First off, SRBL is not in a private game reserve lodge (very pricey and typically "all-inclusive") nor the Sanparks-run accommodation within the Kruger National Park (cheap and self-catering but you have to book MONTHS in advance). Instead, SRBL is a perfect in-between option just 19km outside the KNP. The best thing about SRBL is that you have options, you can choose to self-drive to KNP (which we did) or go on their guided game drives (for extra cost), self-cater or go on half board (b/f+dinner). We initially chose SRBL as we were too late to book the sanparks accommodation and what a happy "mistake" it turned out to be. For those that love longgggg reviews (like me!)... read on.
Along the road that leads to the Paul Kruger gate from the small town of Hazyview. Nothing much in the vicinity of the lodge, the nearest restaurants/shops/supermarket are at Hazyview. Although there are many accommodation options in Hazyview, SRBL is one of the closest to the Paul kruger gate (other than protea, just outside the gate, and Kruger gate guest house, about 10km from the gate). Protea or KGGH don't have tented accommodation though! An additional benefit is SRBL's location along the Sabie river, which gives you a semi-bush living experience (despite the proximity to the main road). Paul Kruger gate is ideal for covering the Southern part of KNP (best for seeing all Big 5 in a short time hence the most crowded), we managed to cover the main routes over 2 days.
Game drives vs. Self drive:
As we planned to stay at a private game reserve in the Klaserie after our stay in SRBL, we did not go on their guided game drives on their cool 4WD (from c.R450/pax per drive depending on the timing). Instead, we drove ourselves in our little rental Nissan Micra (2WD is no problem even on the unsealed roads). Park fee is R204/pax per day for foreigners, just pay at the Paul Kruger gate. We didn't buy any maps, just screenshot the sanparks website's map. Even though it was our first time on safari, we spotted the Big 5 by ourselves over 2 days, with very lucky close-ups (the animals in KNP seem totally unfazed by the vehicles and can come close to or even onto the roads!). Of course it is not very "safari-like" to be sitting in a normal 2WD sedan, but this is the only downside and the cheapest way of seeing the Big5. Plus you can enjoy the air-condition and wear flip flops :P
We booked the ensuite luxury river frontage bush tents (there are only 2 with ensuite!! Tents 4 and 5) that are on half-board basis. Tents 1-3 are cheaper as they are not ensuite, but have kitchen and BBQ facilities, and the price is on self-catering basis as clearly stated in the website. Our tent was spacious, with semi-private deck (shared with the other ensuite luxury tent) and deck chairs where you can watch the birds and animals wander by. Ensuite bathroom was great, with his and hers washbasins and a small but modern shower stall. Note that the 2 ensuite tents are closest to the river and furthest from the restaurant/common area, lots of privacy BUT you cannot get in-room wifi :(
the non-ensuite tents and ensuite rooms are clustered around the restaurant so you can get in-room wifi. Do note that the tents (being tents) are not soundproof so you can hear vehicles passing on the road, although road traffic is minimal after nightfall. This didn't bother us at all but if you are a light sleeper you might prefer a room instead of a tent.
Smallish pool that would be great for summertime. Wifi was centred around the reception/restaurant and quite slow/spotty at times, but as it is free I have no complaints. Secure parking inside the lodge compound and the staff even wash your cars every morning so you can take nice pictures through your shiny clean car windows.
Food - Awesome! :
Breakfast: Simple buffet of cereal, fruit, breads (try the home made scones!), yoghurt, as well as a cooked breakfast (choice of bacon/sausage/eggs/tomato/mushrooms or ALL of them).
Lunch: not included in half-board as you would typically spend the entire day inside KNP (we ate at the rest camps, recommend Lower Sabie rest camp for your lunch stop, very crowded but awesome sightings just by the river, you can typically see 2-3 of the Big5 just by stopping here).
Dinner: 3 courses ! a choice of soup/salad to start, meat/fish for mains and fabulous sinful desserts. It's not fancy epicurean stuff ( no foam and garnishes and jellies of course!!) but well-executed and homey.
Hope this longgggg review is helpful for those planning a trip to KNP, all the different types of accommodation in and around the Kruger can be really quite confusing to a first-timer! As it was our first safari we tried both methods (self-drive from SRBL and later a private game reserve with guided drives, both were great experiences).
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.