It's hard to be critical about a place that really is so amazing but I think when you pay somewhere in the region of £1000 a night - you have earned the right to do so. My expectations were extremely high for Leopard Hills - I chose it for my honeymoon as THE lodge I wanted to stay at in Sabi Sands to see Leopard. We were given room 7, which is the honeymoon suite - best view of the water hole and highest position right next to the breakfast deck. The suite is incredible though much smaller than sister property Madikwe (we did the 4 night Leopard Hills, 4 night Madikwe Hills offer). Even so it is extremely well designed and perfect for a base when on safari. (Not sure the other suites have much of a view). Food was good, though two out of the four nights were in the Boma and my wife and I weren't convinced the food was cooked properly. We both had an upset stomach which could only have come from eating at Leopard Hills. The Boma meals are atmospheric in a way but the lack of light for cooking and the way the chefs cooked things to order while you waited - the food was hurried and clearly not cooked enough. In the restaurant the food was better, though three out of four nights tables were with your guide and the other guests. This is fine if the guests are sociable or interesting but quite an effort when this isn't the case OR when they're much older with different interests. It feels more like socialising at a work do. The ranger was also totally unenthusiastic when speaking and not even interested in other safari regions in Africa - which was surprising. Our last night on the deck of our room was the best in this respect. The complimentary wine was also of a disappointing standard - sure you can pay for something better, but again at this price you expect a £10 bottle at the least with dinner. That wasn't the case. Disappointing for a wine enthusiast.
We were also disappointed on a couple of the safaris - one outing we were in a jeep with 9 guests - which is totally unsatisfactory for this price tag. Another outing we were 8. It means someone has to sit in the middle on one of the rows and the view is far worse, not to mention uncomfortable for a 4 hour safari. For me 6 is the maximum and really you expect to be in a group of 4 or less for this price. The ranger also seemed to go through stages of lacking interest, going through the motions to pass the time - which was really strange. The first two days he didn't seem particularly interested, then some of the group changed and he was superb again - quite bizarre, but again not what you expect at this price tag. Sightings were good - we saw Leopard on 5 or 6 out of 8 outings. Once sleeping in a tree. Another time two cubs eating an Impala. Another day two were just strolling along the road - annoyingly the ranger stayed about 5 minutes and then called in other rangers - we were incredulous, that exactly what we had paid to see we had encountered, then given up so easily. I know rangers share what they find in order to benefit everyone, but after 5 minutes to leave two leopards out in the open?! The third and fourth days for some reason the same ranger kept his findings to himself far more - again strange. Leopard Hills also has a Wild Dog den on its property for the first time in 10 years - we saw the pack on 2 or 3 occasions - so you don't necessarily need to go to Madikwe for this experience either. Overall it is a fabulous place but don't let your expectations get too carried away. If you want to see Leopard, then Sabi Sands is THE place but perhaps the overall safari experience is better in Botswana - where less traffic and a more intimate experience is possible. Try Duba Plains for lion/buffalo interactions - a fabulous place. This is also not like East Africa - game is difficult to see and there are no vast herds. The chances of seeing Cheetah are also pretty remote. Anyway - so long as you know what to expect - it's a great option and despite minor niggles it's almost worth every penny!
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- Also Known As:
- Leopard Hills Hotel Leopard Hills Private Game Reserve