A night of sleeping under the stars where lions, rhinos and elephants walk unhindered seems more like an attempt exceeded by the hero of an adventure novel than a holiday story. However, Lion Sands Reserve offers everyone the chance of living safely such an experience, in one of the wildest areas in South Africa.
In 1993, Guy Aubrey Chalkley, an American entrepreneur passionate about hunting, was camping somewhere in the Sabi Sand Reserve in the Kruger National Park. Overwhelmed by the beauty of the nature on the banks of the Sabie River, on the eastern side of Africa, which is said that is always approached with respect by both people and animals, Guy Chalkley has given up hunting and settled in Africa.
He raised his two children in the reservation and he dedicated his entire life to protect it, by building a cottage to permit him to be always close to the nature and animals. The old house of the entrepreneur was later converted into a resort by his niece and her husband.
Today, the 3000 acres area hosts three cottages where tourists can accommodate – Ivory Lodge, River Lodge, 1933 Lodge – and the platform in the tree where Chalkley used to stay at night and was later transformed into a cozy outdoor bedroom. The beauty and the diversity of flora and fauna from the reservation are in the care of a full time employee, who keeps the place as it was found in the beginning of the last century.
Lion Sands Ivory Lodge is an elegant combination of African and European elements. In fact, Ivory Lodge is composed of six five-star villas located at a safe distance from each other to provide complete privacy to the occupants. Each of the suites has a 165 sqm yard, a lounge with a fireplace and private pool. From the private terrace or through the large windows, guests can admire the elephants and the zebras in Sabie River Valley.
Perfect for families or larger groups, 1933 Lodge is, in fact, the vacation home of the More brothers, the owners of the complex and the grandchildren of Guy Chalkley. The chalet was built in 2007 in the horror of Chalkley, in the place where he wrote the book Desert Pool, which describes his experience with his children at Lion Sands.
1933 Lodge has four double rooms and a room where can sleeps up to 8 children and the guests can call at any time the cook or the guide.
However, the most spectacular place in which you can spend the night at Lion Sands is the tree house built by Guy Aubrey Chalkley himself, to sleep away from the wild animals. Transformed into a five-star bedroom, the platform offers all the usual facilities of a hotel room. The guests, brought here at sunset, are welcomed with drinks and dinner, and then left alone in the wild until morning. When the sun rises, a forester takes the tourists in the first safari of the day, followed by breakfast.
From the courses held by the environmentalists of the resort, to safaris where you can see the lions, the Nile crocodiles, hippos or rhinos, almost all activities at Lion Sands are focused around the natural landscape of the area.
Among the activities conducted by the guides from Lion Sands, guests can dine in the nature or discover many things about the African folklore. Moreover, for an additional fee, tourists may play golf – in the national park, where they can be interrupted at any time by a zebra, for example, or can take a ride by hot air balloon or by helicopter.