Our final camp in the Sabi Sand area was a new one to Fish Eagle Safaris. Originally we had been scheduled at another nearby property that we have sent quite a few clients to – Savanna Game Reserve – but due to availability we were moved to Dulini Lodge. I thought it would be interesting to go in without doing any previous research, so when we arrived I was quite impressed.
Dulini has just 6 chalets, spread apart nicely. Each chalet has a view to the Mabrak River which was dry during our stay. With a stout four poster bed, sitting area, private plunge pool and a restroom large enough to do cartwheels, we definitely felt pampered. A few resident nyala spent the entire day grazing around our suite, which helped remind us we were in the middle of the African bush.
Our guide, Dinamosi, was wonderfully boisterous. He had a story or joke to tell about every tree stump, mongoose or blade of grass we saw. He quickly found us a pride of lion having a siesta with uncomfortably full bellies. Towards the end of the evening, we were lucky to have a great cheetah siting as well. It was quite dark, but the photos came out well.
The following morning was a whirlwind of rhino, wild dog and a fleeting glimpse of some buffalo. It would be our only buffalo sighting in the entire Sabi Sand, although we saw plenty more in the Timbavati region. With the addition of cheetah, wild dog and buffalo, we had seen the ‘Magnificent Seven’ while at Dulini during the course of just one-night drive and one morning game drive. For those that do not know, the ‘Magnificent Seven’ consists of the same animals in the ‘Big 5’ plus cheetah and wild painted dogs. Seeing these seven animals is difficult to do in an entire safari but we managed it in under 24 hours!
As you can see in most of the photos, there was a good amount of grass growing even though the region was in the middle of a serious drought. Many times, the grass helped add environment to these photos, but one time in particular it hampered what I thought was a perfect photo. We had a viewing of the same Majingilane male lions that we had seen at Earth Lodge. As I was tracking him through the tall grass I felt like I had snapped a real winner, only to find out the grass was in better focus than the lion. Perhaps next time I’ll get that perfect photo.
All in all, Dulini is an excellent lodge with a great location. Many of the camps in the same region – Savanna, Ulusaba, etc. – open their property borders with each other. The beginning of your game drive will take place specifically within Dulini’s range and after an hour or so the borders are open for exploration. The system works quite well as we really didn’t see many other vehicles except at the cheetah and wild dog sightings.
Before our departure transfer, we made a quick stop at Ulusaba for a sight inspection. These Virgin Limited properties are another great choice for upscale safari accommodations. Ulusaba Safari Lodge is on the open plains while Ulusaba Rock Lodge is up at the top of a large koppie (rocky outcrop) with amazing views. We would recommend splitting 3-4 nights between the two properties to get some great diversity in your lodging while staying in a highly active game viewing area.
Ngala Safari Lodge
After our inspection of Ulusaba we started driving north to the Timbavati region. The drive is quite long, about 3 ½ hours, but there is a flight option for anyone preferring that method. We had only recently used Ngala for the first time with a large booking. After hearing the rave reviews, we asked for a visit and were not disappointed.
We stayed at Ngala Safari Lodge, which is Ngala’s larger property. It includes 21 total cottages including 4 for families and 17 for couples/pairs. The smaller Ngala Tented Camp is their sister property which is even more luxurious and has fewer suites. Bert has since visited Ngala Tented Camp and returned with equally good marks.
As with any &Beyond property, you are made to feel extremely welcome and at home while staying at Ngala. We arrived just in time for afternoon tea before the evening game drive and got to meet our guide, Lyle, and the other 3 guests that would be joining us on game drives. The high tea and snack station is right beside the camp’s waterhole, which attracts a good amount of plains game during the morning and afternoon hours.
Photos courtesy of &Beyond.
The rooms at Ngala Safari Lodge are laid out similarly to Kirkman’s Kamp (another &Beyond property) but felt larger inside. A single building holds two separate suites which is great for families traveling together. Each suite is divided in a way that still feels nice and private – think African Safari Duplex. Similar to Kirkman’s Kamp again, the dining menu was wonderful. With meat, chicken, fish, and vegetarian options. They even provided a digestif cart with dessert wines and brandy after the meal.
The Timbavati region was quite a bit drier than the Sabi Sands. Even though it was towards the end of the rainy season, both areas were in the middle of a very long drought. They had had a few decent rains in Sabi Sands but only some light rain in Timbavati. Because of this, the grass was still mostly brown and dry, plains game was struggling to find food and predators were very active. We still managed to see a good amount of all types of game, but we were only in the area for one evening game drive and one morning game drive. I think a two or three night stay is mandatory to get the best out of any safari camp.
BACK TO TOP