Literally constructed from ton after ton of earth, Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge combines eco-conscious design with utter pampered luxury.
Yet, the earth finish was a fortunate accident. During construction, a plasterboard slipped off its earth backing. That rough textured, natural-looking speckled earthy, leafy, twiggy finish was exactly what owners Hilton and Jacqui Loon had wanted.
If you are looking for a once in a lifetime safari experience, look no further than Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge. Entering our suite we are welcomed by a bottle of sparkling wine chilling in ice and two sparkling flutes. Certainly a place for special occasions, such as anniversaries and big birthdays, Earth Lodge’s welcoming and thoughtful service makes every visit special.
Adjoining the south-west corner of South Africa’s Kruger National Park, Sabi Sabi in their 230 square mile private game reserve, has created safari lodges that represent Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.
Earth Lodge definitely represents Tomorrow with its low-rise contemporary design, merging into the landscape with its neutral and organic tones. The lodge also represents hope for the survival of endangered species and a more caring approach from man to the environment.
At the heart of Earth Lodge there are open-plan bar, lounges, reception, restaurant and swimming pool giving views down to a waterhole, where hippos and elephants frequently spar. Tall trees, either uprooted by Sabi River floods or elephants, have been repurposed into the architecture, appearing to hold up the roof. An eclectic mix of metal sculptures, kudo horns, distressed copper and local Shangaan art create a very contemporary but comfortable ambience.
On each wing of the lodge there are six seriously detached suites plus the uber-luxurious Amber Suite. So detached and secluded are the suites that they all feature an outdoor shower. Spectacular views and Lion King sunrises come as standard. To the left of reception there is the Amani Spa: wellness amongst the wilderness. To the right an air-conditioned gym has a glass wall providing yet more veldt views.
As well as an indoor lounge, each of the suites has a covered but open-plan lounge by the private plunge pool. Though it is not entirely private. Elephants occasionally call by to drink from the pool.
Walking to breakfast, guests spot tracks on the path. Always some form of antelope, hyena on most days and occasionally elephant, lion or leopard. There are no fences at Earth Lodge. Consequently, when after dark, it is time to head back to your suite, a member of staff accompanies you.
Every meal at Earth Lodge is a special occasion. Goodness, our waitress, wears the colours of the Shangaan people – burnt orange, yellows and browns – embroidered into her top. As Sabi Sabi has been in the region for over four decades, the grandchildren of some of the original staff now work at the lodges.
For breakfast and lunch, Goodness brings menus for our perusal. For the evening meal, chef Wiljan visits every table to talk guests through the options. He explains sourcing, flavouring and cooking. No surprise that game, such as eland in a coffee and coriander sauce, appears alongside fish, poultry and vegetarian options.
Some evenings, even in winter, a lantern-lit dinner is taken on the lawn overlooking the waterhole, then there is a brazier-lit sheltered boma. On windy nights, guests have to forego dinner under the stars of the Southern Cross and the Milky Way. Instead taking their seats in the restaurant.
Early morning and late afternoon game drives are part of the Sabi Sabi routine. But a walking safari, with armed ranger, gives a low-level and more intimate insight into the environment.
Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge takes an innovative look into the future future of safari. As well as caring for nature, Sabi Sabi has established close links with the local community, assisting with educational and entrepreneurial initiatives. Sabi Sabi has a long-term vision for this very special private game reserve.
Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge fact file
Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge, representing tomorrow, is one of four lodges within the Sabi Sabi game reserve. Learn more at sabisabi.com
Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge, the largest of the four lodges, with self-service buffet meals has family rooms and children’s activities.
Last week we looked at traditional Sabi Sabi Selati Camp, a step into safari history.
Whilst Sabi Sabi Little Bush Camp, the smallest of the lodges with just six suites, makes for the perfect serene retreat.
If you enjoyed Michael’s Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge – luxurious safari in South Africa review, you’ll find more trip of a lifetime reviews on our Travel channel.Last modified: September 13, 2022