Location: Sabi Sand, Kruger National Park
No of Rooms: Eight suites.
One-Stop Reason to Go: This isn’t simply a holiday; it’s a glimpse into the real life of Africa.
Leopard Hills, built on a hill overlooking a natural waterhole and close to the perennial Sand River, traverses over 10,000 hectares of the world-renowned Sabi Sand Game Reserve, which forms part of the greater Kruger National Park ecosystem. Guests may have the opportunity to catch sight of the reserve’s namesake, the leopard hunting near the waterhole or watch hippo wallow in the river; crocodile bask on a quiet, sandy bank while overhead, majestic eagles keep watch. True to the South African Safari experience, many species of antelope pass by within view of the lodge while in the reserve, Africa’s big game abounds – guests may see prides of lion, herds of elephant, white rhino, buffalo and many more.
Each of the eight luxurious glass-fronted suites, complete with their own sundeck and rock plunge pool offer superb views of the African bushveld beyond. The suites are generously spacious with air-conditioning and overhead fans providing welcome respite against the harsh African heat. The breathtaking romantic bathrooms, which include double indoor and outdoor showers, have windows, which open to a glorious view of the passing cavalcade below. Whilst a special touch to each suite are the final touches provided, from weather notes and African poems, to a fine array of bath salts and other bathroom amenities. An inviting lounge with breathtaking views out over the bush and beyond creates the ideal setting to relax with a book or while away the afternoon with a pair of binoculars.
Guests can either enjoy the privacy of their suite or savour the day in their hammock or in their private pool or head back to the main camp where they will be spoilt by the highest standards. The staff’s utter dedication and pure passion to pleasing each guest according to his or her needs is prevalent in every aspect of the lodge, and particularly the central area.
The bar and lounge entices every guest to a pre or post-dinner drink – mixed by the barman using the finest ingredients – and fireside chat with your friendly ranger. A nightcap of the finest whiskey, port or South African amarula would be the perfect way to the end off a perfect day.
The dining area consists of two heavy-set mahogany tables, offering ample space and comfort while enjoying the most decadent of dining one could imagine. The esteemed wine cellar underneath the dining room is a treat for the avid wine connoisseur, as well as the learning amateur, and is brimming with racks of celebrated local wines.
The traditional Shangaan boma is used on alternate nights, and is a truly memorable way to experience an evening under the African night sky. Fine cuisine and wines can be sampled while sitting near a warm crackling fire. On arrival at the boma through a path of flaming torches, guests will be welcomed by their ranger, who will greet them with a drink and a pre-dinner appetizer, before meeting around the fire to tell of exciting adventures had on the game drive that afternoon. Guest’s tables are complemented by candles and rustic hurricane lamps, which complete the full experience of true African dining.
Cuisine Head Chef’s, Jessie Fourie and Shane Johnson, ensure that every meal at Leopard Hills becomes a special occasion, preparing fresh, wholesome and honest cuisine. From breakfast, lunch to dinner, Jessie, Shane and their team serve dishes of unparalleled proportions. Guests will experience “soul food” full of decadent flavours from around the world, finishing with a touch of Africa in every meal.
From a full English or Continental breakfast on the main deck after an early morning game drive or a lunch enjoyed in the shade of the umbrellas and the cool breeze coming up fro the veld, dining at Leopard Hills is an experience.
Leopard Hill’s Wellness Centre Spa has proved very popular among guests with an array of massage treatments on offer in the glass-fronted sala, which has a spectacular vantage point off the main pool deck, offering absolute privacy and spectacular views. One of the highlights of every guests stay at Leopard Hills Private Game Reserve is the array of bush treatments on offer. Treatments are performed either in the newly developed sala or in the comfort of the guests’ suites.
Naturally, there is an infinite amount of things to do whilst staying at Leopard Hills from walking safaris which take place after breakfast and offer guests the ‘finer’ aspects of the bushveld with knowledge on the smaller flora and fauna species which are still an integral part of the Kruger ecosystem; to the photography trips where rangers with exceptional photographic skills will assist guests in taking some truly memorable images. Helicopter flights are available where guests can swoop over deep and mysterious gorges, linger above roaring rivers and cascading waterfalls, and view the fascinating and dramatic rock formations of the Blyde River Canyon. Cultural tours are also on offer where those with a passion for Africa and an interest in its diverse and spontaneous culture can visit the local village.
For the last two years, Leopard Hills has undertaken the responsibility of looking after a day care centre/crèche for under privileged children and orphans. Through the help and support of their guests, they have been able to raise enough funding to build a new facility in the local village. Through additional donations of books, clothing, writing materials and blankets, they have gone a long way to improving the lives of these children, who have so little in life. Leopard Hills continues to supply all its excess food to the centre, and through additional donations, they are aiming to continually make a difference. Leopard Hills has also formed a small junior school on the premises, providing managers and staff throughout the Sabi Sand Reserve the opportunity to provide their children with an education matching the high standards of top South African schools and colleges. This school has proved to be highly popular amongst families residing in the reserve. Children have the opportunity of gaining a top education whilst growing up in the unique bushveld that surrounds them.
Duncan and Louise Rodgers, General Managers of Leopard Hills, have endorsed their loyalty to the lodge through their ultimate dedication to making every guest’s visit an experience of unsurpassed luxury. Duncan and Louise have been in the game lodge industry for the last 20 years, and believe that Leopard Hills is by far the best camp they have ever had the privilege of being associated with, not only for its location and facilities, but most of all for the amazing staff and owners associated with this place.
A stay at Leopard Hills isn’t merely a holiday; it is a window into a way of life.