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  • travel with carlo

safari | lion sands tinga lodge | south africa - magical encounters await in the land of lions

Tinga lodge evening dining

up close & personal with africa's big five

i have had the privilege to go on safari many times but never during the spring when many of these majestic creatures give birth to their young. never before have i seen up close the playful nature of the youngsters before most of them grow up to be incredibly powerful animals. from baby elephants rolling in the mud to lion cubs play fighting close to their mother after a recent impala kill, i genuinely believe this is the most magical time of the year to go on safari.

perched high up on the banks of the sabie river, the lion sands tinga lodge is a super exclusive accommodation that offers guests an unparalleled ultra-luxury experience. the design of the lodge takes you back to the days of the pioneers, thatched roofs & beautifully stained woods give a sense of wonder, a sense that you are truly stepping back in time.

with only nine private suites the lodge gives a sense of seclusion & privacy where you can be at one with the sights & sounds of nature while getting up close & personal to the local wildlife that call this magical place home.


the private suites give a sense of seclusion & privacy that is hard to find at the larger lodges in the area. suite no.3 was my home for a few days, the spacious master suite with its king bed, writing bureau & elegant furniture that harkens back to colonial times along with a craft bar, full to the brim with premium libations made for an authentic pioneer experience. the large glass sliding doors open out onto an elevated terrace with a private plunge pool & dining area.

off the master bedroom, you'll find a lavish bathroom fitted with his & her vanity, a double shower & a free-standing bathtub with fantastic views over the river & beyond if you're lucky you can catch a glimpse of an elephant herd heading down to the river for a drink.

Tinga Lodge Main

the lodge

the elegant open-air main lodge gives ‘out of africa’ era vibes that sets the tone for the duration of the stay.

as the main meeting point for game drives the vaulted ceiling funnels the fresh air through keeping everyone cool even in the extreme temperatures of the afternoon. super comfy leather seating & an old-world bar complete with the finest libations make for an awesome place to meet fellow travellers sharing stories from the days game drives.

as you step out from under the thatched roof you are taken aback by what has to be the standout feature of the lodge, a gigantic marula tree that shades the dining terrace overlooking the sabie river.

during the evenings the terrace is transformed with antique lanterns into an enchanting scene that is straight out of a disney fairy tale. the amber glow of the lanterns pierce through the darkness of the african night to reveal a dining experience like no other. cuisine at the lodge would not be out of place in a michelin starred restaurant. from perfectly cooked kudu steaks to fish tacos & innovative vegetarian offerings, the chefs here are on point with what modern diners are seeking.

both the terrace & main pool look out over the sabie river where local wildlife from elephants to buffalo come to drink after the extreme heat of the day subsides. lunchtimes are particularly interesting as you can spot the resident crocodile in hunting mode although i never got to see him make a kill.

out on safari

the exclusiveness of the lion sands game reserve offers one a sense of exclusivity that cannot be replicated in a national park setting. the reserve is only used by the private lodges in the area, this gives a sense that you have the reserve all to yourself. most of the time you won't see another vehicle on the game drives as the guides take different routes to maintain a sense of privateness. you'll also have the opportunity to go off-road to get up close to the animals, something that cannot be done in the national parks.

we ventured out every day at 6 am for the morning game drive & 3 pm for the afternoon drive. after the afternoon drive we always stopped for an aperitif in the wilderness, one time to the background track of a lion roaring.

november is a great time of year to visit if you want to see newborns from baby elephants to lion cubs & giraffe's only a few weeks old you'll get to see the playful side of these animals. one game drive we spotted a lioness with three cubs playing with each other, once they spotted the vehicle it seemed as if they were taking turns to get up the courage to approach us. it is hard to believe these super cute cubs grow up to be ferocious predators.

on my last evening drive, i had the privilege of embarking on a game walk with herman (my guide) & kruger (my tracker). getting out of the vehicle to explore the savanna on foot gives one a totally different perspective. we came across a rhino wallowing in the mud, on foot we were able to get so much closer it was absolutely exhilarating. later, we ambled along the river taking in the breathtaking scenery at sunset passing a bloat of hippopotamuses, crocs & a troop of monkeys that seemed to be fighting to the death. finally, we watched as the sun went down & the sky changed colour to a dazzling shade of purple with an amarula in hand, a perfect end to my adventure.

MJF charity foundation tea picker

community & conservation credentials

lion sands tinga lodge is part of the more family collection of luxury lodges that empowers local communities through the more community foundation. the foundation’s purpose is to give long-term, meaningful assistance to the communities in which MORE operates & to empower local people.

rooms from: $1500 | book here



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country travel tips

atm: most banks offer withdrawals for ($3). don't accept the on-screen conversion.

sim card: vodacom. 5GB is ($30) for 30 days. got an e-sim enabled phone, try airalo.

transport: hotel transfers & tours companies are the safest & easiest.

taxi: uber? use promo: carlm5078ue for free ride.

accommodation: get ($20) off your first reservation here


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