Elephant Plains Game Lodge – South Africa safari

Nestled in the dense shrubbery of the bushveld are thatched huts called rondavels (yes they’re round) replete with netted canopy beds and soft white linen, plus wooden decks overlooking the dry river bank and sub-tropical woodland. Elephant Plains Game Lodge is romance and adventure wrapped in old-world South Africa safari trimmings; a place where spotting leopards, lions, cape buffalo, elephants and rhinoceroses is almost assured. There are even webcams hung around Kruger National Park! By day, trackers load up Land Cruisers for game drives to traverse the Sabi Sand Elephant Plains concession for up-close sightings of hippos, wild dogs, leopards… and in the evening, as hyenas begin howling, relax in the spa until drums summon all to a traditional outdoor Boma dinner.

country:   South Africa
region:   Mpumalanga
category:   retreats
type:   accomodation

name:   Elephant Plains Game Lodge
web:   www.elephantplains.co.za
GPS:   -24.800448,31.539637
address:   Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Kruger National Park




  • Elephant Plains Game Lodge – South Africa safari 1
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Elephant Plains Game Lodge – South Africa safari

What makes Elephant Plains Game Lodge unique?

There are 2 things that make Elephant Plains Game Lodge special:

  1. Rondavels in the bushveld (plus private luxury suites)
    • Rondavels
    • Rondavels are round huts right in the veld, large, open with circular thatched roofs; cozy, romantic and with a dose of rustic comfort, almost luxury. Each of the 5 rondavels has a deck and views of the woodlands or river bank. (Note: this lodge offers exceptional personal service. Even with so many safari game lodge choices, they succeed by delivering more individual attention than expected.)

    • Honeymoon suite
    • The Manyeleti Honeymoon Suite is a fine place to stay even if you’re not on your honeymoon! It’s tough to find fault with the private pool in the middle of the mini compound or the daybeds for napping. Behind French doors is a king-sized canopy bed, an en-suite bath, a glass walk-in shower facing the veld, hardwood furnishings & African décor. This safari game lodge exudes sensual naturalness; deluxe without extravagance. There are open-beam ceilings covered with thatch and… everything smells the way you imagine the bushveld should: of grass, wood & earth. It’s a luxury game lodge without pretension; a place for adventurers to be guided or for seasoned safari-lovers to indulge.

    • Luxury suites
    • The Leopard Luxury Suite (and five others like it) aren’t far behind in rustically-luxurious amenities and natural décor: fireplace, air-con, mini bar, double bath, glass walk-in shower with a view and private balcony overlooking the elephant path. The suites at this South Africa game lodge should not be confused with “suites” at the Ritz – they’re very comfy, but not extravagant.

  2. South Africa safari game drives
  3. At Elephant Plains it’s about details and personal service... but first, the big picture:

    • 2.2 million hectares

    Elephant Plains Game Lodge is in Sabi Sand Game Reserve (named after the Sabi & the Sand Rivers), a part of Kruger National Park, one of the largest in Africa, with unfenced forest and a traversable area (for wildlife to roam) totaling 2.2 million hectares.

    And now the smaller picture:

    • Elephant Plains concession

    The Elephant Plains concession (the land they have the right to use) is only a miniscule part of that total, yet they make extraordinary use of what they have. Rangers & trackers, who operate the drives for Elephant Plains Lodge, stand on their heads to deliver wildlife sightings, even for guests with just a couple days.

The South Africa safari experience

A South Africa safari experience is about two things:

  1. the ANIMALS you’ll see on a game drive and around the grounds
  2. the LODGE where nature comes with more comforts than strictly necessary

EP Lodge isn’t the only safari operator in the area, but they have a strong record of taking guests out who return reporting having seen some, or all, the Big 5. Their strategic location on the bushveld provides an ideal spot to sight leopards, hyenas and over 300 rare bird species.

What to expect from the EP game lodge

  • Lodgings:
  • The safari game lodge itself, and guest lodgings, are some of the first to have been built on the reserve, though they’ve only been open to the public for about a decade. The facilities are rustically comfortable; naturally cozy, and romantic with a touch of noble – not colonial.

  • Shangaan trackers:
  • As can be expected of a top game lodge in South Africa, the guests partake of game drives and bush walks with rangers and Shangaan trackers, considered to be some of the best in the region. Shangaan trackers are native Tsonga people, from the Mpumalanga and Limpopo region of South Africa, known for their expert abilities to track wildlife. All trackers and rangers observe ecological rules to preserve Kruger National Park and the Sabi Sand Game Reserve on and off the tracks.

  • Wildlife:
  • Wild animals have become accustomed to ranging vehicles, which makes the drives peaceful for animals & observers. Even without venturing too far from the lodge, it’s possible to spot large game drinking water or taking a nap in the bushes.

  • Drinks, drums, boma and rusks:
  • EP offers South Africa game lodge traditions like the safari Sundowner drink (which is exactly what it sound like – stopping at sundown and setting up a small wilderness camp to have a drink), a drumbeat announcing the boma dinner, and traditional South African breakfasts with coffee and rusk (“beskuit” in Afrikaans) – a toasted biscuit for dunking in coffee or dipping in rooibos tea.

The main game reserve lodge at Elephant Plains

  • Main Lodge: EP’s main game reserve lodge is a magnificent structure with an alfresco dining area, bar, lounge and a well-stocked wine cellar.
  • Spa+: African Health Spa offers post-safari massages, facials & body treatments overlooking the lodge and veld – plus a swimming pool and gym.

Elephant Plains luxury game lodge has 4-star comfort without stuffiness. It feels, tastes and smells of earth grass and… even the hyenas howling at night are a welcome reminder that it’s we who visit their habitat. Wildlife roaming close to this private game lodge is a second clue that we are “guests” of “their” bushveld.

Game lodge in South Africa promises the Big 5

Wondering what animals comprise the Big Five? They are:

  1. African elephants
  2. Rhinoceros
  3. Lions
  4. Cape buffalo
  5. Leopards

The easiest to spot is the leopard! The point of a South Africa safari is to hunt without harming. The new Big 5 “trophies” are photographs, not heads.

Safari Wedding by Elephant Plains private game lodge

EP conducts “serious” safaris on the Sabi Sand game reserve; safaris where you get dirty and bump about in a Land Cruisers and return smelling the part. But they also cater to tame, nicer smelling, events for romantics who fancy a safari wedding or honeymoon. The private game lodge organizes nuptials and romantic safaris for bridal photo shoots! They do a lot more than provide a wilderness backdrop. They organize ministers, photographers, even African choirs, and take care of normal things, like cakes, flowers, hairdos and makeup. Safari weddings must be small – with a max. of 24 guests.

Getting to Sabi Sands Reserve, Kruger National Park, EP luxury game lodge

Entry is ONLY through Gowrie Gate in northern Kruger National Park. To enter Sabi Sand Game Reserve and reach the lodge we suggest using the detailed instructions provided on their website: Elephant Plains Luxury Game Lodge

Contributor:  Nena Argent in collaboration with Aman Sharma

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