For years I'd wanted to do a safari and had done endless research on countries, regions and bases and Ulusaba topped all I could wish for. The staff make every visitor welcome, and nothing is too much trouble. As an all inclusive resort you hope for quality and Ulusaba delivers big time. From the second you are collected at the airport by your cheery faced tracker to the moment you leave, delivered back to the airport you feel totally at one and part of the team.
Having spent a week in Cape Town we flew to Jo'burg for a connection on a Fed Air flight. They were very helpful and the their little lounge is small and relaxed. The flight to Ulusaba had me and other passengers straining to see any sign of wildlife on the short flight. Upon landing at UlusabA we were greeted to a glass or two of champagne and an introduction to our Tracker, in our case David. We were then taken by one of the open Land Rovers to the lodge itself. We were met by Kim the Lodge manager, who outlined the daily running and process, all with a big smiley face, a feature of all staff. We'd hired a river room which was reached by connecting walkways including the swinging platforms so beloved of I'm a Celebrity.
Our room was spotless, with bags of space, a massive bed, deep bath and walk in shower. We also had a fridge that magically refreshed itself with wines and peanuts etc.
The daily pattern was 5.00 am tel call and quick up and about for a hot beverage and muffin in the mail lodge where you hooked up with your Ranger, we had Phil, a very amiable and knowledgeable guide. We were on the road by 6.00 am latest and would head out on the dusty roads to look for game. On our first morning drive we saw up close and personal 4 of the big 5 being Lion, Leopard, Elephant and Rhino. About 9.15 we'd stop in a safe spot for a cuppa and than back on the road ending up at the lodge by about 10.30 am fro breakfast. Full English fry up if you wished and cooked how you liked it. Whilst sitting on the dining platform overlooking a small dried river bed you'd often spot kudu, nyala, babaoon etc. After breakfast we'd retire to our lodge to chill out, sit on the porch and read or just watch the kingfishers and other birds drift by. Lunch is set at 13.00 to 15.00 but sometimes we'd load up on breakfast to give us more self time. The walkways connecting the rooms also took you to a viewing platform overlooking a small reservoir replete with hippos and crocs, kingfishers etc and you could while away a few hours just observing. We'd meet back in the main lodge for 16.00 before heading out on the afternoon drive. It got dark about 18.00 and then strong torches would be used to locate nocturnal animals, including lions. Whilst out we would stop for a sun downer, a gin and tonic in the setting African sun is something special.
We'd be back at the lodge by 20.00 and time for a rapid shower, and a swift change for dinner. I can't over emphasise that some people changed for dinner, some didn't, it was left to what you felt comfortable in. The dinners were group affairs with most people starting at the bar with the days safari stories, before the head chef would come out and tell all the guests the evening menu with some witty asides, then Robin, the wine connoisseur would describe the background to the evenings wines, but again, you could choose what you wanted.
After everyone had eaten smaller groups tended to occur as everyone chatted amiably over a tipple of their favourite. Not many stayed late or drank too much as the swaying walkways and early alarm call were a solid deterrent.
Unlike the public reserves the game here tended to be quality not quantity but even so we witnessed herds of elephant and buffalo on separate occasions. We saw leopards copulating, cheetahs stalking impala, lions assaulting buffalo and also a pride war as two separate sets of male lions were determining dominance via tooth and claw. On one occasion we were woken by a lion roaring his presence, Ranger search showed he was approx 100 yards from our lodge.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Safari Lodge is built along the banks of the dry Mabrak riverbed. The 11 rooms at Safari Lodge include a Treehouse Suite overlooking the nearby Xikwenga Dam as well as three other room types: Safari, Elephant and River Rooms, some of which have private plunge pools. Kids over the age of 12 are welcome to stay at Safari Lodge. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Ulusaba Safari Hotel Ulusaba Private Game Reserve