I stayed over the weekend at Arathusa which was arranged as through a travel agent as a little pre-tour before I was actually joining a group at a different camp in the area. Arathusa is quite pricy; however that’s the case with all lodes in Sabie Sands. I was excited and curious as I have been a bit around Southern and Eastern Africa, but never in such a place in South Africa.
I was pleasantly surprised with the size of the chalet, especially the bathroom, not sure where I have seen such are large bathroom before with separate bathtub and shower plus outdoor shower. The idea of having the wardrobe and luggage rack in the spacious bathroom is quite nice.
The room had a minibar fridge, and all other usual amenities including a safe in the wardrobe. However, the instructions on the info card were wrong, so I had to call reception to open the safe manually for me. It’s also a nice touch to get that little bookmark with photo with the check-out note.
I used the laundry service, and prices were reasonable and service was fast and reliable.
The place is well laid out, although I find it strange that the luxury accommodation is a bit far off whereas the regular chalets have terraces facing the waterhole where you can watch various sorts of wildlife passing by. I would prefer that view over the luxury place.
The pool is also overlooking the waterhole and the adjacent lounge area offers WIFI internet. However, the signal was very poor most of the time.
The food was good, usually 3-course for lunch and dinner with a choice two mains. Nice touch to have the chef come out and announce the menu before each meal.
The main reason to come, of course, is the wildlife, and Sabie Sands is a prime area (if not the best area, hence the price tag) especially when it comes to leopards! I have never seen so many leopards on a daily basis, and so close and oblivious of the vehicles. At some occasions, my 400mm tele lens was even too much. Since I was travelling alone, I was put on the game drives with three other couples. The vehicles are roofless, completely open with 3 rows and a max. capacity of 10 passengers including 1 next to the driver. So luckily, we had a bit of space to move around when we were at the different animal sightings. This is particularly important as everyone wants to take home some good photographs. We were also lucky with our ranger & tracker team, both very familiar with the area and knowledgeable about the wildlife. Personally, I think it’s also a nice thing that the ranger is with his group during meals, that’s not the case in many other places I have been before.
The lodge offers two game drives per day and also bushwalk, the latter is at no extra cost which is nice compared to all places I have been in East Africa where bushwalks are extra charged. It’s also great how the lodge tries to really make it a lasting experience for its guests by organizing bush breakfasts or dinners. What a fantastic experience to have your dinner under the stars with flaming torches and a bonfire! The only comment I have is that these activities are done on a “surprise” basis. That means, instead of returning to the lodge at the end of the game drive, you are brought to the set up dining area in the bush. I would have preferred to know this beforehand to have my torch and a few other useful items with me.
The only other big negative I noticed was that I saw one other vehicle from this lode a few days later which was packed to the last seat with guests including next to the driver. For me, this makes the difference between a mediocre and upscale lodge. In my views a good place (also based on the price tag like Arathusa’s) should not allow more than 7 guests in a vehicle.
Overall, I had a great time, also thanks to the other really nice people I met in the group and the staff (Ryan in particular) at Arathusa.
- Also Known As:
- Arathusa Safari Hotel Sabi Sand Game Reserve
- Hotel Arathusa Safari
- Arathusa Safari Lodge South Africa/Sabi Sand Game Reserve