- Big 5 game viewing
- 2 game drives and 1 bush walk daily
- Telescope for star gazing
- Photographic safari workshops
Elephant Plains is a well-priced, owner-run ‘home from home’ located not too far from South Africa’s Kruger National Park. This comfortable, down-to-earth lodge was established back in the 1950s by private landowners who dropped the fences between their properties to create a larger area for animals to roam free, and today the property is still known for its excellent game viewing. There’s a spa, gym, a small library, a games room and two swimming pools to enjoy. Year-round game viewing is possible, and a popular time to visit is during the May to September dry season when the animals flock to the nearby seasonal river to drink.
The lodge accommodates a maximum of 24 guests and there’s a good variety of room types to choose from – the most affordable being the five charming, albeit somewhat small, ‘rondavels’ which are set out across the pretty gardens. Each ‘rondavel’ comes with air conditioning, overhead fans, mosquito nets and a sundeck and there’s a double, a triple and a family room to choose from. In addition, there are six much larger open-plan, glass-fronted suites, all of which house a lounge with a fireplace, a double bedroom with air conditioning, an ensuite bathroom and a private viewing deck. Last but certainly not least is the Manyeleti honeymoon suite complete with private plunge pool, daybed and fabulous views of the riverbed.
Activities naturally centre on the wildlife. Two game drives and a bush walk are on offer every day, and off-road driving takes visitors closer to the action. The dry riverbanks adjacent to the lodge are a hive of wildlife activity and Big 5 encounters are possible, with sightings of elephants who like to roam close to the lodge particularly prevalent. If you’re lucky you might also spot the elusive leopards, wild dogs or cheetahs. For keen birdwatchers, the bush walks are by far the best way to spot some of the 300 bird species in the area. At night, stargazing with the lodge’s trained guides and telescope is a must, and the professional photographic workshops are also very popular.
Children are welcome and there are loads of child-friendly activities on offer from painting, drawing and beading, to constructing ant farms and going on mini bushwalks. There’s a babysitting service and plenty of activities for children who are too young to participate in the safari tours. One of the lodge’s particular charms is that it is unfenced, and while it’s unlikely that animals will approach humans, parents are reminded to ensure that their children remain under constant adult supervision.
We had a fantastic time and all the arrangements worked perfectly.
We were very impressed with the quality and service levels of all 4 locations visited and it was truly a holiday of a lifetime.
Thank you to you and to Lisa for giving us this experience.
Particular highlights for us – really the whole experience, but of particular impact:
Breathtaking scenery at Cathedral Peak Hotel
Rhino Ridge game drives incredible, thanks to guide (we had their head guide, Hala, who’s knowledge, enthusiasm, kindness, interaction, ability to spot wildlife was out of this world)
Luxury of Rhino Ridge (shower, food, views, service)
Immersion in nature, torch lit meal on last night and beach trip at Kosi Forest Lodge
Level of service, quality of food throughout
Catherine F reviewing South Africa Safari, Beach and Wetlands on 04 September 2019
We had a fantastic time. Thank you and it went smoothly in the main except for British Airways!
The trip had the right degree of luxury and relaxation (for me) and adventure (all of us).
A few points:
Driving directions to Umlunghi Lodge were slightly wrong. The driving directions should read at the 4th roundabout take the first exit and turn right over the railway. We loved it there. Anton, Bianca and her son and Harriet were very informative and entertaining. The snake talk and handling, night walks and seeing scorpions and the walk in the bush and "bumping" into a giraffe were really special. The kayak trip to Makuzi pan that the lodge organised was good and Tomaz was very informative and kept a respectful distance from the hippos.3 nights was plenty.
Rhino River Lodge game reserve was incredibly luxurious and we felt very looked after. The lion siting in camp the day we arrived sent an extra frisson of excitement down our spines. It was easy to forget there were predators that could attack us with all that luxury. The staff and guides (Karl) were knowledgeable and invested in their set up. We saw rhinos with baby, cheetahs with young, porcupine, Genet, wildebeast, Impala, Lion with young, buffalo, a puff adder, ostrich, zebra and giraffes. 4 nights was also plenty.
They all served great food but I felt Ghost Mountain Inn topped the lot. The variety was amazing. We arrived at 10.30 but could not get into our room until 2 ish. The service was not so personal I guess because it is larger (far more than 50 rooms). We had been a bit spoilt at Rhino River! My daughter and I had some treatments at the Spa and loved it. We also went on a large boat trip on Jonzi and had a closer encounter with a large bull hippo and also a hike up Ghost Mountain with Patrick who was very informative and passionate about his people and his country. Isaac the other guide there took us on the boat trip and pointed out the sugar cane harvest on the way. he was very informative also.
Lastly, Lalaria Lodge was fabulous and we all piled into the surf of the Indian Ocean. There was hardly anyone on the beach. It was "too cold" according to the landlady. The view from her terrace was of the ocean and whales breaching in the distance. I could have sat there all day. She very kindly provided us with a Scrabble board of her own for us to play. We took a Microlight ride from Ballito over the coastline in the hope of seeing whales and dolphins but no luck. If we had stayed longer we might have gone on a boat trip from Durban. We had a meal at a restaurant called Mozambique which was great fun with vast portions, plenty of carbs and fresh seafood!
The value of the Rand to the Pound was excellent and therefore we felt that we got excellent value which also played a large part!
Katrina P reviewing South Africa Bush & Beach Safari For Families on 02 September 2019
Hi, just back home now as stayed in London last night. It was fab! We loved it! Amazing all round- Thankyou. Best holiday ever!!!
Accommodation great at both places, guides lovely, staff great. We saw more animals than ever expected: giraffes, lion, elephants, water hog, wilder beast, impala, white rhino, crocodiles, hippos in lake Sybia, monkeys in trees at Tonga.
Beach beautiful, but a bit windy, waves v rough but didn’t deter my boys. We snorkeled which was fab but too rough on day we booked to do ocean experience.
My boys swam in all pools!!!
Weather better than we expected!
Must go and do some laundry, but hope that helps?
Nicola B reviewing South Africa Luxury Safari & Beach Holiday on 24 July 2019