In the bush, off the beaten track, wild and exotic intimacy exists in six exclusive luxury suites at Ivory Lodge, Lion Sands. Each is placed with exaggerated care so as to seem totally isolated and completely private. Thatch tops glass walls that bring outside in and ensure uninterrupted views of fertile untamed riverine vegetation. Set in the private reserve of the Sabi Sands in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa and bordering world-renowned Kruger National Park.
On arrival, we are greeted with a sincere and personal welcome from the lodge manager and a refreshing iced beverage (and a damp hand towel to wipe away the dust from the drive and possibly the memories of frantic civilization); we are directed along raised wooden walkways to the main dining and reclining area. There the activities and dining options are explained to us and we are introduced to our private butler, Solly, whom he assures us with wide open smile, will make our every need his singular pleasure. As we discuss the weather (a necessary topic of conversation in all polite African discourses), and what the next few days might bring, Solly points out across the river. There he indicates to us the slow and deliberate path of a loan bull elephant making his way down the rise and toward the river in front of us. We marvel at this enormous beast and his lazy yet purposeful movement as he tests and tastes each tree and shrub in his path. So quiet as to be almost unheard.
As our luggage is taken to our room we are given a private tour of the Lodge’s wine cellar. A small but exceedingly well stocked cellar built beneath the main lodge and set deep into the side of the valley. It is climate controlled and this is enhanced by the surrounding dense deep riverine shade.
Our suite is ready and we are led with dignified ceremony towards oversized double wooden doors, beautifully carved and decorated, and as these are thrown open for us, stand in awe. In front of us stretches all the magnificence of the African bush, right at the edge of our own private infinity pool!
To our left and right are glass walls, behind one, a generous 4 poster bed delicately canopied in snowy white gauze, and the other houses our private lounge and dining area. All the furnishings are in crisp white and neutral tones with accents of dark wood – nothing competes with the scenery. At the bottom of the huge king bed is an enormous double paned sliding window giving uninterrupted views of the sand river and surrounding bush. Suddenly those photographs one sees in travel magazines of folk immersed in their private plunge pools gazing out over the bush with wild game in the background, don’t seem so staged!
The bedroom is completely open-plan separated by clever use of half walls and steps leading to different levels. The wash basins and vanity are on a level above the bed and the bath behind that. The bath is a marvel. A huge white ceramic bowl perched on a spotless floor with large fluffy white towels and enough bubble bath to seduce the most ardent shower taker. Hard to do when on the other side of the glass doors is a private sun-filled courtyard with an outdoor shower as its centre-piece! Wherever you are there is a view outside and yet nowhere can I see another person or habitation. We feel completely on our own and yet completely safe enclosed in our luxurious glass and thatch home.