I didn’t think anywhere could match Arathusa, our safari lodge of 3 years ago but Inyati managed to surpass it on several fronts.
(The access by car to the Lodge is pretty horrific, please see my separate posting about self-drive to Newington Gate).
We had the rooms furthest from the main building - 8/9 - shaded by trees overlooking the river, though not perhaps brilliant for game viewing as we didn’t have a clear view of the open areas where game tended to appear and the bush is quite thick there. In fact the game tends to be much further away from the Lodge than we expected, given the Sand River frontage. Game viewing from our own terrace at Arathusa was better.However, we did have some lovely Nyala grazing around the lawns outside our chalet and a leopard at night seems to regularly make its way through the open Lodge grounds. We also had a baboon trying the door handle the first morning – thankfully we’d heeded staff warnings and kept it locked at all times. Never saw it again thankfully, as it’s the only animal I just don’t like.
Food was generally excellent – decent homemade food, tasty and plenty of it. Maybe desserts were a bit stodgy and often the same but some nice baking/muffins etc. The Boma meals were buffet style and were excellent.
Game viewing with our Ranger Kimbini was just out of this world. Mating lions…hurtling after a hunting leopard on several occasions.....sitting feet away from a leopard on its kill…a roaming male leopard calling beside our vehicle at night for a female, which then appeared. We were within feet – touching distance almost - of the big predators every game drive. These guys know their ‘beat’ so well, they know where the animals are likely to be and of course a kill - and mating - can keep the big cats going for days. If it’s lion and leopard you want to see, this is the place.
Yes, there are a few other vehicles (from more expensive Lodges) but I think this is an advantage –they all share by radio ( no matter how much you’re paying) what’s happening and take turns to check out different sections of the huge area they all traverse to maximize sightings for us all. Otherwise it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack I suspect.
I just don’t know how you could go back to self-driving in Kruger and not be a bit frustrated at that experience. The fact you are in an open, super comfy vehicle and can fully see, smell and hear - and almost touch! - what’s happening and there are no walls between you and the wildlife, is all part of it instead of being locked inside a car. It makes photo opportunities incredible.
The bush in this part of Sabi Sand is very beautiful, more so than what we saw further north. Staff were all very friendly and the local dancing display they put on several times was just fantastic. It seemed so real somehow, as it was the local staff singing songs close to their hearts – I was moved to tears by it, the sounds were so evocative of Africa. Very special.
My only slight criticisms (apart from the drive in and that’s a big one!) is the way they divvy up the day, which wasn’t as good as we’d experienced before. There is quite a gap between brunch at 10.30am and dinner at 8pm (albeit tea/cakes mid-afternoon) but a small point really. I did think too that perhaps the game walks and other activities could have been promoted as being available more often. There was a sense that everything shut down activity –wise after brunch until the 3pm game drive. When we asked about a walk it happened I think the last day of our holiday, so only that one opportunity and I didn’t get the impression it was something that was offered often. At Arathusa every game drive in the morning was followed by an opportunity to go for a different walk in addition to the drive. Our walk was done instead of having the last hour of our drive when we were dropped off near the lodge and walked in. It was great but more limited than we’d had 3 years ago.
We’d go back in a minute to Inyati though….a few tears shed on leaving, it was just so good I wished we’d been able to stay the whole week instead of 4 nights. A world-class experience in terms of game viewing. Yes, it’s expensive but we’re only here on this earth once so I’d say….do it….save up… and you’ll never forget the experiences that money pays for.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Inyati Game Lodge is situated in one of the world's largest and most prestigious private conservation areas, the Sabi Sand Reserve , adjoining the renowned Kruger National Park. View Africa's most impressive wildlife on morning and afternoon/evening game drives in open 4-wheel drive safari vehicles with expert guides and Shangaan trackers. The perennial Sand River with its golden African sunshine and cool, shady hideaways runs through Inyati. At night, wildlife sounds fill the star-studded sky. Lions roar, jackals howl and hyenas laugh. African drums respond. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Inyati Game Hotel Inyati Private Game Reserve