If your thinking about trying a safari in South Africa why not head for what is certainly one of the world's most luxurious private lodges, Sabi Sabi, on the edge of the Kruger National Park. The Big Five of African wildlife, elephants, rhinos, water buffalo, lions and cheetahs are waiting to meet you.
Going on safari can be a five-star travel experience. You do not need to rough it in the slightest, or stay in a tent with wild animals wondering outside.
AME Info visited the Sabi Sabi private game reserve and entered a world of unashamed luxury in the Bush Lodge. This has 25 huge villas to accommodate guests with all the usual five-star hotel comforts and extremely spacious bathrooms. There is also a private courtyard to observe visiting monkeys and an outdoor shower.
However, after dark guests need a ranger to accompany them back to their rooms. For although the reserve is protected by an electric fence to keep out the bigger animals, smaller beasts do get inside; we encountered a warthog after lunch although it was more interested in eating fresh grass than guests.
The Sabi Sabi safari day begins early with a 5.30am wake-up call for coffee and croissants before a 6am safari on board an open-top Land Rover vehicle which gets you up very close to the animals in safety. You are back for a hearty breakfast in the open air restaurant by 9am, and can go for a walk in the bush, again accompanied by a ranger, this time with a rifle, just in case.
Our extremely experienced and knowledgeable ranger said he had never shot an animal in his life and hoped never to do so. But it is clearly better to be safe than sorry if you are out in the bush.
And the animals certainly are there. In just a two-night stay with three safari trips we saw the full Big Five of African game: lions, cheetahs, water buffalo, elephants and two rhinos fighting over territory.
Getting upfront with a herd of elephants smashing their way through the trees is not something you forget in a hurry. Or rhinos locking horns like two musketeers and dueling until blood was drawn. Amazingly none of the animals appeared concerned by the noise of our vehicle approaching and just got on with what they were doing.
The Sabi Sabi safari package included breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner around a camp fire, albeit with the executive chef appearing in his whites to explain the menu of the evening. The evening of safari also provided time for pre-selected sundowner drinks at sunset in the best colonial tradition.
We flew into the Sabi Sabi's private air-strip in a Federal Air bush taxi from Johannesburg airport, and were astounded at the standard of hospitality achieved in such a remote location. But Sabi Sabi has been welcoming guests for over a hundred years from film stars to sheikhs, and they really do it very well.