDS (small, old school, military airport) is totally the opposite of Skukuza, but we were thankful that we had the opportunity to fly in and out. 