Just before lockdown (I literally skidded home on Day 2 of hard lockdown) I was invited on a trip with andBeyond. So although it was the last safari I went on, it is by no means my last safari! Now that we are able to travel locally, I am plotting a trip to a collection of off-the-beaten track properties that I’ve got my eye on.
andBeyond Tengile River Lodge in the Sabi Sands
The new andBeyond property that everyone is talking about! What a wonderful lodge that has one of the most impressive entrances showcasing a truly spectacular main area once you have walked the stairs to paradise. The idea of recycling elements and bringing the outside world inside the lodge environment was well achieved and the team running this show is a well oiled machine who have obviously been doing this for many years. The cohesion of the team was very evident. Not that it was missed elsewhere. It was just very obvious here and if its going to be anywhere, Tengile is where is must be! The rooms are quite far apart which is great for privacy. A nifty golf cart is provided and a fun way to get from the communal area to your suite. I loved the boma meal and food in general was outstanding. Big shout out to the resident mixologist!! He was outstanding.
andBeyond Ngala Treehouse
Then off to Ngala Safari Lodge in the Timbavati Game Reserve. Nikki and Fanny the ranger/tracker team here were by far the highlight of our stay. Nikki shouldn’t ever do anything else but be a ranger and interact with people forever. He is passionate beyond passion and each and every sighting he “stumbles” across is as if he is seeing that animal for the first time. You cannot help but be caught up in his enthusiasm and truly enjoy the wildlife experience with him. He will be my No1 choice for families going forward. He is animated and overflows with knowledge.
White lions are unique to the Timbavati and so seeing the white lion cubs was outstanding. We also had an amazing sightings of wild dog and hyena. In fact it felt as though they were following us! Driving through the vastly different terrain for Ngala was interesting and surprising too and it is a birder’s paradise.
What a treat to be one of the first people to see the brand new Ngala Treehouse
It reminded me of my daughter’s story book – The 13 Story Treehouse by Andy Griffin
I took a video of my walk through the treehouse. Come and take a look…
&Beyond Phinda Mountain lodge
Having been to Phinda Mountain Lodge before, it was wonderful to see the “new” Mountain Lodge and lighter colouring in the rooms. The suites we were allocated were truly spacious and beautiful. I loved the outside area and pool in the suite but sadly never got to swim in the beautiful new lodge pool which probably has some of the most spectacular views of the Phinda reserve. Loved it!
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with our ranger Ross, and seeing the leopard after sitting at a lion kill on our first evening drive was truly spectacular. It was a privilege to meet Les Carlisle andBeyond’s Conservation Manager. Les was responsible for establishing the initial community relationships and development committees for andBeyond’s social development partner, Africa Foundation. He played an influential role in obtaining the legal and conservation permissions necessary for the establishment of a Big Five reserve on private land. His enthusiasm is infectious and lucky guests have the opportunity to join Les on his Impact Journeys.
Getting the opportunity to enjoy the Night Eye Experience was truly incredible! Sitting in the dark surrounded by an entire pride of lion with just the moon and the stars for light was a bit “out of my comfort zone”, but who doesn’t love an experience that gets your heart racing! Our ranger/tracker experience was outstanding with Matt & Sipho. Their enthusiasm and the way they interact as a guiding duo is infectious and such an asset. They obviously love what they do.
Just an update on SA Airlink – they are operational and adding on more flights as demand increases.
I have always found the Phinda connection inconvenient but I’m happy to confirm that Airlink have officially changed my perception about the routing and in fact it wasn’t nearly as cumbersome as I thought it would be. The change around was seamless and the pilots for each connection friendly and professional.
The flights were comfortable and I was happy to learn that the larger aircrafts are used for your lodge hop routings. Including the Airlink lounge is a huge plus and will be something I add into itineraries so that people feel even more special about the Airlink experience.
I look forward to hearing from you! To get in touch