I recently published my first airline review of the flight with Lufthansa to Cape Town. Now I want to share with you my first hotel review about a very special place, which is more than just a hotel. During my three weeks of vacation in South Africa, I stayed two nights at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve .
I had a lot of activities and places on my list. One of my top once was to do a safari, on which I would have the chance to see the big five. The african travel agency “Going to Capetown” recommended to overnight at a lodge, which is located inside a wildlife reserve and offers daily game drives. The photos of the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve looked stunning. At first I was not convinced, because of the the high rate. But in the end every penny was worth spending.
The Main Gate of the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is about 270 km (approx. 3 hours) away from Cape Town. The landscape changes from green valleys to a more rough and mountainous countryside. A little bit of Jurassic Park feeling kicked in when waiting the big gate to be opened. A short drive on a gravel road took us to a Welcome Lodge, where we had to leave our car behind. After a warm welcome of the manager and some refreshments a transport took us to our lodge, where we would stay for the next two days. The ride lasted about 45 mins and we already got some amazing impressions of the landscape.
Insider Tipp: Try to manage to use the earliest pick up time at the Welcome Lodge, so it will be more relaxed and you will have the chance to go on a game drive in the evening.
The reserve consists of three different lodge categories. We stayed at the most exclusive and luxurious lodge, called Dwyka Tented Lodge. The location is truly impressive. The nine tented rooms are concealed by striking rock formations. The roof of the “room” reminds of a tend but the inside can keep up with a five star hotel. The design of the tents invoke the feeling of a pioneering adventure with a modern touch. Luxury safari at its best!
A tented room for two adults features:
- private deck with heated jacuzzi
- outdoor shower
- big comfortable bed
- ensuite bathroom with bath tub
- air condition (hot and warm)
- private mini bar
- amazing views (leave the TV off)
In the centre of the tented lodges is the main building, which features a cozy lounge, the reception and the restaurant (also open air). In the lounge is a telescope to watch the stars. I highly recommend to use it since there is only little artificial light. Adjacent to it is a smaller tent, which features a relaxation retreat. I booked a full body massage.
Wifi: You do not really need it. It is a good feeling not to be reachable from time to time. In the main lodge is Wifi provided with decent speed. The signal reached only some rooms.
Insider Tipp: Do not leave the jacuzzi cover open with the lights on after sunset. A lot of animals will join you in the water.
The interactive game drives last up to three hours and take place in the tranquil moods of sunrise and sunset. Since it was summer in South Africa the day started at 05:00 am with a nice wake up call of the ranger. The game drive starts at 05:30 am in a comfortable open Land Cruiser.
In think we had the best ranger I could imagine. Owen explained everything in detail and was able to show us all major animals really close. We got to see the big five: elephants, rhinos, buffalos, lions and leopards. Additionally we got to see giraffes, zebras and many more. In all situation we felt safe, even when we stepped out of the Land cruiser to watch the cheaters eat. This experiences I will not forget in a lifetime! The Sanbona Wildlife Reserve aims to restore the ecological balance, that is why the animals are protected by a fence. Therefore the probability to see many animals in a short time is relatively high.
Evening game drives offer a spectacular sunset over the Little Karoo. With a glass of gin tonic we enjoyed the amazing colors on top of a hill while the sun was setting. After arriving back at the camp you we offered a wet towel and drinks in the lounge to reflect the experiences of the day together.
Food and Service
As you know I am a “Foodie Pilot” which means I am really picky when it comes to food. Keeping in mind that the next supermarket is definitely not around the corner, the menu offered a good variety. I really liked the south african cuisine, which was tasty. I especially liked the BBQ evening, which offered many flavors and dishes I never had tasted before. The atmosphere during dinner was cozy since there are only a maximum of 18 guests in the lodge at the same time.
The staff was really friendly and the service during meals was really good. The manager of the lodge was really caring and we had some good laughs with her.
What to pack for the adventure:
- Safari hat
- Outdoor shoes
- Warm clothing
- Sun screen
It is not solely a classic hotel review. It is more a review of an adventure in the wilderness. I recommend to stay at least two days at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve. I really enjoyed the time and I was sad to leave this unique place on earth.
The price during high season was over 800 Euros (night/room), which included meals, accommodation, game drives and much more. Nevertheless I had high expectations, which were surpassed. In the end every penny was worth spending for this amazing experience.
Have you been on a safari before?
Your Pilot Patrick