(*Shangaan for Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow)
Sabi Sabi was founded in 1979, at a time when South Africa was not yet on the world map from an ecotourism perspective. During this pioneering era, game drives took place in old bush-battered, converted army vehicles, nevertheless guests were enthralled and captivated first-hand by their wildlife experiences in this unique part of the world.
For almost four decades we have welcomed visitors from all over the world – drawn to this unique area by the promise of a safari adventure of a lifetime. As custodians of a diverse flora habitat which thrives alongside abundant animals, and an extraordinary variety of birds and insects which inhabit it, our mission is to serve as a model of how our rapidly dwindling natural resources can be conserved.
Our highly-trained field guides have, since the early days of the reserve, been introduced to an intensive programme before being allowed to take guests out on safari. The Sabi Sabi Ranger Training Course is almost like a ‘bush university’ which continues today, and is an industry recognised entry point for game rangers. At the heart of our safari team are the Shangaan trackers, with unparalleled intuition and incomparable knowledge of the bush, which stems from growing up in the area in which Sabi Sabi is located. Functioning as a team while out on safari, our field guides and trackers share their passion for Africa and endeavour to make every safari trip unforgettable.
Unfenced and adjacent to the greater Kruger National Park, this unspoiled part of the African continent make for one of the few places on earth to witness wildlife roaming around freely. Sabi Sabi has protected and respected this environment, therefore they are relaxed in the presence of the safari vehicles.
Much has changed, most noticeably our four lodges, since we first opened our doors over 37 years ago when rooms were basic, but comfortable, and the food served was wholesome but unsophisticated. Today we offer the very best in luxury on a global scale. We have regularly received top international awards and no detail has been overlooked in adhering to the highest ecotourism standards worldwide.
Within this vast and wildlife-rich land, Sabi Sabi has the perfect complement of design themes for our four ‘5-star lodges’ inspired by YESTERDAY (Selati Camp), TODAY (Bush Lodge and Little Bush Camp) and TOMORROW (Earth Lodge), each one boasting distinct character and atmosphere.
An air of time long past lingers in the exquisite camp, and is a tangible reminder of the grand steam train era. In the early Sabi Sabi days, there was no power connected to Selati Camp and this authentic ambience is today recreated by shunters’ lamps and lanterns gently illuminating the pitch black of the night.
Each of the suites, romantically named after antiquated railway sidings, is intimate and comfortable, with a dash of colonial opulence. Vintage décor and actual railway memorabilia have been beautifully infused with this 5-star jewel of the bushveld.
Armchairs around the sparkling pool or on the covered wooden viewing decks are a perfect place from which to watch game drinking at the nearby waterhole – one of the most spectacular on the reserve.
The Msuthlu River backdrop sets the scene for a safari lover’s dream, reminiscent of an era when life was a little slower and a lot more romantic.
The impression that you are about to embark upon an African expedition begins the moment you set foot in the reception area at Bush Lodge. This “luxury home in the bush” has earned a reputation of warmth, excellence and personalised attention. A recent fabulous revamp integrates the objet d’ art and artifacts collected from travelling adventures, inspired by the founders of Sabi Sabi, into the existing contemporary design. A deep-rooted love for Africa, its people, art and culture is visible as one wanders from one flowing space to the next.
Bush Lodge has been sensitively designed to allow ample room to relax, unwind and savour the tranquility of the bush. All 25 luxury suites – including the Mandleve Presidential Suite and ultra-luxurious two bedroom Villas – feature organic and classic furnishings.
At this family-friendly lodge, children of all ages are entertained at the fully-fledged children’s facility – the EleFun Centre. This enjoyable retreat offers environmentally themed activities in a supervised and safe setting, allowing parents much deserved time to relax.
LITTLE BUSH CAMP
Now celebrating its 11th year, Little Bush Camp takes its rightful place amongst the four iconic lodges of Sabi Sabi’s “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” as the transition between the traditional, but eclectic Bush Lodge and the contemporary, more classic Earth Lodge.
Gently glittering quartz floors, hues from a shimmering mantel clad entirely in copper 5 cent coins and scintillating earthy metallic tones altogether melt into the dramatic architecture of the central reception, lounge and dining areas.
The six private suites, with a secluded heated spa bath on each viewing deck overlooking the riverbed, have been fully refurbished and re-designed, drawing inspiration from chic and sophisticated African adornment.
Culinary delights are served in intimate spaces around the camp amidst exclusive new furniture, huge wire chandeliers and copper glass lamps.
Little Bush Camp – small, secluded and spectacularly refurbished to global sophistication – is the perfect hideaway.
Cleverly sculpted into the slope of the earth, merging seamlessly with the surrounding bushveld, makes Earth Lodge virtually invisible to the casual observer. Subtly blending in with the already magnificent design of metallic hues and earthy tones, a few more touches of ingenious decorative pieces were added as further enhancement to this architectural wonder.
Whilst enjoying the splendour of the lodge, guests can doze on white muslin-enclosed salas, or relax at stone-topped tables in the pool, cooling their feet in ankle-deep water, while enjoying refreshing cocktails and fine wine. Built close to one of the water features, is the alluring sunken fire-pit lounge, where guests can chat quietly around a blazing log fire and marvel at the canopy of stars overhead.
Restyled alcoves in the underground wine cellar house Sabi Sabi’s impressive collection of award winning wines and champagnes. Superb cuisine can be enjoyed either in the seclusion of the cavernous setting, gently lit by masses of candles, or at night beside a roaring fire in the outdoor boma. Collaborative efforts with international chefs have elevated our already excellent culinary customs at Earth Lodge, showcasing bold trends in fine dining.
There are only 13 suites at Earth Lodge, including the iconic Amber Presidential Suite, each individually decorated and impossibly luxurious, glowing with warmth from the masterful use of light and symmetry, hand-crafted furniture and organic fabrics. Eclectic outdoor furniture grouped to create special quiet spaces are a wonderful enhancement for the suites, whilst enjoying the seclusion of your private plunge pool.
Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve offers the very highest standards in international hosting – a long way from our humble beginnings. Close encounters of Africa’s wildlife, luxury accommodation, gourmet food, unparalleled warmth and service, and uniquely original aesthetics, make Sabi Sabi the ultimate bush experience.
This is the past, present and future of nature – this is Sabi Sabi.