With the words “location, location, location” Sir Richard Branson’s Ulusaba Rock Lodge has got it all. Wonderful and friendly staff, amazing views of the bushveld, exceptional food and wine, accommodation second to none and wildlife in abundance. The experience is extraordinary unique, from the moment you arrive, to be met with a glass of champagne at the reception, until you leave with a tear in your eye. But I’m running ahead of myself now.
This was a special birthday/anniversary trip for my wife and we stayed for four nights, our first time at Ulusaba, but not the first for Sabi Sands and the Kruger. Ulusaba's facilities and staff are superb; everything is done with calm professionalism and quiet confidence.
We were met at the Reception by Phillip our Ranger and taken to the Rock Lodge perched high on a koppie, as you drive up the road you get the start of an amazing view over the bushveld, which just gets better as you get higher up to the lodge. We were met by Richard the lodge manger and given a full tour of the facilities available, along with more outstanding views. The hospitality from all the staff was really great, going out of their way to make you feel at home and part of an extended family. Richard was an amazing host, and his staff backed him up 100% in all departments.
Our accommodation was excellent; we stayed in The Master Suite and were thrilled with it. Luxurious, clean and spacious split on 3 levels. First the superb bathroom, followed by the second level bedroom and its plunge pool outside. The lower level is an elegantly decorated sitting room with a balcony. The balcony gave us an easterly view over the bush, adjoining koppies and the dam below, we were already crossing off wildlife sightings as we unpacked. We saw 3 of the Big 5 from here and on the last morning a pair of mating Lions just below us.
Food was of a high standard with a good choice at all meals. Breakfast after the morning drive is just right, as we still had lunch, tea snacks and evening meal to come. The evening meal is perhaps the culmination of culinary skill, an a la carte experience not to be missed. The chef personally explaining her menu choices for the night, how they were prepared and included some amazing variations. The wine choices also complement the food and are normally chosen by Richard. If you are not a wine drinker, then there is a bar that covers the remainder from beer and spirits to some outstanding cocktails and champagne. All food and drink is included and after our first meal at Ulusaba we understood why the well equipped gym is close by.
The pinnacle of our stay was of course the game viewing and this was exceptional. The big five in abundance, as well Hyena, Giraffe, Hippo, Zebra and the numerous buck species, that appear out of the bush. My wife’s favorite is leopard, which on our last safari in the Sabi Sands we missed, on mentioning this to Richard on arrival, he was quick to assure us that at Ulusaba we would see one every day. To his credit Phillip our Ranger backed him up, and we did. In fact on our first drive, the very first sighting was a female leopard (Mitzi) hunting Impala near the airstrip. (could it get any better)? Well it did – Following lions as they hunted buffalo at night, 3 pairs of mating lions, rare black rhino, the young bull elephant with his mock charges to his ultimate threat, two white rhino mesmerized for over 10 minutes 50cm from the front of our land rover and the leopard with a kill in a tree.
However the ultimate sighting had to be the mating leopards in a tree with their kill, along with four hungry lions below them looking up longingly for the scraps that fell.
Thanks to Phillip and Kaizer for a truly amazing four days of game viewing, with so many “firsts”, even after +20yrs of visiting game reserves. Also the game walk and the close encounter with those old dagga boys at the foot of Rock Lodge, truly exciting, but never in danger thanks to your skills.
A must do is the visit to the telescope on a clear African night, lions roaring not too far away, for a truly out of this world experience. Again Phillip excelled with his knowledge of the planets, stars and galaxies above.
The highlight of our stay, even with all the amazing firsts in the game viewing had to be the very special last night, Richard and his team laid on for us. Dinner for two on a balcony overlooking the bush, with the moon rising and a delicious chocolate birthday cake for my wife (it was as if by magic you knew it was her favorite). Many thanks Kathryn and Richard .
I do however have a small complaint to make, Richard you and your staff at Ulusaba have spoilt any other safari trips for us, having set the bar so high. All other trips in the future are going to find it difficult to match up against those outstanding 4 days at Ulusaba. I suppose the next trip will have to be the Safari Lodge.
We will definitely be coming back.
To those of you who are thinking about a Safari trip of a lifetime, look no further!!!!!!!!!!!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- With panoramic views overlooking the miles of African bush, there are 8 rooms at Rock Lodge, including the Master Suite, Makwela Suites, Rock Cliff rooms and the two bedroom Rock Suite, some of which have private plunge pools. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Ulusaba Rock Hotel Ulusaba Private Game Reserve