South Africa News
Newmark Hotels has been awarded the contract for the 46-apartment hotel that will take up 2 of the 15-stories that make up Hallmark House in the exciting Maboneng precinct in downtown Johannesburg. The hotel will offer unparalleled 360 degree views of the dynamic Jo'burg city skyline and is due to open in September 2016.  For the full story visit
Published in News
35 years ago at the inception of Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve, a magnificent elephant bull roamed the reserve. With massive tusks and always surrounded by Askari (soldiers) - a group of up to 12 protective, strong and sometimes very aggressive young males - the elephant was called Mandleve, a Tsonga nickname for the tear in his ear. Mandleve was truly unmistakeable, with two massive tusks, one very long and fairly straight, and the other about the same length, but distinctly curved. Mandleve spent his years crossing the river between Sabi Sabi and the Kruger National Park, but as he grew older he spent most of his days at Sabi Sabi, eating the soft vegetation alongside the river. When he slept he rested his enormous curved tusk in the crook of a tree trunk, relieving the huge weight he constantly carried. A beautiful, gentle and patient elephant, Mandleve died in 1992 close to his beloved Sabie River. He was deeply mourned by the staff at Sabi Sabi who had watched and followed him over the years, as well as by the many guests who had the honour of viewing him on safari. His tusks which are on display at the Letaba Elephant Museum, were measured at 69 and 73.5 kgs apiece, the heaviest ivory on record at Kruger.

As a tribute to this magnificent elephant, the spectacular newly refurbished Presidential Suite at Sabi Sabi's Bush Lodge is named the Mandleve Suite. A fitting name for a truly exceptional and memorable accommodation experience. With huge rooms looking out onto the bushveld, the suite is, quite simply, stunning. Raw tree trunks support the interior walls and add a fascinating touch of the bushveld to the décor.

Chandeliers alongside the draped bed illuminate the expansive bedroom with its beautiful carved wooden furniture. The vast, surprisingly furnished and stylish bathroom has a temptingly deep bathtub, and includes both indoor and outdoor showers. A glorious lounge with plush chaise longues, handcrafted fixtures and furnishings and interesting artifacts, extends out to a relaxing covered patio and private pool. This is a definitely a suite to remember. And, of course, a private safari vehicle with personal guide and tracker complete the Mandleve Suite experience.

For those who desire only the very best, The Mandleve Presidential Suite and recently opened Villas are sensational additions to Bush Lodge's 5 star luxury accommodation.

Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve
Reservations: +27 11 447 7172
Fax: +27 11 442 0728
Published in News
Wednesday, 09 September 2015 15:37

The Blue Train Partners Sun International

Transnet's iconic BLUE TRAIN, which celebrates its 70th birthday next year, has this week signed an innovative partnership agreement with leading African hotel brand SUN INTERNATIONAL.

This 18-month pilot partnership is aimed at repositioning "Africa's Leading Luxury Train" at the centre of the global tourism market, adapting to growing competition and recapitalising, which may include the building of new state-of-the-art train sets and the development of new routes.

The partnership agreement was signed by Thulani Nzima, CEO of SA Tourism, Graeme Stephens, Chief Executive of Sun International, and Siyabonga Gama, Group Chief Executive of Transnet on 8 September 2015 at Pretoria Station.

Sun International's SunLux Collection properties include The Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town, The Maslow Hotel in Johannesburg, The Palace of the Lost City at Sun City and The Royal Livingstone at Victoria Falls - all of which are accessible by rail.

The award-winning Blue Train, which offers five-star accommodation, fine dining and personalised service, is a unique way of exploring Southern Africa's landscapes and landmarks on rail. The Blue Train has been synonymous with luxury rail travel and tourism since 1946 and enjoys an international reputation as one of the world's true luxury, heritage rail experiences.

To watch the full announcement on video please visit
Published in News
Herbert Prinsloo has been working for The Blue Train for more than 25 years and lists the honour of being butler to Nelson Mandela among his career highlights.  We interview the popular Train Manager to find out more about the man behind the scenes …
Published in News
Friday, 12 June 2015 17:32

Sabi Sabi Wine List Gets the Nod

Well known for the exceptional wine collections in each of its four lodges, Sabi Sabi is proud to be the only such establishment recognised by The World of Fine Wine Magazine as having one of the best wine lists in the world. This is a highly acclaimed publication targeting an international following of discerning individuals who each share a passion for wine. The well-known judges are some of the world's most renowned wine experts, writers and sommeliers, whose directive it is to acknowledge and make annual awards celebrating innovation and creativity in wine lists from far and wide. Kudos to Sabi Sabi for being the only lodge deemed worthy of being on the winner's list, earning one prestigious star for the depth, interest, and quality of its wine selection. All the other winners are top restaurants around the world.

Great thought, care and expertise came into play when designing the Lodges' wine lists which feature local and international wines, as well as wines from boutique estates and little-known vineyards. The selection, which varies from lodge to lodge, takes into account the bushveld setting, menu and climate.

In 2010, Sabi Sabi appointed the Stellenrust winery as the estate of choice for its house wine. Situated in the well-known Stellenbosch area of South Africa, an area from which many award wines originate, Stellenrust produces magnificent wines. During 2012, 300 litres of Stellenrust wines in huge oak wine barrels were housed in Earth Lodge's 6000-bottle cellar, waiting for the perfect time to be enjoyed. The estate vintner has already pronounced the wines - a Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz - as exceptional.

Eric Chavot, whose renowned Brasserie restaurant in London was also one of the award winners, visited Sabi Sabi in February, spending time in its kitchens with the executive chefs sharing ideas and providing valuable insight gained from his years in the industry and particularly his current Michelin-starred restaurant. Pairing wine with food was an integral part of the training and he plans to return in August for an ongoing culinary partnership.

There are many occasions to enjoy a delicious glass of wine while visiting Sabi Sabi. A light white or rosé with an al fresco lunch, chardonnay for sundowners in the bush, an award-winning red with a boma dinner. Whatever the choice the wine is sure to be exceptional.

Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve
Reservations: +27 11 447 7172
Fax: +27 11 442 0728
Published in News
Bush Lodge has long been known as a premier safari destination. Over the years the lodge has been evolving, renewing its exquisite African Style architecture and décor, rebuilding its guest accommodation to remain a magnificent luxury home in the bush.

As an extension of the philosophy of providing the ultimate in luxury, Sabi Sabi is proud to unveil the Bush Lodge Luxury Villas - lavish accommodation which includes 2 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, lounge, library, dressing room, patio and pool.

The two new Luxury Villas will become available next month, offering the epitome of opulence, space and magnificent design. The Villas are extraordinarily expansive, architecturally interesting and beautifully decorated in the eclectic Bush Lodge style.

Every detail of the new suites has been carefully planned to make guests feel spoiled and at one with the bushveld, while enjoying the highest standard of accommodation and service. They are indeed a superlative base for a memorable safari.

Within each suite a huge master bedroom with king size draped four-poster bed leads into a dressing area furnished with hide covered chairs and ottomans. A little further and one steps into a truly unique, palatial, floor to ceiling glass walled bathroom. The two enormous side-by-side baths have sliding windows opening to the outdoors. His and hers vanities, armchairs and an open 'rain' shower complete this incomparable room. But there is even more: an outside al-fresco shower, almost invisible, tucked away in an indigenous tree.

The second bedroom is also beautiful, with twin draped beds and comfortable cushioned window box seating to relax and watch the great outdoors. This bedroom features another private en-suite bathroom, which includes a bath and rain shower.
The suite has a sizeable, wonderfully furnished lounge/library, with beautiful chairs and couches upholstered in the calm, muted colours of the bushveld. In this room, as well as throughout the suite, there are a myriad interesting details and textures: raw grass wallpaper, smooth floor finishes, leadwood sculptures mirroring the natural environment, sisal rugs. Look up and there are fascinating chandeliers handmade from salvaged sticks, branches and twigs, with interspersed twinkling light bulbs.

Both bedrooms and the lounge open out onto a huge reed-covered patio, which includes a private plunge pool. With upholstered lounging chairs and couches the patios are a wonderful addition to the amenities of the suites.

Besides the wonderful in-suite conveniences which one expects in every Sabi Sabi suite, guests staying in the Luxury Villas have their own private game vehicle, ranger and tracker.

This is exclusivity and luxury at its idyllic best.

For high res images, please contact
Published in News
Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve, South Africa (Jan. 08, 2015) - Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge today announced it is a founding member of National Geographic Society's newest foray in world-class travel experiences: National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, a collection of boutique hotels in extraordinary places around the world with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability, authenticity and excellence. Sabi Sabi is committed to conservation of not just the land, but also the culture and people that make our guest experience so unique and so memorable.

Selected through a rigorous evaluation process, each lodge offers an outstanding guest experience while supporting the protection of cultural and natural heritage and embracing sustainable tourism practices. The initial collection - numbering 24 properties on six continents - further builds National Geographic's travel portfolio, which includes National Geographic Expeditions, Traveler magazine, travel books, photography courses and the @NatGeoTravel digital and photography community.

"For years National Geographic has brought an authentic experience to all their readers and followers. Today we are proud to be part of that experience as we offer our guests unique and authentic experiences of South Africa under the umbrella of the National Geographic brand" said Jacques Smit, Marketing Director of Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge "Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge takes conservation, community and hospitality seriously and is proud to have these practices recognized through the National Geographic lodge program."

As part of a comprehensive vetting process, every lodge in the collection was judged on the following criteria:

The Property - The design and character are unique and authentic and the property provides guests with a true sense of place by celebrating the surrounding landscape and cultural heritage.

Guest Experience and Quality of Service - Guests are offered top-quality service and exceptional and inspiring experiences - from activities that enable them to engage with local people to wildlife encounters with seasoned naturalists.

Sustainable Tourism Best Practices - The property demonstrates a commitment to conservation and green operations; it actively supports the protection of cultural heritage; and it provides tangible benefits to local communities.

National Geographic deployed experts to each site to evaluate operations, meet staff at all levels, scrutinize the lodge's impact on the local environment and community and ensure that these criteria were met.

"By creating this carefully curated group of hotels, lodges and retreats that meet internationally recognized sustainable tourism criteria while providing top-notch guest experiences, National Geographic opens a new chapter in the power of travel to protect our planet," said Costas Christ, a world-renowned sustainable tourism expert and editor at large for National Geographic Traveler magazine, who coordinated an international team to inspect each of the lodges. "Travelers can feel confident when they stay in one of these lodges that they are helping to safeguard cultural and natural treasures in some of the world's most incredible places."

Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge is proud to offer guests who book their stay through National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World a special "National Geographic Exclusive" experience, which includes a wine cellar dinner complete with tasting vintages from around South Africa and learning about the country's thriving viniculture, a champagne breakfast in a surprise location, and - for a three night stay or longer - a complimentary spa treatment at the Amani Spa. This is all over and above the already all-inclusive experience of luxury accommodation in a uniquely designed lodge, including all meals and Sabi Sabi beverages topped with daily safari experiences in vehicles and on foot.

"The National Geographic brand is universally recognized for its commitment to exploring and protecting the planet, so we are uniquely positioned to unite and promote these exceptional properties and to set a new standard for tourism," said Lynn Cutter, National Geographic's executive vice president for Travel. "These lodges share the Society's vision of preserving the planet for future generations and they demonstrate that sustainability and a world-class guest experience can go hand-in-hand."

National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World charter members are:
  • Fogo Island Inn, Canada
  • Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, South Africa
  • Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Peru
  • Kapari Natural Resort, Greece
  • Kasbah du Toubkal, Morocco
  • Lapa Rios Eco Lodge, Costa Rica
  • Lizard Island, Australia
  • Longitude 131°, Australia
  • Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador
  • Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort, Canada
  • Pacuare Lodge, Costa Rica
  • Rosalie Bay Resort, Dominica
  • Rubondo Island Camp, Tanzania
  • Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge, South Africa
  • Sayari Camp, Tanzania
  • Southern Ocean Lodge, Australia
  • Sukau Rainforest Lodge, Malaysian Borneo
  • The Brando, French Polynesia
  • The Ranch at Rock Creek, Montana, United States
  • Three Camel Lodge, Mongolia
  • Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa, Chile
  • Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa, Chile
  • Tswalu Kalahari, South Africa
  • Zhiwa Ling Hotel, Bhutan
For more information about National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, visit

Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve
Reservations: +27 (011) 447-7172
Fax: +27 (011) 442-0728

Published in News
Given the confusion surrounding the forthcoming changes to the immigration rules for children travelling to South Africa, we have prepared a handy printable guide for tour operators, travel agents, and holidaymakers which highlights the key requirements.

SATOA Guides to the new Regulations For Travelling To South Africa With Children from 1 June 2015:

     Printable Infographic Of Documents Required For Kids Travelling To South Africa

     Guide To Getting A Duplicate UK Birth Certificate

For full details of the new regulations, including important information for additional requirements for when children are travelling without both parents being present, see the following official websites:

      The South African High Commission In London 

      Department For Home Affairs In South Africa

      PDF Summary Of New Rules From South African High Commission

About the author:  Paul Campbell is a member of the SATOA Committee and Managing Director of Travel Butlers Ltd, a UK based company that specialises in holidays to South Africa.
Published in News
Sibuya Game Reserve, located in the Eastern Cape Province, has appointed AMG to look after its trade representation in the UK. The agency has been tasked with raising the profile of its Game Reserve and tented camps and establishing the brand in the United Kingdom.

Sibuya, one of South Africa’s most unique safari destinations, has more navigable river than any other game reserve in South Africa and is sanctuary to an abundance of diverse wildlife, and a birding destination hard to beat, with nearly 400 different species of birds. The luxury tented camps are found on the banks of the Kariega River boasting spectacular views and high-end amenities. 

AMG account manager, Natalie de la Porte, who will be the account’s main point of contact, comments: “We are delighted to be working with Sibuya and to help the business get more presence in the UK trade. Its game and bird life has a lot to offer, and whilst the tented camps are different, they all offer a combination of quality, superb cuisine, friendly staff and commitment to the environment, which are all extremely important to the UK consumer.”

Nick Fox, owner of Sibuya, says: “We are very pleased to be working with AMG in the UK and were particularly impressed with their knowledge of South Africa as well as their connections in the travel trade. We are keen to see more business from the UK market, which we recognise as having great potential for us.”

For more information, please contact Natalie de la Porte at AMG:
For more information on Sibuya, please visit
Published in News
The South African Department of Home Affairs has delayed implementation of the requirement for children under the age of 18 to travel with unabridged birth certificate until June 1, 2015. In addition to this, the requirement for children travelling with just one parent to have written permission to travel from the other parent have also been postponed.

Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba,  told reporters at a media briefing "We have granted the postponement of these two particular requirements - the unabridged birth certificate and written permission, to June 1, 2015."

This news will be widely welcomed in the tourism industry, and we congratulate the Minister and all those who have campaigned for a postponement as this will undoubtedly help boost travel to South Africa over the coming months.

Published in News
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