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Middle, Luxury and Split honeymoon lodges

San Francisco...
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Middle, Luxury and Split honeymoon lodges
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Alright Safari friends, my head is officially spinning! So much information and so many amazing options for our trip.

We will be traveling for our honeymoon the first week of June 2018, and want to do 4 nights in the Kruger area, with 2 nights definitely in Sabi Sands. We are focusing on private lodges with honeymoon deals, and some stay 4/ pay 3 deals, looking for as luxurious as our budget will allow (ideally under 5k for 4 nights), while still allowing for great animal viewing. Thoughts are still all over the place so I broke them out into sections, opinions welcome on all.

Mid-Range options

Kirkmans Kamp vs. Savanna for all 4 nights- Which do you think is better?

Split options:

Trying to utilize &Beyond’s honeymoon deals to split game viewing with something a bit more luxurious. It looks like Kirkmans is great for viewing, but not for senic relaxation…So, 2 nights at Kirkmans , with the other 2 at Ngala Safari Lodge or Phina? Which one and why? Which to do first vs last? And if Phinda, which lodge?

Luxury lodges:

Ulusaba Safari vs. Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge. These are the most affordable I've found out of the high end lodges. We could do 4 nights as Ulusaba or 3 at Sabi bush camp. Is it worth spending an extra $600 to stay here, or do you think Kirkmans/ Savanna/ split options would be suffice? We are headed off to either the Seychelles or Mauritius after and would be happy to send the saved money there.

Thank you in advance for your suggestions!

Long Island, New...
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1. Re: Middle, Luxury and Split honeymoon lodges
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I don’t know what scenic relaxation is. June has the shortest days of the year so you will have pretty short times between brunch and afternoon tea/afternoon game drive. It also is longest nights so you get a good night sleep with getting up at dawn and late dinner after the pm game drive.

I’d choose Ngala Tented instead of Safari Lodge. Phinda is in KwaZulu Natal. All of the Phinda lodges are excellent, don’t agonize over which. Personally, I’d stay in the less expensive ones - the game viewing is exactly the same and the camps are all great. But I wouldn’t do it without at least 6 nights.

Check out Kambaku River Sands and Motswari Geigers. Two nice camps you might love. I’m personally not a big fan of the high end lodges. I find the over the top service uncomfortable out in the bush. The service at the mid range is excellent - even the notch below those you mentioned. If you want very exclusive but not silly, check out Ivory Riversong - just two tents, one overlooking a river. Looks beautiful.

Check out Cheetah Plains (I don’t know when they plan to reopen after major renovation), Kings, Chitwa Chitwa, Makanyi, Simbavati, Tintswalo. Dulini, though high end might work with the honeymoon discount. Though not everyone’s cup of tea, Nottens is a favorite of many.

Between Kirkmans and Savannah, I’d choose Kirkmans for location and classic lodge.

A Mala Mala/Mashatu combo might work too. MM has some of the best game viewing, combined with a gorgeous reserve in a little different ecosystem. If you have 6 nights. If 4 nights, add Mala Mala to your list. Great location and game viewing.

If just 4 nights total, I’d stay at one lodge and enjoy it to its fullest. If you want a super high end lodge, 3 nights will work fine.

I know a Sabi Sands has a great reputation, but any of the lodges mentioned will have excellent game viewing. You won’t be disappointed at any.

Congratulations!

Edited: 3 years ago
San Francisco...
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Thanks for sharing. I didn't think about the sunlight and imagined having additional hours in the day to sit out over a deck/ watering hole etc. to (hopefully) watch the wildlife from the lodge (which is what I meant by scenic relaxation).

We understand that the game viewing will be similar no matter what level of luxury you select, but I do love a beautiful lodge and can't keep my eyes away from all the ones Kruger has to offer. As for some of the other hotels you mention... Ngala tented is divine but came out to be more expensive than Ulusaba, Chitwa was sold out, Cheetah plains will no re-open in time, Mala Mala did not have our dates, and Dulini was out of budget. Many of the others I did checked out, but being that it is our first safari we are set on staying in Sabi for at least a portion after reading many reviews (unless this forum succeeds in changing my mind!).

Lastly, thank you for your input on Kirkmans vs. Savanna, and your many welcomed suggestions.

Long Island, New...
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Sold out for next June? Yikes. They are selling out early! It’s pretty cold in June. I don’t know how much time you’ll be spending in the sun. Arathusa has chalets that overlook the waterhole. I spent hours watching the wildlife (in a jacket, with a hot coffee). Senalala does too and no kids under 16.

Then Mala Mala would be my choice for sure. It was part of Sabi Sand - the biggest part - but left the marketing group to be on their own. For your wants, that’s where I’d go. Or Kirkmans.

San Francisco...
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We are leaning towards Kirkmans. Thanks again

Tempe, Arizona
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The 50% reduction for the Bride at AndBeyond properties requires a 3-night stay - and I have never asked them if it could apply to an itinerary that uses two lodges, two nights at each one. I would guess it doesn't.

I don't usually recommend Kirkman's for honeymoons - frankly - because the lodging is in duplex structures. Your room shares a common wall with the room next door. I would always suggest somewhere with more privacy than that can offer. At Ngala Safari Lodge - same situation, though the rooms are back-to-back, not side-by-side.

Look at River Lodge in the Dulini Collection. It formerly was Exeter River Lodge, and now is managed by Dulini. Good location, good lodge. It may be closed for renovation of the chalets in June, however. They re-did the main lodge this year. If available, it does offer the 50% discount for the Bride.

Idube might be a good choice, if you stay in their Leadwood Suite. No Bride discount, but still not ultra-expensive.

Not speaking here about Leadwood Lodge, which is also in the Dulini Collection, and is top-of-the budget range.

San Francisco...
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Even with the discount Dulini was unfortunately out of our budget.

In terms of Savanna vs. Kirkmans camp- Do you feel one is better than the other? Similarly, thoughts on Arathusa over these? We would save about a 1k USD by staying there instead?

Thanks,

Krista

San Francisco...
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Also to add, one person I talked to did say you could split the honeymoon rate at two lodges!

Boca Raton, Florida
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If chitwa was a top choice for you, you might consider inquiring further if they are sold out with confirmed reservations. I will be there on my honeymoon at the end of October and when booking our safari I was initially told they were full- but this wasn't actually true as at least one room must have been provisionally held, and I was able to book at chitwa a few days later as provisional booking(s) were cancelled. Some of this is just purely luck in terms of timing when you/agents happen to inquire with certain lodges, as provisional holds are made frequently by agents in multiple places and then cancelled when clients make their selection at one place.

San Francisco...
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Hi Jenna,

Good to know I will ask again- thank you!

Long Island, New...
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With the upgrades at Arathusa, maybe consider it. I loved the waterhole views from our chalet so we could watch the wildlife visit between game drives. The bush view chalets have a plunge pool but in all honesty the pool is useless during chilly June.

The websites are pretty accurate with amenities and feel of the lodges. Choose the one that fits your travel style, comfort level and budget.

I know Sabi Sand has the reputation but one of our regulars here loves Senalala. Look for her review. It has everything you seem to want. Wildlife viewing is excellent and has one of the best rangers in the business.

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