Live the luxe lodge life at this unique offering on the Kruger’s Sabie river

Elephant Point, bordering the Kruger, is an unusual collection of 22 lodges with luxury accommodation, five-star dining and exceptional game viewing

06 November 2022 - 00:00
By Andrea Nagel
Ubuntu Lodge from the pool area.
Image: Supplied Ubuntu Lodge from the pool area.

Impervious to traffic and the relentless synthesised clicks of cellphone cameras, a hyena mom steals the last rays from the sun-warmed tar. Her three pups, nestled into the soft fluff on her tummy, incline their heads in different directions like young models at a photo shoot showing off their best angles. They giggle for the camera. It’s the last sighting of the day on a short trip from Skukuza Airport in Kruger National Park, through Paul Kruger Gate with its iconic white statue of the old-fashioned statesman before we get to our beds for the night at Elephant Point — a series of 22 exclusive game lodges overlooking the Sabie River, the natural border between Elephant Point and the park.

Of the 22, we're staying in Ubuntu, designed by premier wildlife lodge architects Nick Plewman Architects + Associates.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS?

If you’ve wondered what it’s like to own a luxury lodge, Elephant Point is a great place to confirm your suspicions. It’s glorious. Ubuntu Lodge has four luxury master suites, with elegant bathrooms (every tap and handle is beautifully designed). The floor-to-ceiling steel windows and doors in every room flood the voluminous spaces with light and open up to the bush, creating an indoors / outdoors feel throughout. Upstairs, the bar area segues into a viewing deck where we savoured cocktails and conversation as the sun set. 

Delicious comfort at Ubuntu Lodge.
Image: Supplied Delicious comfort at Ubuntu Lodge.

THE BACKSTORY

The 22 lodges are mainly privately owned and rented to families or groups. The extent of investment in the area, local and international, was revealed (or swaggered about) when we went on a guided tour of the property, including short trips into some beautifully designed “game mansions”, each with its own look and feel. Lodge 23, for example, has an exotic Moroccan ambience with elegant arches and brightly coloured soft furnishings. Former England cricket captain Kevin Pietersen’s R35m Umganu lodge can be described as safari chic, with large open spaces and minimalist design emphasised by some dramatic pieces.

The rich furnishings of Umganu lodge at Elephant Point.
Image: Supplied The rich furnishings of Umganu lodge at Elephant Point.

The diversity in size and design — though no expense is spared as far as luxury is concerned — means you can pick and choose the game lodge experience you’re looking for, assured that you will have plenty of relaxation, fun with friends and/or family and plenty of game viewing with professional guides.

FOOD AND DRINK?

At Elephant Point guests can opt for self-catering; use the services of the private chefs on-site; choose to dine at the restaurant on the premises; or a mixture of all three. At Ubuntu, the chef served delicious pan-fried kingklip and springbok carpaccio with deep-fried capers and marinated feta, and we enjoyed delicious breakfasts after our early morning game drives at the Boma & River Deck restaurant.

Food enjoyed under the stars tastes even better at the Boma & River Deck restaurant.
Image: Supplied Food enjoyed under the stars tastes even better at the Boma & River Deck restaurant.

WORTH MENTIONING

Our game ranger was exceptionally knowledgeable about the area, lodges and animals we came across in the park. We spent the mornings on game drives and the afternoons relaxing around the pool, enjoying the beautiful spaces in the lodge and being treated to spa treatments in the comfort of our rooms. The treatments are based on ancient traditional massage methods, such as the Xigiya massage and tribal head massage, and are influenced by African culture. We also spent a morning whiling away a few hours on one of the three self-guided walking trails, the Nyarhi (1.5km), Saringwa (2.1km) and the Three Rivers (2km), perfect for bird watching and appreciating the flora and insets.

Walking trails are a great way to learn about plants, insects and birds.
Image: Supplied Walking trails are a great way to learn about plants, insects and birds.

WHERE IS IT?

A 45-minute flight on Airlink from OR Tambo International Airport brings you to Skukuza Airport in Kruger National Park. A 20-minute transfer through the park takes you to Elephant Point, situated just outside Paul Kruger Gate.

The writer was a guest of Legacy Hotels & Resorts’ Elephant Point and flew courtesy of Airlink