Our first trip to Kruger and the Sabi Sand Game Reserve was about 8 years ago. We stayed at Singita Boulders and it was fabulous. Honestly, it was one of the 2-3 nicest places we'd ever stayed. I always expected that when we returned to South Africa, we'd stay there again.
After extensive research and use of the Trip Advisor online forums, though, we decided to try Londolozi's new Granite Private Suites. The difference in price between the two was maybe $100 per night--which is nothing at these rates. With that said, we now love both places. In some regards, they are similar, in others quite different. Since both experiences are so great, the balance of our review won't really be about pros and cons of the two as much as about pointing out our perceptions of the similarities and differences.
Londolozi and Singita properties are adjacent to one another and approximately the same size (both are larger than all other Sabi Sand properties excepting Mala Mala). Londolozi perhaps has a bit more land on the north side of the river and better traversing rights to the south. Also, the two have limited traversing rights with one another, which is great. As readers of the Trip Advisor forums constantly debate the importance (or not) of the size of the traversing area, I'll add our 2 cents--bigger is better! We were there in the middle of summer (February) when it is more difficult to see the animals due to the foliage. With that in mind, the larger the area you have to search for game the better. In this regard, I would certainly prefer to be at Londolozi OR Singita since their traversing rights are so much larger than other Sabi Sand lodges.
Unlike Singita's 2 camps in the Sabi Sand (Ebony and Boulders) that both have about 8-10 suites, Londolozi has 5 camps (each camp having anywhere from about 3-8 rooms). Having walked through all of the camps at both properties, they all have their own charms and unique aspects. In terms of the LUXURY safari experience, though, I'd say that only Londolozi Granite Private Suites and Londolozi Tree Camp are comparable to Singita Boulders and Ebony. And because Tree Camp--beautiful as it is--isn't really right on the Sand River, only Granite Private Suites is really a direct comparison to Singita Boulders.
The villas at Singita Boulders and Londolozi GPS are both quite modern to contemporary. Both have lovely pools in all suites, spacious rooms, fabulous luxury amenities and wonderful views. As the name Granite Private Suites would imply, the rooms, while beautiful and luxurious, are full of granite, stone and cement and built right into the rocks along the Sand River. They are also extremely private. At Londolozi, the guests from the 5 camps do not really mix and each day's game drives are only with guests from your reserved camp. However, it should be noted that it's an easy walk among the camps, and it's fine to do so during the daylight hours. During our stay in GPS #2, we were the only guests in the camp for 3 days. As such, our 6 game drives were completely private--just the two of us plus Julian, our ranger, and James, our tracker--both of whom were awesome! Because Singita has many more suites, having a Land Rover all to yourself would be a much rarer occurrence--unless you wanted to pay hundreds of dollars additional per day for the privilege.
Room #2, by the way, is probably the closest suite to the river of any in the Sabi Sand. It's plunge pool is beautiful and larger than most. Unfortunately, it's also a bit harder to use because of its unusual "construction" and proximity to the Sand River. While the views from Rooms #1 and #3 at GPS might be slightly less dramatic, access to your plunge pool is vastly easier than in Room #2! Honestly, at these Singita and Londolozi camps, I don't think there's really a "bad" room.
The service from Jackie, the GPS camp manager, from Cry, our butler, and from the chefs, suite attendants, security, etc. was all genuinely warm and great. While Singita's service was equally professional, I must say that there was a warmth about the Londolozi (and specifically GPS) staff that I don't recall at much at Singita. Regarding the food, I'd say that our breakfasts and lunches were incredible and that dinners were very good. Sometimes, it seemed that the dinner courses might have been better if not quite so complex or elaborate. Still, it's hard to complain about private dining in either your own suite or at the main PGS pavilion by a crackling fire. On the whole, I'd give Singita a slight edge in the food department and Londolozi a slight edge in the service department. Both do a great job of catering to all your needs.
Like, the regular tracker at GPS, picked us up from our Federal Air flight when we arrived. We had read about him in other posts and reviews. Unfortunately, he had just learned of a death in his family and apologized that he would not be able to be with us for our stay. As I said, though, James stepped in an did an incredible job. Even in the middle of summer with all of the full foliage, he and Julian found not only the Big Five, but so many other animals and beautiful birds to show us--even a few spiders we would have been fine not seeing!. While our earlier trip was in May and the animals were easier to spot, I will say that the addition of so many migratory birds in February enhanced the experience. Our journeys across the rushing Sand River (yes, Julian got soaked) were thrilling and the animals looked great. Seeing them in the middle of the summer, especially the Burchell's zebras, it was noticeable how much happier and healthier they looked than in the autumn/winter months.
The Intangibles (if you're still reading):
Anytime you tell someone who doesn't know luxury safaris how much they cost, they are invariably shocked at the price--for a "hotel room" no less! Of course, for those of us who have had the privilege, it is so much more--it's an unforgettable experience! And in this "experience" regard, I tip my hat to Londolozi. While both Singita and Londolozi both have luxurious rooms and service, great food, large properties, and great staff, only Londolozi integrates this experience with the very people who call the Sabi Sand home. Adjacent to the premises of Londolozi is the Shangaan village (the Shangaan are the native people in this area). Many of the employees of Londolozi live there with their families (about 200 of them); there is housing, a school, computers, and a clinic with regular doctor's visits and medicines. They have sports teams, craft shops, and a community center. It is clear that the Varty Family (long-time owners of the property since the 1920s) have a great love and respect for the Shangaan people--and vice versa. Our visit to the village one morning, including the songs that the schoolchildren sang for us, was really an "experience" we will never forget. For this very sentimental and humanitarian reason, we give the slight nod to Londolozi Private Granite Suites over Singita--truly a great overall EXPERIENCE!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC