Lion Sands hugs the bank of the magnificent Sabie river. This is the only lodge in the Sabi Sands Reserve with access to the river; where you are guaranteed spectacular game viewing. Add to this the best bush cuisine imaginable, South Africa’s top trackers and a setting that is drop-dead beautiful, and you get an idea why Ivory Lodge really does deserve a spot amongst the world’s best places to stay.
- Some of Africa’s most stylish safari villas looking out to the rapids of the Sabie river
- Fabulous food prepared by the Ivory Lodge’s team of chefs
- A state-of-the-art spa and gym shared with the adjacent River Lodge
- Spending a night in one of the incredibly romantic Treehouses – highly recommended
- One of the best reserves in Southern Africa for game viewing – guests are virtually guaranteed the Big 5 within a day or two, led by some of the country’s top rangers and trackers
- A stay at Ivory Lodge is a very expensive treat but it is worth every last rand, and prices are all-inclusive
- Purists might argue that the style is too sleek and urban for a bush lodge (plate glass walls and air-conditioning, whatever next?)
- Staying anywhere else after Lion Sands is almost bound to be something of an anti-climax
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Safari Lodge
- 9 rooms
- All meals included
- Over 10s welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Beach Nearby
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Car not necessary
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
Ivory Lodge’s 9 villas were designed to guarantee guests complete privacy and are in keeping with the lodge’s ethic of cossetting you at every turn. There are 8 x 1-bedroom villas and 1 x 2-bedroom villa, Fish Eagle Residence. Named after Kruger birds, each has been given a broad sweep of river frontage so that you neither hear nor see the other suites. Their Zen-chic design is as stunning as it is faultless, with thatched bedrooms and separate sitting rooms placed either side of a river-facing deck and a heated drop-rim plunge pool. The front, back and pool-facing walls are all glass, so as to celebrate those incomparable views: you’ll be loath to drop down the slatted blinds at night.
And you are treated to every conceivable creature comfort: kingsize beds, raised bathrooms with free-standing bathtubs from which you can gaze out to the Sabie, and a second outdoor shower set in a raked Zen garden. The fabulous living rooms contain fireplaces, snazzy sofas and chairs strewn with beaded cushions; there’s also an amazing selection of goodies in the fridge and 'maxi bar', and masses more in the bathroom.
You can also spend a night in one of the lodge’s two Treehouses: one in a high jackalberry, one overlooking the river, and the other in an ancient leadwood tree (named Chalkley Treehouse and Kingston Treehouse). You’ll be driven out from the lodge after dinner and left to commune with the extraordinary African night. You get a double bed with a mattress and linen, a mosquito net, bedside tables, a toilet, a bush vanity table, and a viewing deck with chairs and gowns and slippers.
- In room treatments available
- Mosquito net
- Safe box
All meals are moveable feasts at Ivory Lodge. You normally eat on the mahogany deck of the main lodge which wraps around towering trees and looks out to the Sabie: this must number amongst the world’s most spectacular places to dine. Meals are also prepared at a second platform at the river’s edge, at a leadwood-lined boma or out in the Sabi bush. And you can always choose to dine in the privacy of your suite: meals are delivered via a ‘Buluwayo club hatch’, as is early morning tea and coffee before the game drives. Your waiter will discreetly bang a Shangaan gong as she or he approaches.
Ivory Lodge’s cuisine would hold its own against that of any Michelin-starred restaurant and we’ve rarely seen such exquisitely presented food. Buffet breakfasts include a stunning array of meats, cheeses, fruits, juices and homemade breads, followed by whatever cooked breakfast variant you might like. Lunches are also often buffets with a choice of soups, salads, dips, samosas, fish cakes and mezzes, there's also sushi and a selection of meat dishes, plus maybe ostrich bolognaise or rooibos-infused honeyed chicken pieces.
Dinners are as good as they come, taking the form of big buffets out in the bush or set menus with a choice of starters, mains and desserts on the mahogany deck or in Ivory lodge’s dining room. Starters might be a grilled calamari steak, mushroom and white wine soup, a light Greek salad or smoked crocodile salad with a gooseberry and lemon vinaigrettes. Our main course choices included gemsbok fillet pocketed with fresh avocado, duck breast with black cherries, and Eland babotie. Ivory Lodge also has a cellar with an extrordinary selection of wines; food of this standard deserves a really good bottle. Alternatively try some of the other tipples on offer at the bar.
- All meals included
- Vegetarian options
- Join morning and evening game drives with expert guiding and tracking. You get a 2-man team in your jeep on all drives and they possess encyclopaedic knowledge of the bush. Evening game drives boast spectacular African sunsets; morning drives gorgeous African light. When you return you're greeted with a drink and a refreshing towel
- Go for a game walk. This is the best way to experience the incredible, raw energy of the African bush. Your guide will carry a rifle for your protection
- Birdwatch from your decked, poolside terrace - or book a dedicated birding safari. All suites have their own spotting scopes; stargaze from them at night
- Walk along the Sabie (with a ranger) to the neighbouring River Lodge, where you can indulge in any number of beauty treatments at the spa, or work out in the gym
- Enjoy the unique treehouse experience - on a raised platform where you sleep in luxury to the sounds of the African bush at night (additional cost; request on enquiry)
- Visit a local Shangana village to buy local crafts, learn about traditional medicine and share dinner with a family in the village
- Leave an hour before sunrise for an awesome 1-hour hot air balloon trip over the Sabie River Valley at dawn; or a longer "panorama" trip over Blyde River Canyon and Gods Window (weather permitting)
- Dip into your heated plunge pool or into the lodge’s spectacular drop-rim pool
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Hot air ballooning
- Plantlife / flora
- Private guided tours
- Traditional cultures
Ivory Lodge isn’t really suitable for kids, as the accent is firmly placed on grown-up intimacy and privacy. However, children over 10 are welcome, and there's a 2-Bedroom Villa, Fish Eagle Residence, that can sleep up to 6. Children between 10 and 15 are charged at 50% of adult tariff if sharing with 2 adults. If children under 16 are in their own room, without an adult, one child will be charged an adult rate, and the other charged at 50% of an adult rate. Those over 15 are charged at adult rates.
Teens (over 12)
Lion Sands Ivory Lodge is in the Sabi Sand South Reserve on the western side of the Kruger National Park. It's a 5 hour drive (520km) northeast of Johannesburg, 45 minutes (32km) from the Paul Kruger Gate; and 1 hour (67km) away from Hazyview.
Skukuza airfield (12km) is the closest airport to Ivory Lodge. There are 3 daily flights (1 hour 15 minutes) from Johannesburg, and 1 daily flight from Cape Town, to this small landing strip. Please note that your baggage cannot exceed 20kg. Road transfers from here are included in your tariff and will take 25 minutes. Mala Mala Airfield (40km) is also relatively close. There is a daily scheduled 1-hour flight to Mala Mala Airfield from Johannesburg. Lion Sands can collect you from here to drive you back to the Lodge.Kruger Mpumalanga Airport (110km) is larger, but further away. You can fly there direct from Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town; from there it is a 1-hour and 45-minute (110km) road transfer; or you can get a 25-minute flight to Skukuza (see above). Phalaborwa Airport is 3 hours (243km) away. Hoedspruit Airport is 2 hours 15 minutes (160km) away.
Driving from Johannesburg takes about 5 hours. If you want to hire a car see our car rental recommendations.
Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.
More on getting to South Africa and getting around
- Skukuza Airfield 12.0 km SZK
- Skukuza Airfield 310.0 km JNB
- Beach 999.0 km
- Shops 60.0 km
- Restaurant 60.0 km