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nycglamourgirl Mar 16th, 2004 07:37 AM

Oh Knowledgeable Ones, Simbambili or Chitwa Chitwa?
Reading this forum has helped me immensely. In fact, almost any question I have had has already been asked by someone else and answered! Now I'm very close to finally booking, and I think I've narrowed down the game lodges for a four-day Kruger trip to Simbambili Lodge and Chitwa Chitwa. I've read so many good things about Chitwa Chitwa on this site, but then I realized I could take advantage of a promotion that would let me book Simbambili for the same price (it might be a bit less than Chitwa Chitwa, come to think of it!). While Simbambili sounds great on its own website, I haven't seen any reviews of it, as there are of Chitwa Chitwa on this site.

Anyone have any tips on which I should go with? Pretty please?

sandi Mar 16th, 2004 03:35 PM

Let me say that I'm not personally familiar with either except from their websites and comments, specifically on Chitwa Chitwa.

First, you don't mention the time of year of your travel and that might have something to do with the special at Simbabili. But it is also very possible that Simbabili is hurting for business.

Simbabili is one of the more luxurious lodges in the Timbavati, though doesn't get the play as does a Londolozi, Singita and the likes. Also, with the lousy exchange rate between the USD and ZAR, it is no wonder that many of the higher priced luxury lodges aren't hurting (not that Americans are the only visitors to SA).

I would suggest, since you have four days - do both - 2-days each. Many people only spend 2-days at a camp. While 3-days are ideal, if you have the opportunity to visit two different camps on two different reserves I'd go for it. If you decide to do this, be absolutely certain that you arrange for the transfer between camps; they are a distance from one another - at least a 2-hr drive, unless you choose to arrange for a flight which can be costly.

Hope this helps.
(from another NYCgal - LOL!)

safarinut Mar 16th, 2004 03:42 PM


Having stayed at both I can offer the following:

These two lodges share the same traversing rights so in terms of game viewing it's a tie.

Food- Simbambili

Accommodations- Simbambili

Guides- Difficult to name a winner.

Location- Simbambili

I found Simbambili more luxurious and intimate.

safarinut Mar 16th, 2004 03:51 PM


"they are a distance from one another - at least a 2-hr drive"

Do you mean Chitwa Chitwa and Simbambili?

safarinut Mar 16th, 2004 04:39 PM


Chitwa Chitwa has two camps:

1]Safari Lodge-neighbouring Simbambili and no more than 20 minutes drive.

2]Main Lodge[Game lodge]-located next to Djuma Bush Lodge and not more than a 40 minute drive to Simbambili.

safarinut Mar 16th, 2004 05:07 PM

An article written by Lisa Wolf[iafrica]

A taste of heaven in the wild
Lisa Wolff

It?s quite a challenge for a safari lodge to be lavish yet tasteful at the same time and avoid tarnishing the natural surroundings with gaudy decor. But let me tell you, Simbambili Game Lodge, situated in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, has achieved this.

The tasteful decor of the lodge lounge
Each piece of furniture, every decoration is gorgeously classy and yet completely blends into the wild surroundings. The intelligent use of browns and ochre?s, the tribal accessories and richly dark wooden furnishings add warmth to the ambience. It's this subtle sophistication that brings visitors closer to nature, that makes them feel that they're exposed to the bush and the animals, rather than enclosed in a confining hotel.

More about Sefofane Air Charters
Sefofane offers two kinds of charter:
Full Charter Flights
'Seat in' charter: for flights between game lodges.

CLICK HERE for more info about Sefofane and contact details.

How to get to Simbambili

Click image to view enlargement
Whilst you really do feel in the centre of the wild at Simbambili, the lodge is quite accessible by plane and by road. Probably the most recommended route is to fly to Eastgate airport in Hoedspruit and then travel by charter plane or vehicle (90 minute drive) to Simbambili.

We were flown from Joburg?s Lanseria airport by two expert pilots from Sefofane Air Charters. I?m not a good flyer so I wasn?t looking forward to being a passenger in a tiny plane. But the flight in that luxurious Cessna Caravan 14 seater was a breeze ? smooth and quick - we were there in just over an hour.

The Cessna Caravan
After making sure that there were no kamikaze antelope on the runway, the pilots landed perfectly on the short airstrip. Two Simbambili rangers were waiting for us. They piled us into Landrovers and drove us back to the lodge.

The Simbambili 4x4
The welcoming party was out in full force with every single staff member from housekeeping to management singing, dancing and jostling to shake our hands. So this is how the queen feels. It is this sincere hospitality that gives the lodge that extra edge. Simbambili may be six star opulence but it has no inkling of pretension.

The lodge is managed by a husband and wife team. So perhaps this is why Simbambili has that family warmth and sense of laid-back affability that is usually so rare in a luxury establishment.

Simbambili sleep
Now let me tell you about the rooms. The heavy wooden door was opened by the friendly porter and I instinctively knew that I?d hit heaven. I wished that my eyes were bigger so I could take in the whole gorgeous picture in one sight. The decor of the room was subtle with a pervading bush essence. Everything seemed to fit in perfectly, as if each accessory was carefully planned so that there would be absolutely no jarring of the senses. The effect was truly tranquil.

Shower heaven
In the centre of the room was a large sleeping area, draped attractively with the ubiquitous mosquito netting. The bathroom was the ultimate, though ? it housed a free standing shower with no curtains or doors, only a nozzle directed towards a mosaic patch of floor. The bath was in the shape of a half shelled walnut ? also free standing.

My private plunge pool
It gets better... both the bedroom and bathroom have glass doors which open up into the piece de resistance ? the patio. Here was a dark watered plunge pool and a sala, which is an outside bed. And from either amenity, you can watch the waterhole just a couple of metres away.

The Simbambili sala
There are no gates surrounding the lodge so you?re just as likely to catch a glimpse of a giraffe coming to drink as a lion on the prowl. A little scary, I know, but the rooms are on stilts so you?re quite safe. But just as a precaution, you?re not encouraged to sleep outside at night and a ranger will always accompany you from your room to the main area.

View from the sala
After a delicious brunch, I spent the afternoon whirl-winding around my room. I wanted to make sure that I experienced every facility. So I dipped into the plunge pool, then went to lie on the sala, then tried out the shower, followed by a bath (which unfortunately took ages to fill up), then collapsed on the bed in exhaustion. I don?t think I?ve ever been more clean in my life.

Watching for the animals
And then it was time for the animals to get some spotlight. Simbambili lodge is situated in Big Five country and owing to agreements between nearby lodges, we were not restricted to only Simbambili land and had a much wider area in which to roam.

A Rhino crosses our path
During our twice daily game drives (at sparrows in the morning and then again at dusk), I noticed that the rangers of the surrounding lodges have a very symbiotic relationship. If we saw a big animal, our ranger Mike would radio to all the others and let them know and they would do the same when they had a sighting. They also had a curious language ? a kind of funigalore for the wild and it was quite amusing listening to them communicate.

Lisa and Mumps
Our tracker, Mumps, perched at the front of Landi, watching for prints and other signs that the animals were nearby. He was a keen tracker. Once or twice during the night drives, he would signal Mike to stop the vehicle. We would reverse back and Mumps would point out a chameleon in the boughs of a bush. Even the best camouflaged chameleon couldn?t outsmart Mumps.

A lovely lionness
Not only did he locate small creatures, but he found the bigger animals too. We saw all the big five in one night ? a huge elephant, two lionesses and their cubs munching on a tortoise, a hippo, warthogs, giraffes, we stalked a leopard and her two cubs and watched many a zebra and antelope grazing quietly. The variety and abundance of animals in the area was an absolute treat.

Bonfire in the bush
The Simbambili staff were always suprising us ? the one evening we stopped in the middle of the bush where there was a pre-prepared fire, meaty cocktail snacks and drinks. Another morning, breakfast had been beautifully laid out in the middle of a dried up river bed.

A wild brekkie
The food was always delicious. After an evening of game viewing a scrumptious dinner was a highlight and we would feast on a variety of soups, fillet steak, succulent chicken, veges and divine deserts. The food was never heavy and I left Simbambili knowing that I had eaten extremely well but had not put on ten kilograms in the process.

After spending two nights in the sumptuous surroundings of Simbambili, it was time to bid the bush farewell.
A gorgeous Simbambili sunset
I was feeling so utterly pampered, so serenely relaxed, I could have stayed in that plunge pool forever.

Whether you?re honeymooners seeking some solitude, stressed city slickers looking to escape or tourists wanting to experience the best that Africa has to offer, Simbambili will really get into your soul. It?s got a permanent place in mine.

nycglamourgirl Mar 16th, 2004 07:44 PM

Thanks so so much to both of you, SafariNut and Sandi. We're going to go ahead and do Simbambili--as it turns out, it will cost significantly less than Chitwa Chitwa.

We leave for RSA in mid April, and we'll be hitting Simbambili right about the 17th, after a few days in Cape Town. Thanks so so much for the comfort that we're doing the right thing! SafariNut--I'm sending my husband that article you forwarded from Lisa Wolf; I'm sure it will get him as excited as I am!!

Thanks again to both of you!

sandi Mar 17th, 2004 04:48 AM

safarinut - Boy, I must have been tired when I responded - thanks for catching my goof!

I was thinking Shimbalala (also quite luxurious) in Thornybush, north in Timbavati, when "nycglamourgirl" actually wrote Simbambili - close, but wrong.

safarinut Mar 17th, 2004 05:24 AM


I would rate Simbambili as the best lodge in the Northern Sabi Sands and it's great that "foreigners" can make use of the specials on mtbeds.

Roccco May 12th, 2004 03:31 PM


So, would you say that adding a couple nights at Simbambili prior to visiting Mala Mala and Singita would be worth my while?

Wonder if I would be allowed to fly into Mala Mala even if it was my second stop. I do see that Simbambili and Mala Mala border each other, but I would prefer a nice slow buildup to a powerful climax (sorry, sounds like a porno), starting with Simbambili, Mala Mala and finishing up with Singita.

I may have limited time, perhaps eight nights, and I am thinking of something like Simbambili (2), Mala Mala (3), Singita (3) but I may add a third night to Simbambili. For sure, I do not want to cut a night off of Mala Mala or Singita.

How is the river frontage at Simbambili? I realize that it does not have Sabi River frontage, but it does look like some tributary or other runs through Simbambili.

I was pleased to read on Taga Safaris website that no children under 12 are allowed. By 13 years of age, children DEMAND their own room, making it a more expensive endeavour for the parents and steering them elsewhere. One cannot completely hate children until they have been on a game drive with them and listened to them debate whether Christina Aguillera or Britney Spears is the better singer! ;)


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