Ivory Lodge is quite simply a magnificent property right on top of its game. It boasts breathtaking décor, luxury bedrooms of a generous size and an excellent quality of food. Intimate, romantic and utterly relaxing, Ivory also has a wonderful team of staff who will take care of your every need. It has all the facilities you'd expect from a top notch lodge as well as some added luxuries such as a wine cellar and library. Such comfort doesn't come cheap, however if you are a couple or family (with kids under the age of 13) looking for the ultimate African safari experience, then you can't go wrong.
Lion Sands Ivory Lodge is situated in the extreme south of the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve which shares an unfenced border with the Kruger National Park. It was built on the banks of the Sabie River and together with Kirkman's, it is the only lodge with access to this and the Sand River. There are daily direct flights from Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport from where you can either choose to be collected by bus or take a charter flight to Skukuza from where you'll be collected by someone from Lion Sands. Alternatively you can fly from Jo'burg to the Mala Mala airfield from where you will be collected or take a flight from Jo'burg to Skukuza and complete the journey by road. If you are coming by road from Jo'burg, leave roughly 5 hours for your journey. It will take approximately two and a quarter hours from Hoedspruit Airport and one hour from Hazyview.
Ivory Lodge, together with its sister property just 100m away, River Lodge, is located on land owned and managed by the More family for four generations, since 1933. The lodges opened in 2001 and their guests are the only ones to be able to traverse within the Lion's reserve which means a highly personalised experience. Lion Sands sponsors the Henna pre-school in the surrounding community and a visit of the facility is part of a cultural tour that guests can participate in (at extra cost).
Ivory lodge, in keeping with the rest of the camp, has a small, smart, neat reception area. At the end of the boardwalk which reaches the welcome area, you'll find a couch and a couple of leather armchairs around a carved wooden coffee table with its bowl off ostrich eggs and a selection of books. Either side are the actual reception and another office each with carvings and beautiful animal drawings. Out the other side of the reception is a path leading to the main lodge where there are several communal spaces. The magnificent lounge, which is appointed with furniture and textiles along a black and white theme, is something out of a glossy lifestyle magazine. Beautiful armchairs and sofas with footrests, delicate African carvings and shelves of books are the order of the day in this sumptuous space perfect for reading or enjoying a glass of wine from the lodge's fine cellar, in which a private wine tasting is possible, overseen by butlers who have taken the Cape wine course. There is also a humidor with fine cigars on which to chomp away as you enjoy your glass. Another area of the lodge has a well-stocked library with books and games as well as a PC for those who wish to surf the internet. Another salon, whose sliding doors give on to a deck which in turn looks out on to the bushveld, has a colour palette similar to the aforementioned lounge and has its own bar with premium alcohols and more quality furniture, as well as a working fireplace. The lodge's deck, which is used for both meals and relaxation, has been built around a mahogany tree and has a telescope for guests' use, great for spotting the many animals that wander by.
Ivory Lodge, in opposition to its sister property, River, is a private, intimate affair and therefore has no communal pool (although each room has its own on the terrace, see 'Accommodation'). While it does not dispose of its own fitness or wellness centre, guests staying here are free to use the facilities over at River for no additional cost.
The staff at the Ivory is fantastic across the board and their attention to detail is impressive. The camp enjoys some great views, although sadly none are from any great height. The whole site is kept in tip top condition and is clean and easy to navigate.
The maximum capacity of the lodge at any one time is just 13 with six sublime double suites (one of which has a sofa bed suitable for a child of 13 years or older). The rooms are divided into two distinct parts with a bedroom on one side of an outdoor (but covered) walkway and a living space on the other. The bedroom features a king bed dressed in high quality linens with an intricate motif laid out upon it using leaves. Above the bed hangs a mosquito net while at the foot of the bed is an elegant butler set just before the picture windows giving on to the bush outside. The bedside tables have a cordless telephone and lamps with chunky wooden bases, while on the walls are carvings and black and white photos. A lamp made from ostrich eggs stands in one corner of the room while up a few steps is an alcove on the wall which serves as a desk. Beyond this is the stunning bathroom boasting a free standing deep soaking tub with stylish fittings, a double vanity with large mirrors and Africology toiletries and, just outside, a magnificent outdoor shower with plenty of space for two.
The living space is just as spectacular as the bedroom, with a seating area comprising couches and armchairs and footrests around a working fire with a coffee table at the centre. Another desk with carvings sits in one corner while at the other end of the room is a coiffeuse and snack tray as well as the minibar and more storage space. You'll find a safe, bathrobes, umbrellas and anti-mosquito products in the room and outside a spacious terrace with sun loungers on the decking and a private plunge pool with views of the wilderness. Some of the finest accommodations around, these suites are almost too good to be true. Just a little piece of advice: make sure you close the sliding doors each time you go through them, otherwise (as we found out to our peril) the naughty monkeys will come in and cause havoc!
high level of priority is given to food here at the Ivory Lodge. A detailed approach is taken to each meal with the chef speaking to each couple or family privately to find out exactly what they expect from their fare and so as to be able to meet any dietary requirements. Both breakfast and lunch are taken at the lodge on the fine deck at the back of the lodge which is blessed with a great view of the bush which extends for some way. The excitement of watching animals pass by while dining is unforgettable and is not something that can be experienced at all lodges. You can of course request to have either of these meals in a private area such as your own room (where the meal will be passed through a hole in the front of your room so your discretion is not compromised) or in the dining room (which is used when the weather is not suitable to eat outside). The boma, which is situated just behind the deck, is one of the venues for dinner, while it can also be served on the deck or in the dining room. Unfortunately a bush dinner is only served every couple of weeks so not all guests are guaranteed to experience this unique sensation. Nevertheless, there is no denying that the quality of the food is very high, matched only by the service. In addition to the three main meals, a pre-morning game drive snack is served as well as treats during both of the day's drives. For an extra cost those wine fans amongst you can enjoy a private tasting session in the cellar by trained staff.