1. The Camp itself
Selati camp, which was the third of three(the other two being Little Bush and Bush Lodge) which we stayed at was, in my opinion, the nicest of the three. Situated deep in Sabi Sands, the lodge has accommodation of 8 lodges. Even the 'bare bones' rooms, at the low end of the scale, were simply fantastic.
The rooms are equipped with a heavy duty air conditioning unit(much appreciated), comfortable sized beds, bed netting, safe, mini-bar, bath tub, and both indoor and outdoor showers. I didn't use the outdoor shower since bugs at night are a bit of an issue, but the indoor showers were incredibly powerful and spacious. Easily among the top showering experiences I've had on my vast worldly travels. The rooms are also very big and lead right to the plains. Animals regularly came into the camp and it was awesome to be so close to nature.
The Camp itself housed a community pool(or separate pool if you decide to pay for the Ivory Presidential Suite), dining area overlooking a watering hole, indoor room for a bar/common area, fire-pit and 'special' dining area which was used to celebrate my sister's birthday while we were there.
The best thing was eating breakfast and lunch and seeing animals near the watering hole. Every day a new group of animals would pass by(lions on day 2!). The rush of excitement was tangible throughout our stay. You could tell people were really having a good time.
The food was also excellent, freshly cooked every day and adapted to meet any food restrictions or requirements. While Selati does not have a buffet style system(unlike Bush Lodge) service was timely and my cup was always full with more coffee or soda instantly. I'd like to thank our server Ephraim for going out of his way and actually learning some phrases in German(we are German) to greet my family in the morning! Little things like this really meant a lot to my family and me.
Special mention and thanks to Brett, the lodge manager of Selati, who was extremely accommodating and courteous throughout our entire stay. Every day he would pop around and ask us how we were, chat with us(he is a former ranger so knows the ins and outs of the business) and was quick with a joke. He really made the stay just that much better and helped feed the positive vibe of the entire lodge.
2. The Safari/Game Drives
(Note: To really get the best experience, I would recommend staying at Sabi Sabi for at least 5 days)
As the one writing this review, I have never been on Safari before and this was my first time in South Africa. I was floored. Every day you are taken on two safari trips; one in the morning(6-9) and one in the afternoon(1630-1930). There is no pre-set game plan, although I would highly suggest telling the rangers what you have not seen yet and if there has been a sighting earlier they will normally drive to that area first.
We encountered both amazingly hot weather and terrible rain(but only for 2 days) and despite this we always went driving and always got to see really cool things. The Range Rovers the Rangers use are quite beastly, although I never felt unsafe or nervous about driving anywhere. The jeeps act as a sort of camouflage and animals don't really pay much heed to you allowing you to get up RIGHT close. I was literally 5 feet from a fully grown male lion who was looking for a fight. The pictures you will get will make even your most stoic friend jealous.
During the afternoon safari, the last hour was done during the night which offered a chance to see the nocturnal animals emerge from their hiding spots. However at night is when the bugs came out to play so bug spray is highly recommended! (I wasn't bit once thanks to mine).
While luck does play a factor, the assortment of animals I saw in my 8 days was extremely wide. I knocked down the 'big 5' (Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Rhinos, and Buffalo) in the first 2 days and things just kept on getting better and better. Some of my highlights(I took over 5000 pictures) were:
- A lion fight near the end of our stay,
- A hearding pack of Wild Dogs on the hunt,
- Elephant pack surrounds our truck suddenly and silently to eat,
- Lion cubs and their mother with them crying,
- Leopard returns to its kill with its cub and drags the kill up a tree,
- Rhino fight between two males over female,
(and many, MANY, more)
We went on 14 drives all together and I can't think of one that I didn't see or encounter something new and fascinating. As a pretty mellow man, I was even completely shocked by how awe inspiring Sabi Sabi was. The fact that you can get so close and see so much is really second to none. Patience is key however, and you are often rewarded with following an animal for a good 40 minutes (such as the Leopard with her kill and the tree)
Walking tours(after breakfast) are also available on request and let you truly experience what it would be like to be among the animals walking around with predators at every turn. Again, highly recommend you go on at least one of these. Prepare to sweat though, as the cool breeze of the car movement isn't there!
Lastly, a huge thank you and above 5 star rating for our second ranger Francois who really should be praised as one of the best rangers in the entire Sabi Sabi establishment. His enthusiasm for his work, bridled with his friendly and happy-go-lucky spirit easily turned even a 'meh' drive into an 'omg' one. He regularly went way above the call of duty, and went where others had turned back. I learned so much from him(both on the road and during our walking tours). In our 3 days with him, we were often the first car out and last car in. He conducted himself extremely professionally but you could really tell how passionate he was about nature and the animals, and it was impossible not to let that kind of energy rub off on you. His should be the example set to new rangers to live up to.
While there were some hiccups along the way, not to mention the travel time to get to the actual camp is quite long from just about anywhere you would travel from, the actual experience once you are there is truly beyond incredible. I cannot thank the staff and rangers enough for just being an all around awesome group of people. I was sad to leave but am looking forward to returning sometime in the future! To anyone reading this and contemplating it, book your flights now!!!
- The Brammen Family
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Selati CampRomance, intimacy, luxury and 5-Star service epitomise Selati Camp. A late 1800’s railway theme with authentic memorabilia evokes images of a time when life moved more slowly, more gently. Eight beautiful suites feature handmade beds draped with mosquito nets, soft linens and antiques. En-suite bathrooms (recently refurbished) have indoor and outdoor showers. Excellent cuisine is enjoyed in the small farmhouse kitchen or intimate outdoor boma and viewing decks overlook a riverbed. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Selati Camp Hotel Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve
- Sabi Sabi Selati Camp South Africa/Sabi Sand Game Reserve