Going on Safari is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for most people. Seeing animals so up-close is so special and can really only be understood if you’ve experienced it. Throw in a 5-star lodge with every luxury you can possibly think of and it becomes the kind of experience you dream about long after it’s over. We were incredibly fortunate to visit the inimitable Silvan Safari in Sabi Sands Game Reserve in the Kruger National Park in South Africa in 2021.
As South Africans, we have been privileged to spend time in the bush and on game drives many times before but never has it been this special. Of course the game drives are absolutely mind-blowing and the lodge itself was stunning but what made Silvan Safari so special was the staff.
The staff at Silvan Safari
We were met by lodge manager Stefan, our game driving team Keenan and Vic and our butler, Sam. Yes. Every couple/family has their own team of staff that will take care of you during your stay. And take care of us, they did. The staff at Silvan are worth their weight in gold. I still miss Sam, his hot cappuccinos and his friendly greeting every day. We were spoiled rotten with lunches served on our private deck, perfect G&T’s poured during game drives and the staff ensuring our every need was met.
The food at Silvan Safari was a total treat. Shortly after our wake-up call and right before we departed on our first game drive of the day, the lodge staff served coffee, tea and rusks (South African dried biscuits/cookies similar to biscotti). Once we returned to the lodge Sam had a breakfast table laid out with fresh juice and pastries. Every day’s menu included something a little different. From the perfect Eggs Benedict to a full English breakfast and lighter options like yogurt and fruit, every appetite is catered for.
Because we wanted to enjoy our private villa as much as possible, we enjoyed lunch on the deck next to the pool and options included the freshest salads, poke bowls and simple pasta dishes. If you could possibly eat any more, right before the afternoon drive a full high tea was served with freshly baked cakes and treats. Dinner was served under the stars, in their gorgeous dining rooms or next to the pool, making each evening different and special in its own way.
The game drives
The activity you go on safari for is undoubtedly the game drives. Experiencing these wild animals so close, in their habitat, is something that is difficult to put into words. It’s exhilarating and terrifying at times but so unbelievably awesome. Sabi Sands is well-known for their leopard population and we were most excited to see these glorious cats up close and personal. We were not disappointed.
We saw the big 5 during our stay with leopard, lion and elephant sighting daily. Ranger Keenan and tracker Vic made it their mission to pack as much excitement into every single drive. Pointing out tiny chameleons in trees many meters away to wild orchids growing in trees and incredibly rare sightings like white-tailed mongoose, they kept us on our toes constantly.
The game drives lasted approximately 2-3 hours each and it’s amazing how much ground can be covered in that time. It helps when you have someone like Vic on your game vehicle who knows the bush so well. We were amazed how quickly he could track animals, knowing if they were pregnant, male or female and if they had injuries by simply looking at a paw print. He would often jump off the vehicle and walk into the bush stating there are lion or rhino close by. He was never wrong.
One of the most exciting sighting was a pride of lion trying to hunt buffalo. We came across the pride one evening and let me tell you, being surrounded by up to 20 lions in the pitch black of night while they try to hunt is not for the feint of heart. The buffalo were trying to protect the young and vulnerable while the lions attacked from every side. It was incredible. Unfortunately the lion weren’t successful in their attempts but it was still one of the most incredible sightings I had ever experienced.
We have had the privilege of staying in some of South Africa’s top hotels over the last 10 years but nothing has ever come close to Silvan Safari. The attention to detail, architecture and interiors are all simply stunning. The main lodge is beautifully laid-out and decorated with bright pops of colour and incredible art works displayed.
We were taken to our villa which is where the first surprise of our stay popped up. We were expecting a family room, at the most a suite. What we were met with was an entire two-bedroom villa with a private pool and deck. The main bedroom was enormous and so beautifully decorated. The furnishings and finishes were all of the highest quality and included every luxury amenity you could think of.
A fully stocked mini bar (including fresh lemons for gin and tonics) with snacks delighted our kids but the massive bathrooms were what took my breathe away. I mean, just look at it. The shower was the size of a small apartment and that view. I mean, could it get any better? We also loved the box of art supplies (including fine art paper, water colours, graphite set and pastels) and the iPad to set lighting, temperature and music in the room.
All-in-all, this was the holiday of a lifetime for us. We still talk about it weekly, dreaming of going back and it’s been almost a year later. It was such a special trip for us and we were so grateful to have spent it with our kids, giving them the opportunity to experience such incredible moments with us.
Visit Silvan Safari’s website here.
We paid for this trip in full. All opinion, words and images are my own.