Whether it be a grand gesture, a special occasion, or check off of that mighty bucket list; an African safari goes beyond a typical holiday. It takes months of planning, scouring reviews on the internet, and real-life discussion with family and friends before cautiously booking…and even then, many people who finally commit are concerned that they may have chosen the wrong place.
I have been lucky enough to go on many safaris. However, there is still only one that stands out in my mind as the best: Lion Sands 1933 lodge in South Africa. This location, along with all the More Hotel properties, are family owned. This is likely why the quality of their properties surpasses a perfectionists expectations.
When I arrived at the Lion Sands Game Reserve in Sabi Sands, I was collected by my guide. We drove in a regular car until we reached our game drive vehicle, which was placed near the beginning of the reserve. They unloaded my luggage and we took a quick evening game drive before arriving at the lodge.
After a sunset drive, I reached the historic home. I was informed by the friendly staff that Lady Gaga had just departed from the luxurious 1930s lodge. High profile public figures unsurprisingly find solace at this destination because it is a completely private home, which functions with all the amenities and a full staff you would find in a traditional lodge.
We were greeted by three butlers, kitchen staff, head chef, massage therapists, and skincare experts from the spa. And since I had the honor of filling up the private house with loved ones, the thirteen friends and family members who joined me on this adventure were now going to be taken to their rooms.
Even though the1933 lodge is essentially a luxury house that allows you to bring over a dozen loved ones, there is still complete escapism in each room. The main bedroom is the only room attached to the living quarters. Each additional bedroom is a private bungalow. The rooms all have large floor-to-roof windows, stand alone bathtubs, outdoor showers, and all face the solitude of the Sabi river.
If you happen to have children, they have created a fairytale like dormitory that is in the main living quarters. Next to this is a lovely room for a nanny. However, the master bedroom attached to the main quarters is also close enough to make parents feel comfortable leaving their children in this delightful space.
After we all rested the first evening, I had a chance to properly view the property in its entirety. I was completely taken aback by this location…
The 1933 lodge has a gorgeous outdoor area with richly colored stained decks and a large pool. (Many lunches were served out here during our stay.) When you walk down the stairs outside you’ll enter the wine cellar. To the left of the cellar is a full gym (including sauna) that faces out to the Sabi river, so you can watch the wildlife right in front of you as you ride the treadmill. The outdoor portion of the gym doubles as an in-home spa. This is the area where all spa treatments are done.
Although the 1933 lodge allows you to schedule things at your leisure, there was a basic rhythm to our schedule that we all seemed to stick by (for the most part).
Here is what a typical day at the 1933 lodge looked like for us:
Lion Sands Daily Itinerary
6:00 AM – Pre-breakfast snack prepared by the lovely head chef (which looked like a full-breakfast to me)
6:15 AM – Game drive
8-10:00 AM (Depending on what we find)- Back to the 1933 lodge for a full breakfast prepared by the kitchen staff.
11:00 AM – Swimming and lounging by the pool
12:00 PM– Lunch prepared by staff and served outside next to pool.
1:00 PM– Massage therapy
2:30 PM – Cocktails prepared by 1933 lodge staff/in-house butlers and free socialization time.
(This sounds much more formal that it actually is. The in-house staff is so friendly and warm that they merge flawlessly with any group of people. The staff is present without feeling like they are waiting around to help you, they are there whenever you may feel like a drink, and they offer assistance frequently without every coming across annoying.)
3:30 PM – Trip to the Lion Sands gift shop. The shop is filled with top-of-the-line local craftsman made items and is open to guests of all Lion Sands properties.
4:30 PM – Pre- game drive refreshments. This includes teas, coffees, and baked goods. A favorite for everyone in the group.
5:00 PM– Game drive. The length also dependent on what you find and how everyone is feeling.
8:00 PM– Dinner. This can be located anywhere and is often a fun surprise for guests. There is a typical outdoor boma (South African barbecue) twice a week, indoor classic dining, and the surprise bush dinners which happen unexpectedly during game drives. For example: your guide will be taking you on safari and suddenly you will pull up to candles surrounding a remove area in the bush. It is a full outdoor experience straight out of a fairytale- fireflies and all.
And before I forget, there is also a special option that any guest can reserve for an evening: The Lion Sands Treehouses
You can book a bedroom atop a specially crafted treehouse in the middle of the bush. This provides couples with all the romance, adventure, and inspiration they could ever imagine. And yes, you are left there alone all night!
Choose from one of three.
So whether you’re planning an upcoming trip or this is filed in your mind as a wildest dreams, I will leave you with these thoughts: Do not settle when it comes to a safari. There are many places that over-promise and under-deliver- Lion Sands does the exact opposite and surpasses even the most creative imagination.
852 USD per person per night.
*Children under the age of 6 stay free of charge. Children between 6-15 pay 50% of the adult price.
249 USD per couple per night.
For more information, please visit the Lion Sands 1933 Lodge homepage. Or contact firstname.lastname@example.org