Sandibe Safari Lodge: Our full report
Adjacent to the Moremi Game Reserve, Sandibe Safari Lodge stands among towering stands of palm trees, thick riverine vegetation and several huge old baobabs. It's a lovely mix of forested areas interspersed with floodplains and permanent deep-water channels. The lodge was closed in late 2013, demolished and fully rebuilt, reopening in September 2014. A member of the Expert Africa team is yet to stay at the newly reopened lodge, however we know the area well and with its impressive track record of great game viewing it is a lodge we are very happy to have open again! We will, of course, re-visit the new lodge in the near future, and update this review with our own personal experience. In the meantime here are some details of the new lodge, as we understand it;
The new structures at Sandibe Safari Lodge are significantly different from the lodge they have replaced. The owners describe it as their new flagship camp in Botswana – with the aims of a much more luxurious, albeit much more environmentally efficient camp.
The main lounge and dining area is an elongated multi level structure, open faced, and covered by a large curved rooftop – described as being a bit like an inverted wooden ships hull. Light wooden tones dominate in both the buildings structure and the décor.
Within this large structure to one side up a series of stairs sits the bar and a lounge area with comfortable seating and a fireplace for those chilly evenings. This leads out along a wooden deck to a raised outdoor seating area with a number of tables and chairs.
Centrally closer to ground level is the main dining area, a large open space by all accounts, also with another smaller lounge area and various comfortable seating areas. The deck extends out beyond the roof allowing for dining under the stars, or in cooler or wetter weather the table can be brought in under cover. To the other side at ground level sits a sandy boma area with comfortable deck chairs.
As at its sister camp, Nxabega Safari Camp, WiFi access is provided in the main guest area.
A separate structure houses a massage sala with views out across the landscape as well as a small gym. In the main area there is also a curio shop.
There are currently eight suites with four more to open in early 2015. Each suite is elevated allowing for views across the landscape and connected to the main area by sandy pathways. The suites are vast with a sizeable multi level wooden deck, on which a private plunge pool, private sala area and daybed overlooks the surrounding reeds and beyond. Like the main area, the suites are decorated in light wooden tones.
Inside there is a walk in dressing room, en-suite bathroom with copper trimmings and twin basins, and a small seating area. In the centre of the room, beneath a mosquito net, the bed appears to be positioned to make the most of the views. We are told that all the rooms have a safe, charging facilities and hair dryer.
In our experience, the wildlife in the area around Sandibe has generally been very good; with red lechwe, impala, tsessebe, kudu, zebra, wildebeest and plenty of giraffe. Buffalo and elephant are permanent residents. Lion and leopard are the dominant predators, but cheetah and hyena are not uncommon.
Activities, are land-based at Sandibe and include 4WD game drives (day and night), as well as bush walks. Guides are accompanied by trackers, which can improve the chance of seeing the more elusive creatures, particularly on spotlit night drives.
On past visits to Sandibe, we felt that the team was friendly and helpful, and made sure we were very well looked after. We're told that many of the same team members have returned to the newly built lodge and we have hopes of equally attentive standards of service.
Our viewFor many years Sandibe Safari Lodge has been a substantial lodge by Botswana's standards, the guiding here has been great, and the staff very attentive. The concession Sandibe is situated in also has an impressive track record game viewing and we have every expectation the new lodge and it’s staff, most whom have worked at Sandibe for many years will continue to make this camp a great choice for those wanting a great game viewing experience – if somewhat more luxurious!
Ideal length of stay: We’d recommend three nights at Sandibe Safari Lodge.
Directions: Guests fly into Chitabe airstrip, from where the game-drive transfer to Sandibe takes approximately half an hour.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: & Beyond (formerly CC Africa)
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The food at Sandibe in the past has been excellent – well presented, varied and really tasty. While we are yet to stay at the newly built lodge we don’t expect things to have change and expect that the food offerings will continue to be delicious. Below is an example the lodge has sent us of a recent menu from the camp;
A light breakfast of toast, freshly cooked muffins, fresh and stewed fruit, cereal, porridge and oatmeal, and fresh pastries along with tea and coffee, is served prior to your early morning game activity. There is also the opportunity to order eggs at the omelette station.
Brunch is offered upon return from the morning game drive. Guests can expect a variety of hot dishes such as beef rib-eye, grilled marinated chicken fillets or grilled fish (as well as an vegetarian option) and served with dishes such as chargrilled halloumi and chunky guacamole, roast vegetables or tabbouleh. A variety of salads are also on offer. To finish homemade chocolate, coffee or coconut ice cream is served.
Afternoon tea is served at just before the afternoon activity with a savoury snack, refreshing iced tea, and a freshly baked cake or pie. Such as dark chocolate cupcakes with ganache, choux doughnuts, and scones with jam and cream. Alongside tortillas and tapenade and olive and rosemary savoury sticks with dip.
Dinner is a three course affair such as sweet potato bread served with red lentil and coriander coconut soup. For main meal butterflied leg of lamb or marinated chicken with spicy pesto mayonnaise and yoghurt, cous cous, roast butternut, broccoli and red onion. For pudding a pavlova with fruit, fresh coffee and liqueurs.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Bottled water, soft drinks, local beers and spirits and a limited selection of (usually) South African red and white wines are included. Champagne and imported 'premium' wines and spirits cost extra and may need to be requested in advance.
Further dining info: Private dining can be set up on the deck.
Wildlife safaris: Sandibe is situated in an excellent area for consistent big game viewing. A variety of predators are regularly seen, alongside a good variety of plains game. Definitely a camp to consider for those wanting a good year round game viewing!See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Botswana
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at Sandibe although with restrictions. Children under the age of 5 are not able to participate in any activities. Children 6 to 11 years can participate in game drives only at the lodge manager’s discretion. Children of 12 years of age are able to participate in game drives, and for those 16 years and above are allowed to participate in nature walks.
Equipment: Child minding is available at an extra cost, however it must be noted that staff are not professionally trained child minders.
Generally recommended for children: Recommended for children of 12 years and over.
Notes: Sandibe is very open with dangerous wildlife in the area, the camp suites are elevated off the ground and the plunge pools are unfenced. There is also open water surrounding the camp. An adult must supervise children at all times.
Power supply: Combination of power
Power supply notes: During the day the lodge is run on solar with a back up battery is used in the evening, giving 24-hour power. For days of low sunlight a back up generator is used.
Communications: There is no mobile reception and no direct phone or fax. Wifi is available in the main guest area. In an emergency radio contact can be made with the main office in Maun.
TV & radio: No television or radio.
Water supply: Borehole
Water supply notes: All the suites have plumbed hot and cold running water for showers as well as flush toilets. Each room is also provided with glasses and a flask of filtered drinking water.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: In our experience most of the camp managers are first-aid trained and a comprehensive first-aid kit is kept at camp. In an emergency, the camp can arrange for clients to be flown out.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Because of the Okavango's large population of dangerous game, and the fact that Sandibe Safari Lodge is unfenced, guests are escorted to their rooms after dark. Alarms, sirens or whistles are provided in the rooms in case of an emergency.
Fire safety: There are extinguishers on the balconies of all rooms. There is no fire drill as such.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is included.
Money: No exchange facilities are offered. There are safe deposit boxes in the rooms.
Accepted payment on location: Mastercard and Visa credit cards are accepted. Diners and Amex are not, and nor are debit cards. £, $, Euros and Botswana Pula are accepted.