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When we arrived at the lodge, we were greeted with a big smile from the staff and a much welcomed cold towel and drink. As soon as I walked into the lodge, I couldn’t believe how stunning and luxurious it was! It was very stylishly decorated with a rustic African look. Our bags were whisked away to our room, and we had a briefing about the lodge and safari experience by one of the staff.
Thankfully we had arrived just in time for lunch where we were treated to a delicious three-course meal and some Rosé to accompany it. Delicious!
We were staying in one of the nine suites, which are all set in a horseshoe bend on a dry Karoo ravine. After lunch, we were taken to our suite and ‘wow’ was my first impression as I entered.
It was beautifully decorated, luxurious and spacious and it had a stunning outdoor deck, which included an outdoor shower and Jacuzzi. Unfortunately, a dip in the Jacuzzi had to wait as we were soon off on our first game drive!
Just before we set off, we were greeted by Marco, who was our ranger for the duration of our stay. He explained what we could expect from our game drive and asked us what we were hoping to see and if we’d been on a safari previously.
We were sharing our game drive with people on their first safari, and we had done numerous before so we liked how Marco got to know our preferences and experiences so he could tailor the trip to us all.
It wasn’t long before we saw a big herd of muddy Elephants. Here we had the most incredible experience where they walked right past within touching distance of our vehicle. It was so special to these majestic animals to close to us.
After a short time, we stopped, and Marco said we could get out to do a short walking safari. Initially, I was a bit nervous about this, but as soon as we set off, I realised how exhilarating it was. We were also very fortunate to walk close to some Giraffe and Zebra.
As the afternoon drew on, it was time for my favourite part of the day on safari, sundowners! We stopped in a beautiful spot by a lake, and I got to enjoy a delicious glass of Sauvignon Blanc gazing at the sunset. You just can’t get better than an African sunset!
We continued our game drive into the fading light. I always find game drives in the dark exciting, but what I didn’t know was how exciting this one was about to get.
Marco had just found two White Lions! He was able to get very close to them, and we stopped as they walked right by us. I felt so privileged to see such a rare Lion in the wild!
After our incredible encounter, we returned to the lodge, where we were greeted with a drink to enjoy by the fire. The staff soon informed us that dinner was served and we were taken to a beautiful little candlelit Boma. There, we had a delicious three-course dinner, and I got to try Ostrich for the first time, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
We sat with some of the guests and got to enjoy some good conversation about what we’d experienced on our game drives.
After dinner, Marco invited us to the front of the Lodge to show us the stars. It turns out Marco is an experienced stargazer and we had the most amazing time with him looking at and learning about the most incredible number of stars I’ve ever seen.
The sky was just full of them, and it really was one of those extraordinary safari moments.
After this, it was time for bed as we had an early start the following morning. I had a very comfortable nights sleep, and before I knew it, we were given our morning welcome call. After a quick coffee and traditional South African rusk, we were off on our morning game drive!
Soon after the sun rose, Marco spotted a Cheetah on top of a hill and suggested we walk up to it! We are all a bit nervous about the thought of this but agreed to give it a go.
After a short but steep hike up the hill, we were up close to the Cheetah. It seemed so un-phased and relaxed about us being there and just lay there licking its paws. It was incredible to be so close to a Cheetah on foot, especially with that extra sense of vulnerability.
As we continued the game drive, we spotted Rhinos, more Elephants, Zebra, Buffalo, Giraffe and Impala. Marco also introduced us to Wildlife at a micro-level showing us spiders, birds and reptiles, which was very interesting but often overlooked.
We returned to the lodge and enjoyed a delicious breakfast, followed by a relaxing morning in our suite. Here I got to finally enjoy the Jacuzzi, which was wonderful!
After a few hours of relaxation, we indulged in a lovely lunch before setting off on our afternoon game drive. This was another enjoyable experience, where we spotted Hippos in a lake, while we were on foot, and we were once again fortunate enough to see the White Lions again (not on foot phew!). They really are incredible!
We returned to another fantastic dinner at the lodge, which this time was set in the lodge restaurant. After an Amarula nightcap, which I feel is a safari must, it was off to bed for another early night as we were departing the following morning.
Overall, I had a wonderful stay at the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve. The accommodation, staff and food were to a very high standard, and it certainly felt like a luxurious safari experience.
Having done safaris in other parts of South Africa, Sanbona gave me a different experience, as the vegetation and wildlife were quite different. Seeing wildlife on foot was incredible, and our ranger was exceptional. Thank you, Sanbona for a wonderful stay. I am sure we’ll be back, and maybe next time to one of the other lodges!