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mitchb Jul 2nd, 2006 09:49 PM

Safari Camp
We plan to go to one of the private game camps near Kruger Park. It looks like Sabi Sands area is good and we have also read that Thornybush is good. Does anyone have any experience with these? Also, any advice on who to use for booking? Many thanks.

santharamhari Jul 2nd, 2006 10:22 PM

Hi! Sabi sands area is your best bet for game viewing. Some very popular camps/lodges in the area include, Simbambilli, Londolozi, Mala Mala........

The three mentioned are very popular with most fodorites on these boards.

I dont know about Thornybush.......will lv it to other posters to comment. Ngala in the Timbavati area is meant to be very good also. They hv a wild dog pack that often move thru their game drive areas.

Hope this helps


santharamhari Jul 2nd, 2006 10:25 PM


If you are considering something ultra-luxurious......take singita into consideration. From reading trip reports from one of the fodorites recently, i believe Singita and Londolozi share a part of their traversing zones........



Roccco Jul 2nd, 2006 10:28 PM

Hi Mitch,

You will find many on this board with past experiences in the Sabi Sand, myself included.

There are many excellent lodges in the Sabi Sand. My own experiences are with Singita, Vuyatela and Simbambili. I will be visiting Sabi Sabi later this year. Here are links to all of them, as well as a few more: (Vuyatela)

I think a three night stay would be about the minimum time you would want to spend, although four or five nights would be better. Any more than five nights should be split between a couple different lodges.

Typically, you may enjoy low season rates between May - August, although this time will also offer very good gameviewing.

I must recuse myself from referring an agent, as I am in the industry, myself.

Wherever you visit in the Sabi Sand, you are nearly guaranteed very good gameviewing. The main difference will come in the accomodations and in the exclusivity (how many rooms does a single lodge have, what are the maximum passengers per vehicle on the game drives, shared dinners or the opportunity for private dining, private plunge pools or not, etc.)

Have a great time wherever you decide to visit!

mitchb Jul 3rd, 2006 01:34 PM

Thank you all for your responses. It sounds like Sabi Sands is the place to be. I'll just have to check on rates for Nov. time frame.

mitchb Jul 3rd, 2006 02:13 PM

Thanks for the website address. After checking them out I am considering elephant plains. We really don't need an ultra-luxury camp and this one looks very inviting. The main thing is the game viewing. Have you used this camp?

Roccco Jul 3rd, 2006 03:12 PM

Hi Mitch,

I responded on your other thread, as well.

While I have not stayed at Elephant Plains, I am familiar with the traversing area (this is the driving range) as it is also shared by Chitwa Chitwa and Simbambili. I stayed at Simbambili last September and enjoyed pretty good gameviewing...excellent leopard and rhino viewing, but not too many elephants, giraffes, buffalo or lions (but I did not mind as I had just seen plenty of these in Zambia during my stay at Luangwa River Lodge, Puku Ridge, Kasaka River Lodge and Chongwe River Camp).

As I mentioned in the other thread, E/P is a great value, but if you are going as a couple, it will not offer the most exclusive Sabi Sand experience and you will likely be sharing not only the camp but also the vehicle with families. The biggest concern, however, should be that E/P vehicles do allow up to nine passengers, while most Sabi Sand lodges restrict that number to six passengers.

I did post a couple more ideas for your consideration in the other thread (for a Zambian safari, instead, which would put you in low season). In that thread I suggested a minimum of a six night safari, but even if you only had as few as four nights to spend, I think a trip to South Luangwa would definitely be worthwhile. All it would take is a 2 hour flight from Joburg to Lusaka, followed by a 1 hour 15 minute flight from Lusaka to South Luangwa. For the extra 2 hours of travel in each direction, it is definitely worth it.

I mentioned Luangwa River Lodge in the other thread, but here is one more excellent camp named Puku Ridge:

Like Luangwa River Lodge, Puku Ridge has enjoyed excellent reviews on this forum (do a search for Puku Ridge).

The Sabi Sand is a fun place, but you should also know about South Luangwa as an option.

Roccco Jul 3rd, 2006 03:15 PM

(For November 2006, you would only be looking at $300 per person per night for Puku Ridge, and I really believe that if this camp were in South Africa it would be 2.5 times the price. Like Luangwa River Lodge it will offer a very exclusive experience)

safarilover Jul 3rd, 2006 04:14 PM

In the Sabi Sand area you might also consider Savanna or Idube Lodges. They are in the same vicinity as Londolozi, Singita, and Sabi Sabi, but considerably less expensive.

santharamhari Jul 3rd, 2006 06:52 PM


Any idea, what the traversing area of Exeter is in the sabi sands? Do they allow traversing into neighboring properties?


Travelings Jul 3rd, 2006 09:29 PM


I haven't been to either lodges that you're asking about, but I've been to both reserves and will hopefully be able to give you some insight as to Thornybush. Rocco's given you great information about Sabi Sand and it's definitely worth checking out those websites to get some prices. Another great site is - it lists all the properties in the Sabi Sand with websites and contact details.

I've been to a few places in the Sabi Sand - one very upmarket (Londolozi) and one that's probably on par (price wise) to Ele Plains (Nkorho) and wild life sightings at Thornybush compared favourably with Nkorho.

On to Thornybush. They're a closed reserve, so they're not linked to the Greater Kruger Park, although they border Timbavati, etc. The fact that they're enclosed did NOT make a difference to the quality of sightings we had at all - 99,999% of the time you're not even aware that the reserve is not linked to the greater Kruger.

I went to Tangala in Thornybush twice and we really enjoyed both visits. When we went there two years ago, they had a great guide by the name of Jimmy who has a passion for the bush - one of the best guides I've come across. Game viewing at Thornybush was plentiful - on the first visit we saw lions every single game drive with an amazing leopard sighting. On the second visit we had some magnificent moments with elephants and we were lucky enough to see the same leopard. We saw the Big Five on both occassions - herds of elephant, prides of lions and some species like Nyala, etc.

It also depends on what you're looking for in a game lodge. If it's exclusivity, then book one of the exclusive lodges (you can't beat them for being pampered and great service). If animals are the main motivational point, then you can look at a wide variety of lodges.

You definitely can't always compare the service of the upmarket lodges with some of the other lodges.

If I could afford a MalaMala or a Singita or Londolozi on every single trip to the bush, they'd probably be on the top of the lists, but I have been to other lodges that's not as upmarket and still had magnificent sightings and a great time.

Hope the rambling helped a bit :-)

Roccco Jul 3rd, 2006 09:45 PM


hehe...I have been lazily ignoring this question of yours that I have seen on other threads. But, given that I went to the gym and did an hour on the treadmill tonight, for the first time since my toe injury (4+ months), I am feeling a bit energetic and will get you an answer from the powers that be at CCA. :)

If I continue training, I may just be able to get a 30K trail run out myself before the next safari:

Time to start getting in shape again so I can do some of the more exciting races in South Africa in the next couple years (Two Oceans UltraMarathon, Comrades UltraMarathon, maybe even the Puffer 80K in the Cape Peninsula!).

santharamhari Jul 4th, 2006 05:56 AM


Thanks for asking for the info.

Ultras.....jeez, not in my peripheral vision!!!

I did get back on the trails this morning, after heavy monsoon-rain activity for most of last week.


Roccco Jul 4th, 2006 07:04 AM


I would only be doing the 30K for that race mentioned, but after seeing how far this place is, I would switch to a different race that looks much more interesting and is on much flatter ground. Definitely I would be walking a good portion of this race, but as long as I finish that is what matters:

This would give me 16 days to recover from the marathon before leaving for Southern Africa.

I should really try to run a marathon, even if I have to walk a good portion of it, before every safari. Given that I tend to lose weight on safari, this would be the best thing. Right now I am a big blob and need to get back in shape. I feel great having done a little running last night for the first time in possibly 5 months.

Unfortunately, I have never done a marathon when I have really been in shape, always at 230 pounds plus (and I am only 5'10"). I imagine that if I ever got down to under 200 pounds again that ultramarathons would be a breeze.

Okay...drumroll please...I have secured an answer for you on Exeter's traversing area! This just in from the fine people over at CCAfrica:

The Exeter lodges have traversing rights on Inyati, Ulusaba, Leopard Hills, Savanna and Idube (total of 10 000 hectares)

Kirkman's Kamp has traversing rights on Mala Mala.

(They also attached a pdf file of a map that I will send you by e-mail...if anybody else would like a copy go ahead and drop me an e-mail and I will happily oblige).

newyorkgolfer41 Jul 4th, 2006 09:24 AM

I've heard excellent things about Leopard Hills. Probably a lot le$$ than $ingita.

Roccco Jul 4th, 2006 09:38 AM


Yes, Leopard Hills looks very nice.

There are really about a dozen Sabi Sand lodges that appear to be fantastic. Although Singita may reign supreme, many others are not far behind:

Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge
Londolozi Tree (although priced the same or higher than Singita)
Lion Sands Ivory Lodge (about the same as Singita in high season but slightly less in low season)
Mala Mala Ratrays
Exeter Leadwood
Exeter Dulini
Leopard Hills

mitchb Jul 4th, 2006 01:36 PM

Thanks to everyone for the input. I am going to check the lodges that Roccco recommended in Zambia and also look at some of the other less expensive lodges recommended in Zambia. I particularly appreciated hearing that Ele P. draws lots of families. We vacationed with our own kids and often had a less-than-wonderful experience. Don't think I want to do it with someone else's kids.

Roccco Jul 4th, 2006 02:20 PM


Now that you are considering Zambia, here are a few more camps worth considering. I am limiting my recommendations to camps in South Luangwa because most Lower Zambezi camps close at the end of October. (Kafunta River Lodge)(This is an excellent value and does game drives in the same area as Puku Ridge)

Here is a seasonal calendar for South Luangwa, compliments of Kaingo, an excellent camp in a remote area of South Luangwa, but it unfortunately closes at the end of October each year:

For your flights to Zambia, check out as this website represents Zambian Airways and it will be half the cost to fly Johannesburg to Lusaka on Zambian Airways as on South African Airways.

Roccco Jul 4th, 2006 02:22 PM

(By the way, gameviewing should still be strong in the parts of South Luangwa that remain open in November).

mitchb Jul 4th, 2006 02:30 PM

Thanks. I just posted on the other thread that I found a trip through star of africa that looks great. Includes both Vic Falls & either Puku Ridge or Chichele. Any recommendations between these? Thanks for the tip on the air.

matnikstym Jul 4th, 2006 05:38 PM

mitch, definitely pick Puku Ridge over Chichele. PR is great, loved my stay there!

santharamhari Jul 4th, 2006 07:54 PM


Thanks for all the exeter information. Sounds like a pretty wide area. Just that, from either Dulini or Leadwood or river lodge you can't access the kirkman's area... but, the western section of the SSGR is pretty good on it's own. Lots of guides/trackers from other lodges to spot various game species...



mitchb Jul 5th, 2006 07:54 AM

I am happy to report that we have just booked a trip to Zambia visiting Vic Falls and Puku River Lodge. Couldn't have done it without all your help. One other question has come up. Does anyone know if there is a "left-luggage" or storage locker facilities at Jo'berg airport? We are coming from a cruise ship into Africa so will have more luggage than we want for our safari. Need to find a way to store it as we fly open-jaws into Zambia. Any suggestions?

Roccco Jul 5th, 2006 08:27 AM

Hi Mitch,

I posted a response regarding "left luggage" at the JNB airport on the other thread.

You are going to love Zambia.

stamiya Jul 5th, 2006 07:04 PM

Mitch - you made a good choice with Puku Ridge. We just got back from there last month, and my biggest regret of the entire trip was that we only book 2 nights at Puku Ridge. We had wonderful game viewing from our tent's balcony, almost any time of the day. And the tents are enormous! Food was great as well.

As to leaving your excess luggage behind, will you be overnighting at a hotel in J'burg? If so, they will probably hold your luggage for you. We did that at the Airport Grand Hotel (not so grand and not at the airport, but perfectly acceptable and reasonably priced). Sharon

mitchb Jul 7th, 2006 12:49 PM

Glad to hear that you loved Puku Ridge. We have 3 nights there. Sure am getting excited.

Roccco Jul 7th, 2006 03:15 PM

>>>the Airport Grand Hotel (not so grand and not at the airport, but perfectly acceptable and reasonably priced)<<<

"Not so grand and not at the airport"

Probably will not be making it into their advertisements anytime soon! ;)

However, this hotel does offer a great value and is near the airport.

BUENAVIDA Aug 30th, 2006 11:17 AM

Having just returned from Kruger Park area want to highly recommend the 3 camps we stayed at. Jackalberry Lodge in Thornybush, Ngala Game Lodge, Buffalo Camp in Kampala Reserve. All terrific with great animal viewing and gracious hosts. Even our daughter and 10 and 15 year old grands agreed. Everythins we ever dreamed of!

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