02/16/2011 12:35 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

What's Worth It: Royal Malewane Safari Lodge in South Africa

2011-02-16-royalmalewane.jpgRoyal Malewane

"Promise: This is a once-in-a-lifetime type of safari experience. There are plenty of amazing lodges in South Africa -- I've been to a handful! Royal Malewane should be on your list. Intimate, run with loving care of an attentive owner; both the perfect safari-style chic and the laid back tasteful vibe make it one of the world's very top lodges. Staff, food, services & amenities couldn't be better -- you'll not want to leave."
-- Suzanne (Date Experienced: November, 2008)

2011-02-16-royalmalewane2.jpgGreat for
Your first, 5th or 12th safari-lodge experience with the Big Five.

With whom
Bring your kids (teens) who will love the nearby Lion conservation camp and you'll all appreciate the lap pool. A unique feature for a camp. The private suites and general grown-up chic ambience are also perfectly romantic -- an incredible honeymoon or special celebration.

Memorable moment
Being 'warned' by the largest elephant bull in the region... So many WOW experiences -- particularly tracking two lions right into the bush with super knowledgeable and experienced guide, Craig.

Best time to go
November through April for best weather and game-viewing

Be aware
...that you'll be spoiled and gain a few pounds!


Room options
Just eight super-private, free-standing suites decked out in polished bush style with every conceivable comfort: Mahogany four poster beds, crisp white sheets and soft furnishings, fireplaces lit nightly, limestone bathrooms and HUGE windows. Each suite also has a private pool so you can cool down after a long and dusty day. (Monkeys come to your windows and doors.)

Service & vibe
Every single member of staff is absolutely passionate about their environment, their jobs and ensuring that all guests feel taken care of. There's a real family atmosphere -- but it in no way detracts from the quality and level of service. A joy to visit and be a part of. All guides and trackers are trained to the highest standard and many are also award-winning photographers -- handy!

A formal/laid back affair in the main dining room, or get to know your fellow guests and compare stories around the campfire. Whichever you choose, you'll be treated to delicious, fresh, innovative cuisine and top South African wines.

Price range
From $1380 per person, inclusive of all meals, local beverages, game drives and laundry

Experience it

To do & see
Wildlife, animals, fauna -- whatever you want to call it, that's what you're here for. SO varied: not just the big five (who are all present and correct), the rangers are so hawk-eyed that they will also point out tiny birds and reptiles that you would otherwise miss. An immersive experience. For an alternate view, take a hot air balloon early one morning, or head into the bush on elephant or horseback.

Sport & Activity
There is a small, glass-enclosed gym (safari at all times!) and a lap pool -- when you're not on a drive or resting they are both great amenities. The hotel arranges golf at the 18 hole Hans Meretsky Golf Estate, where giraffes wander the greens.

Spa & Grooming
Treatment rooms set around the pool, offering a comprehensive spa menu that merges African elements and western technique. A nice touch for those who enjoy to be pampered after a long day -- or who like an alternative to sitting around when not out viewing game.

Location & Reservations

Royal Malewane is situated on the private Thorny Bush nature reserve adjacent to Kruger National Park.
Fly from Johannesburg or Cape Town to Royal Malewane's private airstrip, where you will be met by staff and transported to the resort via open-top Landrover -- well, you wouldn't want to miss anything on the way!

+27 (0)15 793 0150
General Manager: John Jackson
Head Guide: Juan Pinto