We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“We'll never forget our wonderful experience at Lion Sands”

Best prices for -
Check In mm/dd/yyyy Check Out mm/dd/yyyy
Prices are for 1 room, 2 adults
Show Prices
Compare best prices from top travel sites
and 2 more sites!
Lion Sands River Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed December 18, 2011

My wife and I had an amazing time at Lion Sands. We saw a lot of animals--many of them up close. If you're going as part of a couple, be sure to book the Chalkely Treehouse for one night. It's incredible.

  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank slim_dusty
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review
Reviews (786)
Traveler rating
Traveler type
Time of year
Language

588 - 594 of 786 reviews

Reviewed December 11, 2011

My husband and I stayed at the Lion Sands River Lodge during our honeymoon in South Africa, and our stay there far exceeded all our expectations. The lodge was beautiful and luxurious, the service was impeccable, and the food was amazing. Our butler Rodnick went out of his way to make sure we were well taken care of, as did all the other staff. The game viewing was great, we repeatedly saw the big 5 and other wild life and had the good fortune to have an outstanding tracker and ranger. Our ranger, Kenneth, was a living encyclopedia, full of knowledge of all the animals, plants and geography. It was the expereince of a life time, and I would very highly recommend this place!

  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank Debi B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 9, 2011

This will be an unforgettable experience for all ages. The staff,the guides, the rooms, the chefs, and the food we're excellent. We saw the bIg five in three days and were so close to the animals sometimes it was scary, but safe. To have white linen on the tables, out in the bush was pretty awesome. Upon every arrival you get a fresh wash rag to cleanse your hands. Then you walk into a beautiful lodge. I would definitely visit here again. Sooo many animals too!!

Room Tip: Just wish the workout room was a little nicer
See more room tips
  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank cindyalex27
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 9, 2011

My husband and I recently returned from a long weekend away to celebrate our anniversary at Lion Sands Private Game Reserve. There are a number of superb game lodges in the area, some of which we have visited, so the competition is tough. With this in mind we were somewhat surprised by the lack of service and lack of apparent training of a lot of the staff at the lodge.

This became apparent when our transfer from OR Tambo to Skukuza clearly hadn't been arranged, despite the fact that my husband had confirmed all of the arrangements the day before our departure. After many phone calls and confusion on their part, we eventually managed to make our way to the FedAir kiosk on the other side of the airport and get our transfer to Skukuza where we were met by a driver in a Landy.

Upon arrival at the lodge, we settled in to our Luxury Room, had lunch on the deck which is an awesome game viewing spot and met with our game ranger and tracker before heading off on our evening game drive. It was unfortunate that our game ranger, who shall remain nameless at this point, wasn't very amiable, was rather abrupt and on occasion developed a a distinct attitude problem. As an avid photographer I wasn't always afforded the best angle for the photographs. It didn't help that the ranger had no appreciation or understanding of photography, but it was a little frustration when he would suddenly move the vehicle just as I was about to take a shot.Thankfully our tracker (Juice) made up for the our ranger's shortfalls.

At the lodge itself, most staff were friendly, but lacked the training one would expect from a private game lodge of this calibre. Nonetheless it didn't dampen our spirits and our butler Jabulani more than made up for it with his friendly attitude, great hospitality and can do attitude. Nothing was ever a problem for Jabulani!

The visit to the spa wasn't great at all.

In short, is it the best game lodge we've been to? No, but the game viewing we had was really good ... but again not the best. Would we return? Yes, but next time to Ivory Lodge, as this seems to be the more exclusive option at Lion Sands and may be a somewhat different experience.

Room Tip: The Superior Luxury room may be the better option as they look a lot roomier and also include an out...
See more room tips
  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
5  Thank RoadTrippinCape
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 28, 2011

We had experienced three different lodges in Botswana and also South Africa before staying at the Lion Sands River Lodge. We prefer a more rustic setting but it is difficult to downgrade a place with your own "butler" at all meals, large well appointed room, good food, small spa, Internet and nice setting. However forty rooms are too many and there are too many guests, even though there are several nice public areas. Our guide and animal viewing were both mediocre until a travel agent joined us in our land rover. Then we did have two good drives. We stayed three nights which should always be the minimum stay. We prefer a lodge with twelve rooms or less. We enjoy a more intimate setting. This lodge is fine for honeymooners and special occasions but should never be one's only safari lodge.

Room Tip: On the left of the main lodge and as far away as possible. We had a superior room with outdoor showe...
See more room tips
  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank calamity66
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 22, 2011

As regular travellers to the Sabi Sands my partner and I are extremely particular when it comes to choosing a lodge and we do have high expectations.

I do have to mention one GREAT BIG DIRTY PROBLEM that dismayed me more than I would have liked it to. Let me first discuss this issue before moving onto the Lodge experience.

One month before arriving at Lion Sands I sent an email to the one on their website with a few requests (these included a specific room, a bush dining experience and the fact that we were more interested in birds than chasing lions around). I received a reply from the head office that ensured me that my email had been sent to the lodge team and that my requests would be considered. Upon arrival at the lodge it was obvious that for whatever reason the lodge team had not received my request email and as a result not one single one of my requests had been planned for. My email also included guest information (names and who was with who). As a result all the welcoming "surprises" the team does to welcome guests were rather amusing in a NOT SO GOOD way.

Janine (the lodge manager) asked me to forward the request email to her and to her credit she bent over backwards to make amends for the communication breakdown between head office and the lodge. Unfortunately the room we wanted had already been allocated and occupied and so we had to make the best of the suite we received.

Location: Perfectly located on the Sabi River surrounded by some spectacular old trees in a prime game viewing spot within the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve.

Suites/Rooms: This is one of the larger lodges that I have stayed at with at least 20 rooms. The lodge was reasonably full during our stay which did result in a little too much activity for my liking during meal times. We had booked 2 rooms (one standard and one superior) and they were both extremely luxurious and well appointed. The inside is well furnished and decorated to a pleasingly high standard. The superior room had an outside shower and is slightly larger with some additional touches that differentiates it from the standard room. The rooms all face the river and yet do not all have a river view.

Cuisine: Mostly phenomenal and one or two mishaps. Superb Nyala and Eland loin. Some issues on the seasoning for the soups and lemongrass calamari dishes.

Service: Janine really went out of her way to make our trip memorable and the lodge owners may be rest assured that she is doing her job beyond expectation. Our butler Israel also ensured the high quality service flowed easily and was genuinely warm and friendly. Housekeeping was top notch and the team all worked well together.

Guide and Tracker: Paul and Kruger were knowledgeable and were able to show us all of the "big" guns as well as ensure we got our birding fix.

Cons: Rooms too close together for my liking. Some rooms not exactly private and are overlooked if other guests are on the River Deck or at the Pool. Too many rooms (20) means it was also a bit busy for my liking.

Pros: The amazing old trees in the camp (Jackalberry, Wild Mango, River Elder, Sycamore Fig, Tamboti, Natal Mahogany, Knob Thorn, Lead Wood, and many more)!!! Sabi River Location, Room Interior, Lodge Team, River Deck. WiFi and good food.

We had a simply marvellous time and definitely recommend Lion Sands River Lodge to all those looking for a top notch safari experience.

Will we stay there again? Probably not as we are visiting a different lodge each time we visit the Sabi Sands and have still got a LOT of lodges to get through.

Room Tip: Ask for a superior room with a river view (21, 22).
See more room tips
  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
6  Thank mlondozi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 19, 2011

I travelled end of Aug beginning of Sept for 5 days. Defintiely should have stayed a couple days more. There were 7 of us family and friends. I being the travel agent spent many hours researching but due to circumstances we could only commit a couple weeks before departure and the reservation process was seamless.

Greetings each day in and out of the lodge were also warm and welcoming amiles, with towels, drinks and monkeys.

ROOMS
The rooms are beautiful and have wonderful views out toward the river bed. Our large bathroom had a bathtub with a double door opening to the wild outside...such romantic ambience though so busy barely time to enjoy it. Also had a large shower with upgraded toiletries. I was sharing a room with 2 others and the sofa bed was very comfortable. They had mosquito nets over the twin beds but I never noticed mosquitoes at all. Plenty of closet space and the safe fit my net book. Large cabinet and refrigerator We were greeted with welcome flowers spelling our names on our beds and all facilities were serviced and kept clean with a smile. They did provide current adaptor in each room but I suggest you still bring your own. With cameras, laptops and cell phones needing charging you need to have more than one plug-in.

DINING
Our butler Daniel was outstanding. One of our group had special dietary requirements and I had him discuss his needs with the chef directly. Every meal he was presented with a surprise meal that he said was not only picturesque but delicious. The rest of us indulged trying everything imaginable. I bought a beautiful wooden box before lunch at the curio shop made of kudu horn and guess what was served for lunch...kudu. Excellent. Not at all gamey. Outdoor dining overlooking the Sabie River and If it cooled down for the evening meal lap blankets were provided. No mosquitoes. None of us found fault with the wine offered and Daniel made sure our glasses were never half full!
The boma experience with the African dancing and singing was magical. Loved the boma enclosure, open fire and lanterns right from "Out of Africa". At all meal times there was lots of variety with something to suit everyone.

SAFARI
6AM wonderful tea and coffee and muffins set up for all guests by everyone's butlers in the indoor dining area.
630am met by our game ranger Sydney and tracker - Patrick and escorted to our Lion Sands open air range rover with tiered seats so everyone has an excellent view over heads. We had our own vehicle for the 7 of us so each person had a side and room in the middle to slide back and forth for better viewing. We were told there are 7 vehicles and at any one time we may cross paths or share a viewing site [very infrequently} with another vehicle. And let's not leave out the lap blankets and old fashioned hot water bottles that greeted us. Thick rain ponchos for the time it rained for 15 minutes. Field Binoculars were also carried by Sydney that we shared though rarely needed them as we got up so close.

We were like mad paparazzi and Sydney would not only get us off road within spitting distance of the wild beasts he would position the vehicle perfectly and change the vehicle around so we all were able to get fantastic pictures. Most times he would shut the vehicle off and we would sit for easily a half hour watching lions eat an antelope one time, eating a water buffalo another time their cubs playing. Saw 5 different leopards during our stay including a leopard and her cub frolicking while her kill laid above in the tree. At one point Sydney had to move the vehicle out of the way as a huge elephant decided to knock the tree down in front of us to get to the jackleberries.
Giving us time to sit and watch the animals in their element we were able to see how they interact and their personalities. Very important not to rush from one sighting to another. And having the experience of being able to go off road through the thickets was invaluable for sightings. Though Kruger is very famous you are not allowed to go off road there and a sighting will bring several vehicles at once to the spot. Lion Sands is adjacent to Kruger and is unfenced and the animals roam freely back and forth but very little safari vehicle interaction.
Frank the gatekeeper, a retired lodge employee greets you in and out the reserve gate with a flute and a dance each time. We surprised him once by all getting out and dancing with him!
End of August beginning of Sept excellent time for game viewing. Spring time there not hot and dusty, and with few trees having leaves very good for sightings and viewing birds. Lots of juvenile animals around too. Cute.
930AM back at the lodge for breakfast. Buffet set up with fresh eggs.. Porridge, fruits and yogurt.
11AM Game walk with Sydney and Patrick along the Sabi River. So much information and knowledge they shared. Good spotting of hippos.
1230PM back for a leisurely scrumptious lunch and time to rest or sit by the pool.
430PM back on the game truck for the evening game drive. Elephants, water buffalo, rhino, giraffe, zebra everything but rabbits! Sunset and moon over Africa add to the ambiance of the Sundowner Spread of drinks and bites at our favorite tamboti tree every night.
630PM Though we were often late back for dinner time. Cocktails before and after in the bar. With the leisurely under the stars dining there was not much time to actually make good use of the bar and fireplace. Everyone is exhausted from the excitement of the day.

OVERALL PUBLIC SPACES
Get up and do it all over again the next day and one minute exciting as the next. The team that pulls off the entire lodge experience is all about luxury, service and smiles. Luxurious outdoor living room area. Lovely library with computer and free internet I had to make use of several times for work. Who works on safari in the jungle you ask? But I did and had no issues.
In the evenings you have an escort to walk you back and forth from your rooms to the main reception area. So not to fear the jungle around you.

As a travel consultant they allowed me to do a site inspection of Ivory Sands and the chalets are fantastic and luxurious but most definitely a more secluded type of experience.

The lodge sponsors a couple of community outreach programs and we brought lots of pens and crayons plus gave a nice donation. You can have a village visit but we ran out of time.

We were also thankful that tipping for the entire team and ranger and tracker could be authorized by credit card. They really deserve every penny for their gracious efforts to leave you with outstanding memories. It enabled us all to be more generous.

I can only end with a big thank you to the entire Lion Sands River Lodge team and the wild beasts that made our trip AMAZING, AWESOME AND ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS.
5 star resort with 10 star staff and a show of hundreds of animals. SHOWSTOPPER!

  • Stayed: August 2011, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank Linda K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hotels you might also like...
Also consider these accommodations in or near Sabi Sand Game Reserve
3.3 mi away
Lion Sands - Tinga Lodge
Lion Sands - Tinga Lodge
#2 of 13 in Kruger National Park
400 reviews
3.1 mi away
Protea Hotel by Marriott Kruger Gate
16.5 mi away
Inyati Game Lodge, Sabi Sand Reserve
Inyati Game Lodge, Sabi Sand Res...
#1 of 1 in Inyati Private Game Reserve
431 reviews
Show Prices
Show Prices
Show Prices
3.6 mi away
Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge
Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge
#10 of 42 in Sabi Sand Game Reserve
508 reviews
12.3 mi away
Londolozi Private Game Reserve
Londolozi Private Game Reserve
#3 of 42 in Sabi Sand Game Reserve
454 reviews
16.2 mi away
Elephant Plains Game Lodge
Elephant Plains Game Lodge
#16 of 42 in Sabi Sand Game Reserve
862 reviews
Show Prices
Show Prices
Show Prices

Been to Lion Sands River Lodge? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Additional Information about Lion Sands River Lodge

Address: Sabi Sand Game Reserve | (Shaw's Gate Entrance), Kruger National Park 1240, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #12 of 42 Specialty Lodging in Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Price Range: $1,467 - $3,586 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Lion Sands River Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 20
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Family owned since 1933, this international award winning private game reserve spans across the world famous Sabi Sand Game Reserve and Kruger National Park. Lion Sands has four lodges; Lion Sands Ivory Lodge & Lion Sands River Lodge (Sabi Sand) and Lion Sands Tinga Lodge & Lion Sands Narina Lodge (Kruger Park). Each has a unique style, but is a reflection of Lion Sands' five-star signature of sophisticated interiors, unique experiences and service excellence. ... more   less 
Reservation Options:
TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Cancelon, TripOnline SA, Hotwire and Evoline ltd so you can book your Lion Sands River Lodge reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
Also Known As:
Lion Sands River Hotel Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Lion Sands River Lodge South Africa/Sabi Sand Game Reserve

Is This Your TripAdvisor Listing?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing