When I was asked to go on an educational to Leopard Hills in Sabi Sands, I just knew I was in for a goodie!
It was a 3am start as I set off to Cape Town airport to catch a quick flight to Johannesburg. After meeting up with our group, we headed off to the Federal Air lounge for a quick cappuccino before boarding our 19 seater (EEK!) to Sabi Sands Reserve in the Kruger National Park. Within just under 2 hours we landed at the Ulusaba airstrip where we were met by rangers Hugo & Nigel from Leopard Hills who escorted us to the lodge. It took approximately 15 minutes.
Being met on arrival by the Operations Director (Duncan), his wife Lou (Louise) and their eldest daughter Megan made our welcome that much more personal. We indulged in a glass of wine (of course!) in the spacious and luxurious welcome lounge before being shown to our rooms where we had a while to freshen up before enjoying lunch on the outside deck overlooking the waterhole (which included its resident Hippo).
The lodge comprises of 8 luxurious suites all with private plunge pools and outdoor showers. The décor in the newly refurbed suites is modern and elegant using natural greys with splashes of colour. Toiletries, gowns, slippers, aircon/heating are provided and the beds and pillows (a choice of) are incredibly comfy. The mini bar is fully stocked and snacks are replenished daily.
The main lodge is spacious and opens out onto a wooden deck overlooking a waterhole. There is a lower deck which has a pool with sun loungers and a small gym (The Jungle Gym) and spa.
Dining at Leopard Hills was always enjoyable – from the banter, the food, the wine and not forgetting the dozens of cheeky monkeys swooping down from the treetops to try and grab a quick bite! The food from start to finish was outstanding – possibly some of the best meals I’ve experienced. From boma dinner braais to champagne breakfasts under the trees in the middle of bush, we were never disappointed. Well done chef!
All of our game drives were with Nigel, who was incredibly informative and knowledgeable throughout. With the help of our tracker, we were able to locate a pride of lions on our first evening! Although the absolute game drive highlight was on the second afternoon when we came across 2 of the resident leopards mating – I never ever thought this would be something I would experience outside of National Geographic Wild! We were also spoilt with witnessing a herd of elephants enjoying a few gulps of water from the swimming pool. As far as game drives go, we were fortunate enough to tick off the ‘Big 5’ as well as much, much more.
I’ve been lucky enough to stay in many great hotels and lodges, but this has been my favourite place and I hope I get to visit it again one day.