Travel Thursday 19/05/2011

“Your all-time favourite place visited”

Elephant Plains Game Lodge

A nice easy one to start with, then!

I am pretty sure that most of the possibilities I have considered will be covered in subsequent weeks of Travel Thursday as categories come up that are particularly relevant to my experiences there.

Taken as a whole, my favourite place has to be Elephant Plains Game Lodge, which is in the Sabi Sand reserve, South Africa.  It is a small, private game lodge where we spent the first half of our honeymoon in July 2005.  But why is it my favourite place of all? Here are just some of the things that make it special.

First, the name.  Both I and my wife love elephants.  You know that phrase “elephant in the room”, well we have at least one elephant in every single room of the house, either pictures, figures or something.  An African safari was always going to be our honeymoon choice, but staying at Elephant Plains just made it even better.

Second, the superb wildlife viewing.  The day we arrived, we got to the lodge during lunch.  As we walked into the dining room, we looked out of the window over the waterhole, and there were elephants.  Didn’t even have to go looking for them! The game viewing was outstanding throughout our stay. People often talk about wanting to see “the big five” (elephant, buffalo, rhino, lion, leopard), well we saw all of them several times. We never managed all five on one game drive, but I think we did on at least one day.

The exclusivity of a private reserve is also fantastic, as you can get close enough to the animals to touch them (although of course you don’t), and spend time among them, just watching and enjoying and learning about them from the expert rangers and trackers.

Third, the lodge itself.  The décor is “just kitsch enough” African safari style, but thoroughly pleasant and relaxing.

Our room was an individual chalet, excellently designed and furnished, including four-poster bed.  It had its own deck area, with sun loungers, views over the bush for independent animal spotting, and an outdoor shower – it was totally private and the only chance of being seen was by passing wildlife.

Finally, the service.  All meals are included throughout your stay and are absolutely superb.  The day begins with coffee and biscuits, first at the lodge then in the bush on morning game drive.  Breakfast is plentiful and delicious.  Lunch was the real highlight, an amazing buffet-style feast every day.  Afternoon game drive includes sundowner drinks in the middle of the bush and the dinner to round off the day is a sociable event, either in the dining room or outside with tables set around a fire, and more great dishes from the expert chefs.  The bar and lounge are a relaxing setting for chilling out and meeting people.  You can even have a log fire lit in your room while you are having dinner.  The staff are consistently friendly, helpful and dedicated, doing everything to ensure your stay is a memorable one.

All in all, a totally unforgettable African experience and the perfect way to spend the first half of our honeymoon.

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