Described by a recent visitor as ‘7-star perfection’, Elephant Lodge, in a prime spot on the banks of the game-rich Sabie River, is a real treasure. It falls within the 290-hectare Elephant Point private estate bordering the world-famous Kruger National Park and neighbouring the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, which means it is not only ideally situated for a bush getaway, it is also surprisingly accessible. It is just a 40-minute drive from Skukuza Airport, 60 minutes’ drive from Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport and five hours’ from Johannesburg. Even better, the Paul Kruger Gate into the Kruger National Park is a mere nine kilometres away.
Elephant Lodge takes its name from the elephants that are often spotted drinking and grazing on the banks of the hippo-filled Sabie River, while you may also be lucky enough to spot buffalo, lion, leopard and numerous antelope species from the privacy of the deck. Elephant Point estate’s immediate surrounds are famous for Big 5 game viewing, with an especially high density of leopards.
But now we’ve explained why its iconic location is so perfect, we are going to let the words of its guests speak for themselves about why the self-catering Elephant Lodge is such a sublime safari destination:
‘This was one of those rare exceptions where one is left lost for words to describe the experience. Nothing is wanting in service, comfort and quality. Breathtaking views and comfort fit for VVIPs. Our week felt like a month, and we departed determined to return,’ reads one review.
‘The combination of luxury living and the tranquillity of being in the bush was something special. The separate, uniquely decorated rooms gave all guests their own space, but when it came to entertaining we were spoilt for choice. The open-plan kitchen, lounge patio and pool area create an amazing open-plan space during the day. The sunset deck saw many G&Ts and exquisite sunsets. The upstairs bar/lounge was perfect for nights when there was a nip in the air. And then my absolute favourite: the boma. Sitting around a fire in the bush, a star-filled sky above, good friends and an endless supply of wine, all the perfect ingredients to make the stresses of modern life just melt away,’ says another happy visitor.
The globe-trotting owner (who is an interior designer by profession) custom-designed every aspect of Elephant Lodge together with her architect. Inspired by her travels to North Africa, the home is a rich and welcoming combination of modern safari aesthetic and a Moroccan magic that lends the lodge an extraordinary serenity. Gracious archways and cloistered and cool courtyards hint at a North African mystique, while all the best elements of safari style celebrate the lodge’s prime location in this game-rich hot spot. Chief among these is the attention that has been paid to maximising the indoor/outdoor flow, with a multitude of spaces – think game-viewing deck complete with bar and lounge, rooftop sundeck, swimming pool deck, boma – to relax and unwind while you soak up the sights and sounds of your lush riverine bush surroundings and the pristine Sabie riverfront, where hippos wallow and grunt.
The four river-front guest suites – each with king or queen beds, crisp 100% percale cotton linen, ensuite bathroom with extra alfresco shower or bath, in-room tea and coffee facilities, air conditioner and fan – are sanctuaries in themselves, where you can relax in complete comfort and privacy. Special touches include the gourmet kitchen (complete with Lacanche stove and Kitchen Aid appliances and state-of-the-art coffee station), which is kitted out with all the herbs, spices, teas, coffees and basic ingredients you may have forgotten to pack, while a ‘prior to arrival’ perishables shopping service is always on offer.
Assuming you can bring yourself to leave the divine luxury of Elephant Lodge, there is absolutely masses to keep you busy in the area, including game walks, self-drive game viewing or guided open-vehicle safari drives in the Kruger National Park. Keen golfers will delight in getting in a round or two at nearby Skukuza or Kruger Park Lodge golf courses, while those seeking more hedonistic pleasures will revel in a day visit to Summerfield Rose Retreat and Spa.
What we love!
• That you book your game drives at one of the lodges in the nearby Sabi Sands concession (subject to availability), or you can do your own in the Kruger at your leisure.
• The Moroccan-style decor and a roof terrace to match – great game viewing from up there!
• That the Panorama Route is on your doorstep: explore Blyde River Canyon, Bourke’s Luck Potholes and don’t miss the new Graskop Gorge walk (head down into a forest canopy via glass lift and walk to the waterfall).
What you need to know…
• That the house is 34km from Hazyview, the adventure hub of the area, yet it is right on the Sabie River and overlooks the Kruger so game viewing is excellent from the pool deck.
• Skukuza Airport (inside the Kruger National Park) is a 40-minute game drive from the house so you can book a game vehicle to collect you off your flight.
• Nelspruit is an easy 1½ hours’ drive away. Both Nelspruit and Skukuza have direct flights from Cape Town.
• Pre-shopping is possible and the boma on the Elephant Point estate does dinners on Wednesday nights (booking advisable), but Elephant Lodge also has its own private boma for starlight dinners every night.
• The closest entrance to the Kruger National Park is Paul Kruger Gate (9km). Don’t forget to pack your Wild Card for complimentary entry.
• Elephant Lodge does accept children under 12 by special request: the pool is uncovered and there is a drop-off from the pool deck. Children also need constant supervision on the roof terrace upstairs. Please give us the ages of your children when you enquire.