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Soukous

Savanna Lodge, Sabi Sands, Greater Kruger

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1)Name of property: Savanna Lodge,



2) Location: Savanna Private Game Reserve, Sabi Sands. Greater Kruger



3)Website address if known: www.savannalodge.com



4) Style of camp – ie; Lodge, permanent camp, mobile camp


It's a lodge. But the rooms are a combination of solid constructions and canvas. Communal buildings are timber & thatch.



5) Solo/Independent property or part of a group / chain


Independent



6) How many rooms, tents


A total of 9 rooms. The Savanna suite comprises 2 bedrooms and is great for families, there are 4 Luxury suites and 3 Executive suites. All of them looked pretty swish to me.



7)Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known) October 2013, Peak season



8)Length of stay: 2 nights



9)Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what?


Recommendations. Some tour operators get a bit snotty because Savanna Lodge is located right on the western edge of Sabi Sands, but guests love it. While we were there we met a couple who were on their 11th visit and others on 3rd and 4th visits. A real testament to the quality of the hospitality and safari experience.



10)How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Direct



11) Are you a regular safari traveller? Yes



12)To which countries? In terms of frequency: Kenya, Tanzania & South Africa. Also visit Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and others around the world.



13)Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to?


Other lodges in the private concession around Kruger include Motswari, Lion Sands, Sabi Sands Earth Lodge, Mala Mala,



14)Was the property fenced? Yes, to keep out elephants



15) How was your room or tent? Excellent


a> Space inside – more than ample


b> furniture – comfortable and functional


c> bed & bedding, was it comfortable? yes


d> was there a view – yes, the veranda looked out onto a waterhole which regularly had elephant and buffalo


e> To the best of your knowledge are all the rooms of similar standard. The lodge has 3 different styles of room, some are more luxurious than others but all are first rate



16) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why.


The food was great. A la carte breakfast, buffet lunch and set menu for dinner. All top quality



17) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?)


Yes, varied menu, yes, vegetarian option. Buffet always included vegetarian options and guests would normally inform staff upon arrival if they were vegetarian so other meals could be suitably prepared.



15) Can you choose where you eat, ie privately or with other guests, guides? Single tables or communal dining?


Mostly communal dining, either in the dining room or in the boma. But the whole atmosphere is so relaxed that I am sure private dining would not be aproblem.



19) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives?


N/A



20) Did the lodge / camp have its own game drive vehicles? (Include photo if possible)


Yes. First rate.



21) How many rows of seats? How many guests per row? 3 rows of seats, 2 seats per row with storage box between the seats of each row.



22) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken?


Morning drives were about 3 hours, afternoon drives about 2 hours – but it all depends on the game. Routes were varied according to where the game was.



23) Are game drive times flexible: ie, if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, ie not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you?


It can be done, but we did not do it.



24) What wildlife is this Park/ property known for? Did you get good sightings?


Sabi sands is renowned for its leopards and we got really great sightings. At the time we were there they also had a resident pack of African Wild Dogs and we got great sightings of those too.



25) How was the standard of guiding? (Please detail any particularly good or bad experiences.) Exceptional



26) How would you rate the staff in the camp / lodge? Were they attentive and efficient?


Outstanding



27) How would you rate the camp/lodge on a value for money basis?


It is not cheap, but every aspect of what is provided is well thought out and a lot of attention is paid to customer satisfaction. Nice attention to little details. Eg; when we left they put bottles of water and biscuits in our car.



28) If you visit this park / region again would you choose to stay in the same camp or would you look for somewhere different? If yes, please explain why.


If I was coming to Sabi Sands I would have no hesitation using Savanna again. Quite simply I cannot see what I would gain by going to a different lodge.




29) Trip report link:


Day 1


Day 2 - morning drive


Day 2 - afternoon drive


Day 3 - morning drive




30) Any other pertinent details you wish to add:



31) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings.


I don't usually bother with photographs of lodges or camps, they tend to have much better photos on their own websites.

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Oops, I forgot to include a photo of the game vehicles

 

savanna-land-rover.jpg

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The Brilliant Savanna Lodge, Sabi Sands

My first stop was to Savanna Lodge. I flew with Federal Air from Jo’burg which depending on the arrival of other passengers seems to adjust its departure time accordingly. This lengthened my transit time from 5 hours to over 7 hours by the time I actually boarded the plane.

After this experience and the fact that I arrived around 4am with Etihad from Abu Dhabi I would definitely book myself into the Intercontinental at Jo’burg airport to catch up on some sleep and to freshen up especially since the Federal Air doesn’t pick you up until 6.30am

The Federal Air Terminal offers a pleasant private departure area that provides tea/coffee facilities, cold drinks and snacks for guests. It has a lovely outdoor garden with plenty of tables/chairs and indoor lounges and tables. It is advisable to bring a warm jacket whilst waiting for your plane because the lounge and outdoor areas don’t warm up until after 9.30am. The small shop providing last minute safari attire did a bit of a trade with passengers not adequately dressed plus the lack of heating also probably assisted sales. The staff did turn on the heating after seeing how cold I and a few other passengers were. After about 10am the temperature was really comfortable and no jackets etc were needed.

The one-hour flight to Sabi Sands (I was told it was Richard Branson’s airstrip) was an uneventful flight. The strong smell of fuel from the moment we boarded was not a comforting sign and meant that many of the passengers were breathing through scarfs until after 20 minutes. The pilots were notified of the smell and told us that this was not an issue. The plane was quite cold during the flight until a Federal Air staff member flying with us asked for the heating to be turned on. Another reason to make sure you have adequate clothing during the flight.

Upon arrival in Sabi Sands a lovely man from Savanna welcomed me. Seeing I was the only guest arriving by plane that day I was whisked off along with my luggage for the 45-minute transfer/game drive to the lodge. Along the way I saw elephants and impala and sat transfixed at the beautiful countryside. My driver provided me with plenty of information about the area and the animals I was expected to see during my stay.

Once arriving at Savanna I was greeted and ran through the daily program. I was offered a snack and a drink to tide me over until lunch at 2.30pm. I was then taken to my room, which was a luxury tent.

My room was a lovely space to recharge my batteries before setting out on safari. The king size bed was extremely comfortable with side tables/lamps offering a lovely ambience to the room in the evening. The super large bathroom/wardrobe area offered all amenities required to freshen up after a game drive. This included a stunning bathtub, outdoor shower, indoor shower and separate toilet. The double sink offered lots of bench space especially since I was travelling solo. My only issue was that there were not enough plugs to recharge all of my batteries until I discovered the power board next to the wall on the other side of the room. The closet space was fine for the limited time I was there. The offer of free laundry certainly meant that the need for excess luggage was not necessary. The toiletries provided also meant that the need for sunscreen, insect repellent and body lotion was also not necessary. I wish I had known before I packed for a 3 week trip! The little front porch with two lounge chairs provided a great space to unwind between safari drives and was in front of a watering hole that on occasion had animals visiting it. There was an awesome mini-bar that had a wonderful array of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and treats in case I needed a snack. This was lovely and meant that I didn’t need to go to the bar all the time if I wanted a drink or snack.

Lunch was served around 2.30pm where I was introduced to my guide Patrick and the tracker he was training whilst his normal tracker was having his break. The food on offer at Savanna was completely unexpected and really delicious. It was always accompanied by South African wines, which were really nice. There were also more fine wines on offer at an additional charge. Other spirits and aperitifs were also included in the room charge as well as morning and afternoon teas. In regards to the food and drinks I never once felt hungry or thirsty and most days had to limit myself to only my main meals because of the amount of wonderful food on offer. The serving staff and my butler always remembered what kind of drink I liked and was always happy to offer other suggestions depending on the food on offer. They were also always there to welcome us back after a game drive with hot towels to wipe the grime off our faces for a quick clean up after our drives.

The dining experience at Savanna was normally with people who were on safari with you. Your guide also joined us for meals, which meant lots of stories from their experiences at Savanna and from my fellow travellers. I can say that my jeep was a wonderful group that included a couple from the UK, Cape Town and for the last two days a couple from the US. Everyone got on famously well and the laughs from everyone’s stories and jokes during the drives I believed contributed to the abundance of animals that were always happy to come and say hello to us.

As a single traveller I am always happy to dine alone but I did enjoy the meals at Savanna because it allowed all the guests at Savanna to enjoy a dining experience that is not normally associated with safari and especially allowed single travellers to feel comfortable without having to sit alone at “single” tables surrounded by couples and groups.

I was completely shocked and speechless at how many animals and how close the animals came to our safari vehicle. From the moment I arrived at Savanna I encountered the big five on so many occasions I lost count. I was truly blessed with amazing proximity to many animals, which allowed me to take so many incredible photos and videos to remember my time at Savanna. I would recommend that anyone who is not comfortable with such proximity consider how they will react on a safari because it is important to remain quiet and calm when on safari. I never once felt unsafe with my ranger or tracker and at all times felt they were making the right decisions to keep everyone in the car protected yet enjoying what Sabi Sands has to offer.

Normally you would share the car with your travel partner allowing for two people for every row and up to 6 people in the car. This was something that I was very happy with. In general over my time at Savanna I didn’t have anyone to “share” my row, which allowed me to easily take photos and videos without having someone to block my view. There is a hard box situated in the middle of the row to allow you to put your camera equipment and other incidentals to protect them and keep them easily accessible. It also kept a Savanna raincoat and clear glasses if you needed to use them. The box did mean that it was not possible to move across the seat if there were animals on the other side of the car. The car did have a day where we had 7 people and the middle box was removed in my row. I was not happy with this, but fortunately the 7th person took the front seat. I was not prepared to move my seat and certainly didn’t want two people next to me on my row prohibiting even more my view and access to seeing the animals on the other side of the car. I think this is super important to discuss with your travel agent and your lodge if you are a single traveller or photographer.

In regards to the “best” row to sit on whilst on safari is hard to choose. I was able to experience each row during my stay at Savanna. The first row provided me with the best access to video and photographic opportunities with having only the ranger in front of me plus being closer to the ground for any animals that were lying down. It also allowed me to converse with the ranger easily and to ask the 100s of questions that I had and to easily listen to anything the ranger had to say. The middle row was higher up and was ideal for those that were a little uncomfortable being closer to the animals. It was a comfortable seat and did allow me to still hear what the ranger was talking about without too much straining. The last row was great for offering a higher view but even better was the 360 degree view especially as we drove away from animals and it allowed me to get some great videos. I could never hear the ranger and what he was saying and he had to repeat things quite loudly if I wanted to hear what he had to say. In the end I didn’t bother listening to what he was saying and concentrated on watching the animals. The ride was always bumpy which meant that videoing or photographing as we were driving was not ideal for those that have any back problems or find climbing into the vehicle difficult.

Savanna also offers guests the opportunity to visit the local village, which provides many of the staff at Savanna. The tour is done between the morning and afternoon game drives. It allows you to see three local choirs that sing local songs, a trip to a local house to see how corn is husked manually and then a type of maize porridge is made. I was also able to try local handmade peanut butter, which was amazing. We then went to a local non-profit childcare centre offering childcare to disadvantaged babies and toddlers. It was a brilliant and very humbling experience. Savanna also sponsors a local after school care facility which provides help to local children who have been effected by HIV. Many of these children don’t have the opportunity to even eat one meal a day or have family members to assist them with homework or to provide a stable home environment. The centre allows the children to have at least one meal a day and to have an adult help with homework and study. The work these ladies provide is absolutely brilliant and will help bring a new generation to the village that has been severely effected by HIV/Aids.

I will never forget my experiences at Savanna. I look back at the videos and photos I have from my time there and at no stage did I ever look unhappy. I don’t think I have ever had a holiday where all I did was smile. I even shed a few tears as I left because of the wonderful way I was treated and the brilliant experiences I had during my stay there. I would definitely recommend anyone to visit Savanna and to experience the amazing hospitality they offer to each and everyone of their guests. It truly is a special place that everyone should try to experience.

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Posted (edited)

how about sharing some of your encounters and photos @@SaminKaz?

Edited by Soukous

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Posted (edited)

@@SaminKaz

 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and videos of Savannah. You did have a very special safari, but what i like is the thought of Savannah supporting the local day care after school. I'd be more likely to go to a camp/lodge that truly invests itself in the community as Savannah apparently does. It must have been very special day to actually visit, observe and meet those incredible folks.

 

Would also love to hear more of your upcoming plans for 3 months. Absolutely jealous!

 

Safe Travels....

Edited by graceland

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post-49296-0-32548800-1431217032_thumb.jpg

 

~ @Soukous:

 

That's one snazzy-looking vehicle!

Your photograph brings out the customized craftsmanship that went into providing a mobile platform for Savanna Lodge guests.

In my limited experience I've yet to see such a vehicle. If I ever do, I'll be looking for any way to click off a few discreet photos of it.

Really cool looking!

Tom K.

 

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attachicon.gifsavanna-land-rover.jpg

 

~ @Soukous:

 

That's one snazzy-looking vehicle!

Your photograph brings out the customized craftsmanship that went into providing a mobile platform for Savanna Lodge guests.

In my limited experience I've yet to see such a vehicle. If I ever do, I'll be looking for any way to click off a few discreet photos of it.

Really cool looking!

Tom K.

 

 

Toyota Land Cruiser is better.....

 

What is the saying....Land Rover will you get you there, but the Land Cruiser will get you home....

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attachicon.gifsavanna-land-rover.jpg

 

~ @Soukous:

 

That's one snazzy-looking vehicle!

Your photograph brings out the customized craftsmanship that went into providing a mobile platform for Savanna Lodge guests.

In my limited experience I've yet to see such a vehicle. If I ever do, I'll be looking for any way to click off a few discreet photos of it.

Really cool looking!

Tom K.

 

 

Toyota Land Cruiser is better.....

 

What is the saying....Land Rover will you get you there, but the Land Cruiser will get you home....

 

 

It's all down to proper maintenance. yes, Land Rovers need a bit more TLC than a Land Cruiser but they are a very fine vehicle for game driving. Great for all day low speed driving on rough terrain.

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It's all down to proper maintenance. yes, Land Rovers need a bit more TLC than a Land Cruiser but they are a very fine vehicle for game driving. Great for all day low speed driving on rough terrain.

 

~ @@Soukous

 

I've never ridden in either, although once in a while I've seen one pass by in Kenya.

They do look like fun for bumpety-bumpety driving.

Someday I may have the pleasure of riding in one.

Tom K.

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