The sun has just risen and the surrounding bushveld is glowing with translucent golden light. There’s rustling and activity in the surrounding bush, as we lie listening to the birds and beasts as they wake up to the day. Overnighting in stilted Tinyeleti Treehouse in Lion Sands, has got to be the ultimate up-close-and-personal bush experience. There you are, with your favourite person, safely relaxing amidst the treetops as if you’re the only two humans in a million miles of Africa.
After a decadent picnic supper by lantern light, you’ve spent the night under the stars in a four-poster feather bed festooned in netting. And this morning, after a shower, there’s a freshly packed picnic breakfast to enjoy, while savouring a special time alone in the wilds – and watching wildlife come down to drink from the Sabie River right before you. It’s not just romantic but a deep communion with nature that has to be felt to be truly understood. The experience is pure magic.
This sleep-out option is just enchanting, and so too is Narina Lodge set high on stilts with it’s fresh-faced, youthful atmosphere and organic chic style. It’s right on the Sabie River – any closer and you’d get wet – and its views are panoramic and spectacular. Lion Sands is a beautiful private concession of 4 000 hectares that borders onto renowned Sabi Sands and the Kruger National Park, so it has all the diversity of wildlife sans the crowds. And as the name suggests, Lion Sands is reputable not just for the Big Five but for excellent sightings of big cats too.
With just nine suites under cool thatch, all guests enjoy complete privacy with private decks and plunge pools skirting their spacious suites, which also have lounge relaxation areas. Décor is invigoratingly fresh with smooth-sanded, wooden contemporary furniture and floors, and décor with pops of colour in lime green, mustard and sage. It’s a sanctuary for honeymooners, couples and families – actually, anyone who appreciates vibrance and the great outdoors.
Game is so prolific, you’ll see it from your canopy bed or when you’re soaking chin-deep in your egg bath, from your private deck or heated plunge pool, and that’s without even leaving your suite for a twice-daily game drive. Adding to the full safari experience are cosy boma dinners to enjoy around a leaping fire, stargazing up at clear skies and treating yourself to a body therapy at the spa sala, surrounded by wilderness and wildlife. It’s the full safari experience, both beautiful and authentic, and with the Sabie River always flowing past.
Reviewed by Keri Harvey
What we love
- the incredible bush and river views from anywhere in your suite
- that elephant walk right past the stilted main lodge deck
- organic twig-like lamp fittings
- being so close to the game-rich Sabie River
- dry-stone packed feature walls with fireplaces
- the unusual, fresh, soft colour accents throughout
Need to know
- children from age 10 are welcome
- Narina is in a malaria area
- the lodge is 550 km from Johannesburg
- daily Airlink flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town to Skukuza Airport