As other people have said, spending time in a game preserve is an exciting and special experience for a family and other than the expense -- not to be missed.
We visited Londolozi at Sabi Sands and Ngala Tented and thoroughly enjoyed both. There were subtle differences, and we are glad we had both experiences, but Ngala, though not inexpensive, was a better value -- and just as wonderful.
I found this a challenging trip to plan -- so here is what I learned:
1. Nothing beats a safari for a family vacation -- my well traveled teenagers have never been more excited about any trip. My husband and I were equally engrossed and charmed. My kids loved both places but preferred that Ngala is a much smaller camp with a community feeling -- it was common to eat together with the other guests at one long table, mostly other North American families. At Londolozi we liked that we ate with our tracker as well as ranger, two out of three evenings -- but we never mingled with the other guests at all.
2. The most important elements are not the decor or food -- at this level, I'm sure all the lodges are terrific -- but rather, the tracker and rangers, and the general esprit of the lodge (look for trip advisor reviews where people LOVED their ranger/tracker team -- you will be spending lots of time together and this is what you've come for -- keep in mind that you are trusting them with your family while finding and viewing lions and leopards, etc. close up,). Our ranger/tracker teams were absolutely terrific at both Ngala and Londolozi. We learned an enormous amount from them, and shared priceless experiences -- this is what we will remember.
3. The physical size of the private concession and the number of people staying there matters -- We loved Londolozi, but definitely preferred having fewer range rovers sharing the terrain, and really didn't like "standing by" while other jeeps watched the animals (typically only three jeeps at a time are allowed at an interesting animal sighting). While Sabi Sands is more famous for its rich animal life, we saw just as much at Timbervati, where Ngala is located, and felt more keenly in the wilderness because there were simply fewer landrovers sharing the space.
4. Ngala had a lovely infinity pool overlooking a dry river bed where game might be seen. This seemed more useful and appealing to us than, say, the individual plunge pools without much view at Londolozi (though the setting at Londolozi's lodge ,over a flowing river, was perhaps slightly more scenic).
5. African winter -- and our summer -- is the only time I would want to go, since I would not care to sit in the open landrovers looking at game during the rainy season (and off roading, the best part, is limited when it rains). The cool shorter days were perfect -- you get up later in the morning (6 am start instead of approx 5 am start), go back out earlier in the afternoon, and though the mornings are cold, hot water bottles and blankets are delightfully provided - and the afternoons are typically a dry 70's-80's -- warm enough to possibly sit by the pool and certainly to enjoy reading on your deck. Ngala had a wonderful , large collection of books about South Africa -- a nice touch. And -- importantly, there are few mosquitos (this is a malaria potential area; but the risk is much, much lower in winter)
6. The tents at Nygala are as luxurious as individual cabins elsewhere (and the plumbing is in ground and substantial), but have mesh screen windows instead of glass --so you hear the sounds outdoors. Lions and tigers do come through the camp at night, but with caution, the whole experience seemed safe and quite amazing (monkeys drink from the pool and wart hogs eat the grass).
7. Federal Air -- the charter company that flies to the airstrip, seemed organized, efficient and confidence inspiring -- flying over Kruger park was really part of the fun, even for a nervous flyer.
8. The food was good and far too plentiful. For true gourmet meals, I've been told that Singiita cannot be matched -- but this is a significantly more expensive option and honestly, we weren't there for michelin star meals. Our favorite meal was breakfast one morning on a wood fire in the bush. The chefs were visible, nice as could be, and trying their utmost to please.
Finally -- the entire camp was recently rebuilt after a major flood and the main lodge is gorgeous. The newest tents, 7-9 are definitely to be desired by most guests, I think -- they are built with views along the riverbed and are much more privately situated than the original tents, which circle a grassy area behind the swimming pool.
As many people have noted, the new white modern chairs on the private and lodge decks are attractive but not comfortable. They need cushions and a foot stool -- which should be an easy fix!!!
Unless you simply prefer being close, ask for tents 7-9.
See more room tips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.