Sabi Sabi: Safari-moon

Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge rooms crafted from local natural materials

The wilds of the South African bushveld are tamed by the ringmaster of luxury

We made it to Africa! And as the greatest reward for our 23-hours of travel halfway around the world we went straight to Sabi Sabi. Based on the western edge of South Africa’s famous Kruger National Park, Sabi’s Earth Lodge is rated in the top 15-hotels in the world by Travel + Leisure. It was one of the first private game reserves to open after the banning of Big-Five hunting in 1979 and their years of experience with wildlife conservation, plus above-and-beyond hospitality gave us the grandest welcome to the continent.

Sabi Sabi has four top-notch camps within their 5,000 hectacres of the Sabi Sands region but their most luxurious and romantic is undoubtedly the Earth Lodge. Recently redesigned by the owner Jacqui Loon and renowned decorator Stephen Rich, the ten-year old property played on the glamorous side of nature by highlighting South Africa’s rich resources like gold, copper, platinum and bronze accents against the mud, grass, and concrete of the existing architecture.

When we opened the doors to our suite, we swooned. Not only was it as big as our Hoboken, NJ apartment, it was decorated to perfection. From the dramatic wood wall sculpture that stretched the length of the room to the plush texture of the embossed velvet pillows, it may have been the most exquisite hotel room we’ve ever seen.

The goodies in and out of the room were so thoughtful and totally decadent. Taking our complimentary decanter of sherry out to the lounge chairs beside our private plunge pool (yes, you read that correctly), we started our animal sightings from the comfort of our patio. Talk about luxury!

We went on two game drives a day in our fearless and fabulous Land Cruiser with our guide Michael at the helm, exploring the bushveld and sighting more animals than I ever thought possible outside of a zoo. There are too many unbelievable wildlife photographs to show you in this post (21 lions, herds of buffalo, families of elephants, and countless impala…to name a few) but stay tuned for Mike’s Sabi Sands roundup in our next blog.

An evening drive isn’t complete without a “sundowner.” I absolutely love this African concept: When the sun goes down, stop what your doing, have drink, and toast the day! To take this idea to the next level, Earth Lodge sets their sundowners up with a full bar and appetizers served on a magical cocktail table attached to the hood of the Land Cruiser.

The food at Sabi Sabi was always a feast for the senses. Dinners on the lantern-lit patio were always spectacular but we couldn’t get over their breakfast. This bountiful buffet had every yogurt topping imaginable (homemade granola, toasted almonds, passion fruit flesh, sunflower seeds, wild berries, you name it), cheese platters, homemade pastries, and eggs made to order.

Between game drives, the Amani Spa had an incredible menu of their own. Detox body wraps, couples hot-stone massages, Amani foot ritual to name a few, and if nothing else, walking through their meditation garden always made us feel a great sense of calm.

Earth Lodge knows a thing or two about romance and the element of surprise. We came back to our room on our final evening only to find the entire suite sprinkled with rose petals and bedecked with candles….including the bathtub. We thought we’d died and gone to heaven after a soak in our bubble bath and bottle of bubbly, until a four-course dinner was delivered for the ultimate in-room service.

Safari is one of the most exhilarating ways to spend a honeymoon but at Sabi Sabi you never felt exasperated. With ample time between game drives and star-filled nights under the African sky, relaxation finds its match with an adventure of a lifetime.

Note: Sabi Sabi invited us to stay with them. Our stay was comped; however, all opinions are our own.

Much love from Sabi Sands,

Mike & Anne

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