My partner and I received an offer for a 4 night stay at Safari Lodge, Ulusaba Private Game Reserve. Our experience at Safari Lodge was really sensational, the staff were amazing; very friendly & always willing to go the extra mile to ensure you are happy and comfortable.
We arrived on a Thursday afternoon at the Ulusaba Airport where we were met by our Game Ranger, Johnny, and Tracker, Daniel. Both were very welcoming and explained the ‘rules of the rover’ as they drove us through to Safari Lodge. Safari Lodge is a little paradise in the bush, an absolutely beautiful piece of heaven surrounded by nature & wild animals. The interior decor of the lodge is exquisite, with comfortable couches spread all over, a very cozy indoor fireplace for those cold nights, and a great African homely atmosphere.
We were immediately welcomed by Kim, who shows us to our room, The Elephant Room. As we made our way via the wooden deck, we spotted Kudu & Impala at the watering hole across from the lodge. How fantastic that you can spot the animals while enjoying your breakfast or lunch! Our room is just divine, with everything that you could ever need, the bed is amazingly comfortable and you feel like you could just sink into the duvet! Once we were settled in, we went for a 10 minute walk to the bigger watering hole which can be accessed via swing bridges and leads you to a covered viewing platform where you can sit at the bar counter and spot animals coming down for a drink.
There are game drives scheduled every morning from 6:30 – 8am, and afternoon game drives from 15:30pm – 19:30pm. The game drives we went on were just phenomenal, you are practically guarenteed to spot a few animals in every game drive. The rangers are permitted to go offroad to get closer to the animals, which allows you to truly get up close and personal with the animals. The rangers all chat to each other via their radio to find out where the latest sightings are and also to coordinate which vehicle gets a chance to see the animal and in which order. It is first come-first seen as they don’t overcrowd the animal and are only permitted to have two vehicles at a time at any spotting. I found this to be really divine as I remember in Pilanesburg it just seemed too commercial, with between 10-20 vehicles all following one animal which means the animal is put under too much stress.
Our first game drive is a treat, spotting gorgeous lions, impala, and giraffe. I am so incredibly grateful right now for the opportunity to be here. I think as South Africans you can get so immune to the excitement of seeing these majestic animals, “oh, another lion picture”, but it is something else entirely to be here and be in the open land rovers surrounded by these wild animals who allow you into their space. There is something so incredibly breath-taking about being close enough to see a Lion breathing, watch him cleaning himself like your average domestic cat, and make eye contact with these wild animals who don’t seem to mind at all that there are a few people in a car less than 5 metres away from them. It is so important to treasure and protect these incredible animals for future generations to experience.
Back at the lodge we had time to refresh before drinks at the bar followed by dinner which was the most delicious 5 course meal I have ever had. The chef is really outstanding! Everyone in the lodge sits together at meal times which is really awesome and so different from what I have experienced before. We were all exchanging previous travel stories, animal sightings, and travel plans for the future ~ making incredible connections with strangers from all over the world, sharing this special moment in time.
Our room is warm & inviting, with our bed turned down and a heated blanket warming the bed for us! *such a treat* and we went to sleep listening to the sounds of lions no more than 50 metres from our room! There is a mosquito net around your bed so you don’t get bugged at night time (although there dont seem to be any mosquitos around this time of year). It was tough getting out of our bed for our first early morning game drive… but we were very excited to spot our first animals. It is fairly chilly in the mornings so they told us to wear warm clothes for the morning game drive. We piled the layers on, but a surprise awaited us in the rover! A hot water bottle & a blanket! I was very excited to see that hot water bottle! They also provide water for you, as well as tea, coffee, rusks & biscuits when you stop for a break on the morning game drives.
Our morning game drive is an experience, finding a female leopard sleeping under a tree where she had stored her kill, 3 Rhino, a magnificent herd of Buffalo, and a male leopard cleaning himself. After lunch we are taken to Rock Lodge for ‘high tea’. It is absolutely stunning with 360 degree views across the whole of the reserve. We all agree that Safari Lodge is better, despite the spectacular view, as you are right there in the bush, walking out your room to see Nyala next to the pathway and hearing lions roaring metres from your room.
Our morning & afternoon game drives continue to be out-of-this-world; spotting hyena, more giraffe, a herd of zebra, another leopard, warthog, hippos, turtles, elephant families, sleeping lions, fighting lions, and lions giving each other affection.
I highly recommend Ulusaba as a holiday destination for anyone wishing to be in nature and wanting to spot the big 5 or other wildlife & birds ❤