A big freestanding bath tub, a bottle of chilled champagne, scattered rose petals, hundreds of tiny tea light candles. This is the stuff honeymoon daydreams are made of. Except we’re not in the Maldives. Or Fiji, or Hawaii, or even Bora Bora. We’re in South Africa. That’s right, this is a safari honeymoon and at any moment the romantic love songs playlist the staff have thoughtfully put on might get interrupted by the roar of a lion or cackle of a hyena.
The Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve sits on the south-western edge of Kruger National Park, inside the 65,000 hectare Sabi Sand game reserve. Since the late 70’s it has been redefining the definition of safari – we’re talking about next level luxury. Think candlelit degustation dinners, three course lunches, cookies and milk on your pillow at turn down. And that’s before you even get to the twice daily, world class safari drives.
Sabi Sabi is roughly 450km south of Johannesburg. It’s a five-hour drive along well maintained roads, or a half hour private plane journey to the Sabi Sand air strip. Consider spending a night in Johannesburg at the start of your trip, so you can get on the time zone, recover from your flight and be ready to hit the safari jeep bright and early. 54 on Bath is a beautiful boutique hotel in the super swish suburb of Rosebank that has its own Veuve Clicquot rooftop bar and croquet lawn, and is close to famous restaurants like The Grillhouse.
Like most luxury reserves, Sabi Sabi has several different lodges for its guests to choose from – there’s Selati Camp, Bush Lodge, Little Bush Camp and Earth Lodge. Honeymooners should book straight into Earth Lodge, the crème de la crème of safari lodges world-wide.
This award-winning lodge is OTT luxury – we’re not talking gilded furniture and chandeliers dripping in crystal. Designed to blend into its surroundings, Earth Lodge is a study in polished concrete, carved wood and rammed earth.
The common bars, lounges and restaurants are open air, looking straight out at the bush land so that you’re surrounded by nature. There are four poster day beds strung with gossamer drapes in the common lounge area where dining tables are set in a shallow pool so you can cool your feet off while enjoying your lunch during the height of the day’s heat. Every afternoon a smorgasbord of freshly made pastries, cakes, energy balls, cookies and sandwiches appears so you’re ready to go for the afternoon drive.
Food is included in your stay, and trust me, you will never ever go hungry. From early coffee and treats before the first drive of the day, to sundowner G&T’s and biltong out on your afternoon game drive, Sabi Sabi thinks of everything.
Earth Lodge is quiet and intimate. Strategically placed suites have their own plunge pools, outdoor showers, gardens, giant bath tubs and enormous beds. You’re surrounded by high walls and hillsides, providing so much privacy you’ll forget there are others staying on site until you head over to the lodge for meals and drives.
And then there’s the actual safari experience – head out into the reserve to watch elephants eating from trees just metres from the jeep, slowly track lions stalking their prey, spot the baby hippos wallowing around in the mud, lose count of giant herds of buffalo and be mesmerized by the graceful giraffes stripping leaves from branches with their long tongues.
After a few hours out on the jeep, Sabi Sabi welcomes you back with warm cups of hot chocolate in the morning and icy cold fruit drinks in the afternoon. Evenings are spent with good bottles of South African red wine and perfectly cooked South African steak.
Even if you skip dessert, expect to find freshly baked goodies in your room each night. A midnight snack, a long soak in your enormous bath tub, or a dip in the plunge pool under the stars – this really is the stuff honeymoon dreams are made of.
All images via Lisa Perkovic at Expedia Australia
Ms Chinoiserie Says: So stunning! The ultimate luxury safari – and the ultimate honeymoon destination!
About Lisa Perkovic: I am the Expedia Australia blog editor and have spent the past decade getting out there, discovering the world and sharing my experiences. I make sure Expedia’s blog is always stocked with the best and most up to date travel stories, tips and news from our team of travel experts!