Reviews of Sandibe Safari Lodge
Wildlife sightings and reviews
70 independent comments and wildlife information from our travellers who have visited Sandibe Safari Lodge and kindly agreed to share their thoughts. They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa
"MY BOTSWANA: SANDIBE SAFARI LODGE"
The guide, tracker, butler and staff were helpful and friendly and made it their job to make sure everything went smoothly. As at Nxabega, I enjoyed having my personal butler who ensured I was given the food and drink that I liked and the guide and tracker made sure the drives were interesting - the hot water bottles first thing in the morning were more than welcome. On the second evening we dined out in the open around campfires with the area lit with lamps and candles; this seems to have become a Sandibe tradition.
My accommodation was more than adequate with features that I did not find of interest, e.g. the plunge pool. However the duvet was much too thick for me and there were no blankets but upon request two small blankets were placed side by side on my bed to cover it to try and make up for the omission.
Because of the increasing thick growth of water plants that the Government refused permission to thin out, mokoro poling is no longer an activity at Sandibe.
Regarding encounters with wild life: whilst lunching a vivet monkey jumped on to my table and grabbed a handful of mashed avocado before rapidly scurrying away, a hippo took a dislike to our vehicle and began to charge us and, as already mentioned on two occasions an elephant had tea with us. On our second morning drive we watched a female leopard purposely walking without being distracted and we were told she was very hungry. Towards the end of the evening drive we saw the same leopard again, purposely walking along the road without any hint of stopping but looking very tired. We were told she had been walking all day without finding food. We drove alongside her and eventually left her as she continued plodding along.
To summarise the new Sandibe: I think American Visitors would be attracted to it but to me it felt too pristine and, forgive me, modern.
" See all these reviews: 13n in Botswana
"Friendly place with luxurious rooms"
Very comfortable and spacious, though a private plunge pool with outside seating for at least 15 people seems a little excessive. Excellent and very friendly service. The guiding was outstanding, Jonas not only found everything we were hoping to see but also allowed us all the time we wanted to stay with the animals and really share what they were doing, rather than just taking a few photos and moving on.
We spent an entire, unbroken day with one leopard, our best ever wildlife experience." See all these reviews: 25n in Namibia; 8n in Botswana
"Sandibe Safair Lodge"
The bedroom was very big and comfortable, and there was a large porch with a small pool outside.
The staff and guides were outstanding. We really felt that we became friends with several." See all these reviews: 9n in Botswana
"Sandibe Safari Lodge review"
This is definitely a luxury, premier camp and was very different from the other two we stayed. It was nice to experience this level of luxury while on safari for a few nights. Guests tend to stick to themselves more than the other camps due to the private dining tables and larger facility, but the service, food, rooms, private pool, butler were just amazing! It was hard to pull myself from the beautiful room, deck overlooking the marsh, in-room massage (thank you Amy.....she is terrific), coffee and juice delivered each morning, and the surprise evening candlelight dinner on our deck to actually go on the game drives. But we did and they were wonderful.
Jonas, our guide, took great care of us.....and we spotted 6 leopards our first morning out. Our tracker was excellent also, and I regret I can not locate his name in my paperwork. Thank you to both of them for a wonderful experience. The night drives were exciting; especially coming upon a family of hyenas with puppies playing right outside their den!
This lodge should be a "must" for anyone who wants to experience luxury in the bush, along with fabulous food and great animal sightings!" See all these reviews: 9n in Botswana; 2n in Zambia
"Delightful lodge and staff"
The friendliness, helpfulness, humour and singing and dancing of the entire staff greatly enhanced the experience.
Hope the rebuilding of the camp, and its expansion with double the accommodation, doesn't change these things." See all these reviews: 8n in Botswana
"Sandibe Safari Lodge review"
Lodge was well managed by Skipper, meals were good and the room was comfortable. The lodge will close at end of 2013 for complete refurb so obviously some parts are looking a bit tired. Interesting to see the new camp." See all these reviews: 9n in Botswana; 3n in Zimbabwe
"Very friendly - an excellent camp"
The rooms were fine with all you would need including a safe and a hairdryer. There was a lovely outside deck with two loungers and a table and two chairs which overlooked the river - great for an afternoon of relaxing.
The food was excellent with perhaps too much to eat and drink but nevertheless varied and good quality. We even ate Kudu one evening.
The staff were always happy and smiling and pleased to serve you. Whilst we were there it was our anniversary and the lodge made us a surprise chocolate cake in the shape of a heart plus a bottle of bubbly in our room.
We found the game drives very interesting and saw lion and cheetah within our first hour. Had a good sighting of wild dogs and also leopard. The trackers were excellent as were the guides who drove carefully and thoughtfully with respect for the landscape and terrain.
On our last evening the lodge arranged a few surprises for all the guests, so hope you are lucky to be staying there when this happens." See all these reviews: 9n in Botswana; 3n in Zambia
"Sandibe - A Return Visit After 11 Years"
Our stay was a curates egg - excellent in parts. The management, staff and day to day organization were wonderful. The And Beyond practice of allocating guests a personal team of guide, butler and housekeeper was new to us and in camp worked brilliantly. Judy our 'butler' was just perfect. Always smiling, always there when needed and nothing was ever too much trouble. Mmaajo (?) our housekeeper was largely invisible but our room was always 'put back in order' whenever we left it for long enough! One negative aspect of the rooms is a lack of an inside shower. It was unseasonably cold and showering outside became a challenge!
The less perfect member of the team was our guide Gee. We began well enough but it became clear that he had his own agenda which seemed to be driven by an urge to track lion, leopard or dogs interminably and often resulting in anything else en route being given no more than cursory attention. Half way through our stay we were joined by another British couple who had also been taking safari holidays for many years. Gee made no attempt to find out what we wanted to do and became truculent when we made it clear that we were not interested in another fruitless hunt for a pride of lions we had already seen at length twice. On our final morning we had a different guide to take us to the airstrip via a short game drive. Gee had already been out for some hours and when our guide radioed him to ask if he had any sightings his reply was 'Yes, lots.' He made no attempt to pass on sightings or locations, most of which he had made along the route he knew we were taking. When our new guide made a remarkable siting of wild dog he immediately passed it on to Gee. He replied 'Oh yes we saw those there early this morning'!!
Gee said that he had been at Sandibe for 13 years. We suspect this is too long and he has become complacent. The major exciting sighting of a very recent lion kill was made almost entirely by luck. He and the tracker were once again out of the vehicle inspecting leopard spoor when we heard the kill take place close by in thick bush. Had we been driving we would not have heard it. Gee later attributed the sighting to his use of tracking skills and knowledge of nature. A second sighting of the same pride was also pure luck as they walked out of the bush 20 metres from where our team were changing a tyre!
This was an unhappy experience for us balanced only by the efforts of the camp management to bombard us with the most marvellous food in wonderful bush, deck and boma settings. Wilderness please note - not a single instance of tough meat at any time! Aaron and Skipper were marvellous managers but we do not favour the And Beyond practice of separate dining. We find it unnecessarily divisive.
On balance Sandibe seems to have concentrated on the hotel aspects of the experience to the detriment of the game viewing. Witness the availability of a personal butler, housekeeper, masseuse and WiFi. If they are to increase to 15 rooms they will have to address the guiding and revitalise the game drives whatever the season. We also learned that there was plenty of water to operate the electric boat but it had been discontinued/moved as it was 'too slow' and vulnerable to hippo. If the latter is true it must also be true at the camp it has been moved to? More misguided guide influence? Despite the guiding experience we loved our stay but will not return." See all these reviews: 8n in Botswana
"Sandibe Safari Lodge review"
Wildlife in the Sandibe area was excellent, we saw cheetah, many leopoards and lions - the focus of the guides was definitely on tracking the cats, even though we kept assuring them that we like relaxed game drives and are also interested in other game and birds. We do appreciate that the guides were working so hard to show us lions and leopards at every game drive in the best position for taking pictures (understanding that many other guests probably put a lot of pressure on the guides in this regard). However, we sometimes felt that the vehicles were destroying a lot of vegetation when offroading and moving so close to animals (lions and leopards) that they felt crowded and moved away.
The manager, Aron, creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere and we enjoyed our stay at Sandibe very much. We were told that the camp will be taken down and rebuilt in the course of next year, with up to 20 new tented chalets. We think that this would be far too many visitors (and cars!) in the area. Wildlife would be affected and the intimate ambiance of the camp would be lost. We believe that 8 chalets are just fine and we would not consider coming back if guest numbers were to be increased.
" See all these reviews: 16n in Botswana; 2n in Zambia
"Sandibe Safari Lodge review"
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