My wife and I stayed at EP early March 2013 for 4 nights and if I was to sum it up in one word it would be "amazing".
However that really does not do the Lodge justice. We were welcomed by a couple of the rangers fairly late in the afternoon and told that they had kept some lunch back for us as they weren't sure if we would have eaten or not, a really nice touch. We were shown to our room and had just enough time to grab a quick change of clothes before going out on our first game drive. Our Ranger was Louis with Fanuti his tracker and their knowledge and good humour was evident throughout. We saw all of the "Big 5" and much more, but not just saw them; we were so close we could almost touch them! Having done a trip to the main Kruger Park several years before, where we drove ourselves and did a couple of Ranger led drives from the Numbi Gate we expected this to be similar, it couldn't have been further from it. Being a private reserve the rangers take the vehicles off the tracks and follow the animals wherever the animals go. There are a few exceptions and it does get slightly frustrating when you get to an area that belongs to a Lodge that they don't have an agreement with and you have to stop but that only happened once in the 4 days we were there.
If you want to see wildlife up close and personal this is the way to do it. The highlights of our sightings were a leopard and her 8 month old cub feeding on an impala up a tree while a hungry hyena circled below, a cheetah and her 3 cubs playing and grooming on an airstrip, a herd of elephants including several calves and a huge white rhino. All of these were so close and completely at ease with the vehicles and acted just as if we weren't there, truly memorable experiences. Another really nice touch was the coffee and rusks in the morning and sundowners in the evening, the Ranger stops for 15 minutes or so in a clearing and you stand in the bush drinking your drink and either watching the bush wake up or the sun go down, very nice indeed. Finally the opportunity to go for a walk in the bush with a Ranger was great, this gave the chance to see some of the smaller creatures and a close up encounter with a herd of giraffe was great.
On to the lodge itself, we stayed in one of the Luxury Suites (Buffalo) and it was excellent. The room was huge with a king sized bed complete with mosquito net that was draped for you when the room was turned down for the night. A very comfortable sitting area, a writing desk and a very large bathroom with a shower that you could open a door to the outside and have your shower in the open air if you wished. We also had a huge deck/balcony overlooking a waterhole (with its own webcam at http://www.africam.com/wildlife/elephant_plains_webcam), the only thing to remember is to keep your door shut or the monkeys will wreak havoc! The food was excellent and special mention must go to the head chef Linda. While the choice isn’t huge, bear in mind they are only catering for a maximum number of 24 guests, the quality and variety was outstanding. Every other night dinner was a braai (barbecue) but done almost on a fine dining level, with several choice of meats and a great selection of accompaniments. This like normal dinner was served in the boma area around an open log fire and was finished off with toasted marshmallows over the fire if you wished. The waiting staff were also excellent, one lady, Lindy, asked our names on the first evening and never forgot for the rest of the week and was really nice and friendly. And that sums up all the staff; they really couldn’t do enough for you and made every effort to make the stay magical. This was even more commendable as while we were there the owners and the Manager were away and the remaining staff were holding the fort. They did themselves and the owners proud.
We stayed full board and that included everything except your drinks from the bar and laundry; the bar prices were very reasonable and we were pleasantly surprised by our bill on checkout.
Some people have commented on here about the lack of internet facilities, if you really need to keep up with the outside world it is available in the business suite but as a self-confessed internet junky I didn’t miss it one bit and to be perfectly honest with 5am starts and 10pm finishes after dinner there wasn’t any time to “log on” and check emails and it was nice to be able to switch off and relax for several days without it.
To finish, would we go back? Without hesitation. Would we recommend it? Most definitely. Is it good value for money? Exceptional.
Thank you Elephant Plains for one of the best holidays we have ever had.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Elephant Plains Game Lodge is situated in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, which forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park. This owner-run lodge caters for the discerning traveller, with a variety of accommodation options including 5 Rondavels, 6 Luxury Suites and a Honeymoon Suite. Activities include two daily game drives and a bush walk. The lodge also offers a spa, gym, conference facility / TV room, games room, small library and two swimming pools. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Elephant Plains Game Hotel Sabi Sand Game Reserve
- Elephant Plains Game Nelspruit
- Elephant Plains Game Lodge South Africa/Sabi Sand Game Reserve