What do luxury accommodations mean to you? Is it the thread count of the sheets or the number of stars behind the property’s name? For this boomer traveler, personal service is the key. And that’s what Alan and I found at the all-inclusive Lion Sands Ivory Lodge located in South Africa’s Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve.
Exploring in luxury at Ivory Lodge
As the Land Rover screeched to a halt in front of the reception area, Robyn from registration waited on the steps to meet us. Another staff member offered a hot towel plus a cold glass of tea. And, from that moment on, the Ivory Lodge staff greeted us by our first name wherever we went.
Our Ivory Sands villa, one of only six, offered seclusion and comfort dressed in contemporary black and white decor. A deck, with lounge chairs resting in front of a plunge pool, separated the bedroom from the living area.
The bed overlooked a wall of windows making nature the star in our dreams. In the large, open bathroom, I recovered from the rigors of safari by soaking in the huge oval tub with a river view. Alan favored the outdoor shower.
The living area included a fireplace, plenty of seating options and a telescope for animal viewing. Books and CD’s on a South African theme added to our immersion into the culture.
A well-stocked mini bar provided alcoholic as well as non-alcoholic beverages. Each morning, coffee and muffins were delivered through a dumb waiter window located next to the mini bar.
Meals were served in the dining room or on the adjacent tree-shaded patio. The dinner menu, especially, offered a variety of elegant choices.
At night, a flashlight-wielding staff member escorted guests to the dining room where we gathered in the bar area for drinks and conversation before being escorted to dinner.
My favorite? The night we were led by lantern to an outside area where tables draped in white linen cloths sat around a roaring fire. More lanterns hung from tree branches twinkling down on an enchanting meal.
Lion Sands safari
The luxury continued on safari. Well maintained Land Rovers offered tiered seating, two to a row, so that all guests had a view. A covered box located between the seats contained binoculars, sunscreen, insect repellent, rain ponchos and books on birding and animals. Each morning, at a refreshment stop,our ranger and tracker set up a table with coffee (spiked with Amarula if you wished), fruit juices, granola, smoothies, muffins and small quiches.
In the evening, sundowners included champagne, gin and tonics or wine along with a variety of appetizers and a beautiful view. Returning from safari, Derrick, the bartender, greeted us at the reception area with a different signature drink each night.
Wildlife watching at Lion Sands
One afternoon, we came across a pride of lions taking an afternoon nap. We sat in the Land Rover for almost an hour taking photographs. A magical travel moment that I will never forget.
When the safari vehicle pulled up close to a pond in South Africa’s Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve, safari guests from Ivory Lodge, including us, reflexively covered noses and mouths to protect against the putrid smell of a rotting elephant carcass; but it didn’t help much. The guide and tracker both calmly breathed in the obnoxious odor, while the rest of us tried not to gag.
Two male lions lounged near the dead elephant, alternating between gorging themselves and guarding their food source from the vultures that waited in the branches of nearby trees. The handsome lion in this photograph swished his tail to chase away a couple of persistent flies that buzzed near the majestic animal’s eyes. Would he pose for us much longer?
How many more minutes would we have to photograph a lion up close? When your safari vehicle pulls up to an animal sighting, there’s not a lot of time to change lenses. That’s where a camera like the Panasonic Lumix comes in handy. On this day, I appreciated the 18X zooming capability (current models zoom to 24X). Look at those eyes!
Of course the animals are the stars of this experience. But, my massage by our villa’s plunge pool was a close second.
Thinking about planning an African safari? Check out all the information on our complete Safari Page as your resource for active boomer travels in Africa!
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