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Need Lodge Recommenation

Washington DC...
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Need Lodge Recommenation

We’re a group of 4, 3 (mid 50’s and late 70’s) adults & a 13 y.o., planning a trip next winter to Sabi Sands for 4 nighs. I’ve narrowed it down to three choices: Elephant Plains, Inyati, and Dulini. Although all three are in our budget, the rationale for each is Elephant Plains provides an excellent value and has a very good track record. Inyati is situated on a river so we expect excellent viewing; Dulini has the luxury factor and has received rave reviews. Main focus is on the number and variety of animals, limited number of guests, 6 guests to a vehicle, large property or traversing rights, and preferably on a river.

Questions: we will not have a vehicle, what are the options for getting to the lodges? Pickup from airport or lodge airfield? Based on the criteria, what are your recommendations? Did I miss any lodges? thank you

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Dulini Lodge
Dulini Lodge
457 Reviews
Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa
Leopardsong Manor
Leopardsong Manor
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Aerotropolis Guest Lodge
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Dulini Lodge
Dulini Lodge
#1 of 40 Speciality lodging in Sabi Sand Game Reserve
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1. Re: Need Lodge Recommenation

Hi there

I guess you have read the reviews of all three lodges here on TA, and have found that any of them will give you a great experience, and be aware that everyone will recommend their favorites based only on ones that they have stayed in.

You will need to decide fairly quickly, as you may have seen in a recent post Elephant Plains for example books up a year in advance, so I would suggest maybe even making contact with them right now to ensure availability for your dates, as this may then affect your decision. Especially as you are a group.

As for Dulini and Inyati, both are virtually neighbors and do traverse the same lands, meaning there will not be much difference in the game viewing, in fact it could be pretty well identical. If you read though the lodge reviews, the descriptions of peoples sightings and experiences will be virtually exactly what you can expect when you are there, as numbers and variety of wildlife in these areas does not change drastically, apart from the lion population which does vary considerably. Right now the lion sightings are better in the north, but all this could change by next year.

We have stayed at Dulini several times and it is a magnificent lodge in a beautiful and very intimate setting, has wonderful food and service, and the staff there will make you feel like family. Inyati is located right on the river, also in a lovely setting, and we have spent time sitting in the river watching the elephants graze on the lodge lawns. Inyati accommodates 25 guests and Dulini 12, so both are relatively small compared to some lodges. I would say the main difference would be luxury levels, but as you can see this is reflected in the price, which by the way will not indicate quality of game viewing opportunities. Leopard sightings across the western sector are fabulous at the moment and as there are lots of cubs around, hopefully the current population will be sustained. The river at the lodge may or may not affect the sightings, there is always wildlife outside our room at Dulini, and we have had elephants drinking in the pool and leopard and lion walking through the lodge grounds, but much the same has been seen at Inyati.

The biggest difference that would determine my choice would be the number of people per vehicle. I know at Dulini it is absolutely guaranteed to be six maximum. This would be definitely a deal breaker for us as we like to be just two across in the seat, for many reasons. For others it is not an issue, but I notice you do mention this so it needs to be pointed out. We have often seen vehicles while out on drives, that are full up with nine to ten guests. So I do believe that only one of the lodges you have mentioned can guarantee the six max. So in a group of four like yourselves the vehicle you have would just be for the four of you plus two other people on the third row. In a full vehicle you have three of you on one row and the fourth would be sitting with two different people.

I would not really start looking at other lodges, if you have already narrowed it down, it only gets confusing with more choice, though if you like we can advise which lodges have the six pax max. Once you choose your lodge then you would work out transport as some arrange it from the lodge.

Enjoy planning, it’s such a tough choice lol

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Dulini Lodge
Dulini Lodge
457 Reviews
Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa
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2. Re: Need Lodge Recommenation

EP has high occupancy rate. It is very unlikely yr vehicle will have 6 passengers.

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3. Re: Need Lodge Recommenation

You can always pay more for a private vehicle for your game viewing if you want more intimate experience, but this site explains how the lodges differ from another:

http://www.safaribookings.com/sabi-sands

So you won't have the largest game viewing area if you choose EP, for example and you'll see other game viewers there even if you booked your own vehicle.

If you need transport to the lodge, you can take a Fedair shuttle from JNB directly to the nearest airstrip (they fly a couple of times a day), or you can fly domestic flight to Hoedspruit (or some other local) airport and have a car or a plane to take you to the lodge. All of those options can usually be booked through the lodge you will be staying at, and they have fixed prices. EP is showing the prices on their website.

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Johannesburg Intl Airport
Johannesburg Intl Airport
Johannesburg, South Africa
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4. Re: Need Lodge Recommenation

Thank you thesandmans. Very helpful information and will take your advice to book now. You're right about the deal breaker. Last time at Sabi Sands we stayed in a lodge which offered 6 pax per vehicle and saw a few lodges whose vehicle maxed out at 9. Way too many people for me.

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5. Re: Need Lodge Recommenation

Mrs_MM77, taking your recommendation with Fedair from JNB and thank you for the weblink.

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Johannesburg Intl Airport
Johannesburg Intl Airport
Johannesburg, South Africa
Gold Coast...
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6. Re: Need Lodge Recommenation

Good news, I do hope you can get in, should be ok this early.

Have a wonderful trip.

Kenner, Louisiana
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7. Re: Need Lodge Recommenation

Hi, we just returned from Sabi Sands. We stayed at Arathusa and Nkoro for 2 days and 3 days. THe first has AC, the second doesn't. It will be getting hotter now! Assume you will take SouthAfrican Airways or equal to Hoedspruit and then have the lodge provide a private transfer from the airport back to their lodge. You don't want to drive. Roads are very bad and if it rains you can't get thru. Can't use the car after you get to the lodge anyway. There may be some group transfer companies that are less money. If money is no object fly to the lodge. It is about 2 hours on bumpy roads.

You need to check out the experience of your guides. Our first one was Cedrick and he is great. 10 years of experience. THe second one was just 6 months out of guide school and didn't know the roads yet. The best guide at Nkoro is Peter and his is good.

Arathusa has a large pond right in front of the lodge and there is a constant procession of animals. You almost don't have to go on the drives!!!

Having a large property and traverse rights is very important, but we saw everything at both lodges.

Edited: 16 October 2014, 19:56
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Arathusa Safari Lodge
Arathusa Safari Lodge
911 Reviews
Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa
SOUTH AFRICA
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8. Re: Need Lodge Recommenation

As always, excellent advice given by thesandmans! Cannot to wrong with Dulini, and to me the 6 on a vehicle also is a deal breaker. The sooner you book, the better. Occupancies for next year are already running very high at the good lodges.

Enjoy your safari!

Tanya * owner * Africa Direct

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Dulini Lodge
Dulini Lodge
457 Reviews
Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa
Tempe, Arizona
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9. Re: Need Lodge Recommenation

I need to speak in defense of the majority of the safari lodges in South Africa. The ones that do allow more than 6 guests in the vehicles. These threads come close to denigrating the experience that guests have at these lodges.

If you read Reviews of the lodges I am talking about - rarely do I see people complaining about their game drives. To the contrary - people rave about their experiences. A good example - Look at the six lodges in the northeast sector of Sabi Sand - only Chitwa Chitwa has the six-person limit. Then look at Reviews for the others. Elephant Plains, Simbambili, Arathusa, Nkorho, Cheetah Plains. Enthusiastic? I should say so.

Speaking of the Sabi Sand reserve as a whole, the majority of lodges will have more than six on board when necessary. And when we look at all of the other private reserves in this country, the six-person limit is uncommon - not the norm at all. But it is also certain that on many game drives, there will be six - or fewer - guests on game drives at ALL reserves.

I would not be surprised if owners of all these other lodges are somewhat resentful of these threads. As I said, we run the risk of positioning them as second-class operators. Is that what is described as an 'unintended consequence'?

Confession. I love Dulini. I have Mary and Colin booked there starting a week from today. And a honeymoon couple using it for their 'Big Finish'..

But it - and Londolozi, Singita, Lion Sands Ivory & Tinga & Narina, Singita, Rattray's - these are beyond the budget of many travelers and we do a disservice to them, and the lodges they will be considering, if we say and do anything that makes them feel as if their plans are a compromise of some sort. At least, that's my opinion.

Dave Patterson - Owner - The Sabi Sand Safari

Edited: 17 October 2014, 08:32
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2,585 posts
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10. Re: Need Lodge Recommenation

Hi Dave

I agree with you that we do not want the wrong picture to come across. If a poster however asks for a comparison between 3 different lodges, as was the case in this thread, then I do not think that we are speaking negatively of the other 2 lodges when we highlight the fact that the 1 lodge limits the number of guests per vehicle to maximum 6. Speaking for myself, in no way did I mean to speak badly of the other 2 lodges by highlighting this difference. I love both Elephant Plains and Inyati and I support them regularly. Both offer superb safari experiences and are great value for money.

Thank you for highlighting the potential problem that could arise from some of the postings above and I truly do hope that everyone will see each posting and comment within the perspective of which the OP asked a question.

Tanya * owner * Africa Direct

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