Having read all the reviews and seeing all the pictures I had really high expectations for this place, and if Arathusa had been the first lodge I'd visited in South Africa I wouldn't have anything to compare with and thus probably liked a lot more.
When we arrived we met the really friendly and bubbly chef who informed us about the food as I have gluten allergies, he made a great first impression of the place. We then met the lady in reception who honestly made us feel like we were disturbing her day, she quickly informed us about the lodge and showed us to our chalet.
I reserved a standard room as we really wanted to have a view of the lovely water hole at Arathusa. We were placed in the chalet(Jackalberry) connected with the spa which ment we paid standard fees but had a semi luxury chalet with a plunge pool, seating area and jacuzzi. Sadly it also meant that our view was somewhat blocked by a tree. But a really nice room.
The lodge itself is quite big and really beautiful with an amazing view from the main area.
On our first game drive we were showed to "our" car and met our ranger, Roy and our tracker, Derek. They were both really nice, and took the task of finding animals really seriously. But once we found an animal there was no more interest, or so it seemed. Sitting on the back row you often found yourself behind a bush or not being able to see anything before we rushed off to look for the next animal. It all seemed a bit rushed and there was no time to enjoy a sighting or making sure that everyone saw something before we left. None of the people in our car was the "cross the big five off our list"types and we all wanted to see giraffes as well as leopards and enjoyed actually watching the animals. Roy was really funny, but seemed to have a hard time answering some of the questions the americans in our car had about some of the animals.
I was really disappointed a couple of times. 1) We left a hyena den with cubs after a few minutes to have coffee instead. 2) My row was placed behind a bush on an amazing leopard siting with the leopard up a tree, even though there was a lot of place in front of the car. 3) A hyena came walking towards us with a lion in the distance, but instead of waiting and seeing what would happen it was time for coffee again. Arrgh!
The good thing about these game drives was that both Roy and Derek were really friendly. Roy asked us if we wanted to look for lions instead of having coffee which we did, and we even skipped the sundowner when there was rain to look for animals instead.
The food was ok, sometimes really good but often a bit boring. Plus for always having good options for gluten and other allergies. I enjoyed the kudu burger, ostrich sandwich, pear and goat cheese salad, and bobootie. Desserts wasn't their strong suit, but that doesn't really matter that much. They should probably do more of the informal braai and family style meals and less of the trying to be a fancy restaurant style.
A huge problem for us was that our chalet had bedbugs, I got around 20 bites in three nights and my husband got almost 30. Only when sleeping fully clothed on top of the bedlinens we got less bites.
So all in all Arathusa is a really pretty place, but it has the potential to be so much better with very little effort. We've been so many better places in the area so we won't be back, but it's an ok choice for first timers.
- Also Known As:
- Arathusa Safari Hotel Sabi Sand Game Reserve
- Hotel Arathusa Safari
- Arathusa Safari Lodge South Africa/Sabi Sand Game Reserve