We’ve all been told to tighten our belts, so when we do get the chance to go away we keep it close to home, affordable and fun. But there’s no harm in looking at how the other half lives, which is why we turned to Google to find the most expensive lodges in South Africa for 2019.
1. Madikwe Hills Private Game Lodge, North West
What’s the damage? From R12 400pn per person sharing at the main camp and R53 200pn for four adults (R13 300 per person) at Little Madikwe Hills Private Camp where you’ll get a personal chef.
You’ll find this lodge on the Botswana border in the Madikwe Game Reserve and is home to the Big 5 and wild dogs. Each room has been equipped with an outdoor and indoor shower, as well as a private outdoor deck with plunge pool.
So what does the price tag get you? Enjoy luxury accommodation, three meals a day, two game drives with refreshments per day, laundry service, beverages (excluding premium spirits and cellar wines), high tea with canapés and snacks and road transfers from Madikwe Airstrip. If you’re not keen on the four-and-a-half-hour drive from Johannesburg, you can hop on a chartered flight for R3 925 one way with Madikwe Air Charters.
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2. Tswalu Kalahari, Northern Cape Province
What’s the damage? From R98 000pn for 2 to 4 people to R165 000pn for 8 to 10 guests in the Tarkuni Private Homestead. So the price can range from anywhere between R16 500pp to R49 000pn.
At almost R100k for two people per night, this Northern Cape lodge prides itself on privacy and exclusivity. For this hefty price tag you will get a chef, host, pool side deck, your own game viewing vehicle with a guide and tracker, outdoor walk-in showers and two lounges with open fireplaces. Unfortunately, this does not include any spa treatments. Once again, if you’d like to skip the seven-and-a-half-hour drive from Johannesburg with a one-and-a-half-hour flight you can do so for just R6 300 one way.
3. Dulini, Mpumalanga
What’s the damage? R16 790pn per person sharing
The Dulini Collection offers three different accommodation options all at the same price: Dulini, Leadwood and River Lodge. It’s entirely dependent on whether you wish to relax on the banks of the Mabrak or Sand Rivers, or both. Due to the lodge’s location within Sabi Sands, game spotting opportunities are bountiful.
Rates include your luxury accommodation, Wi-Fi, three meals daily, beverages, refreshments on game drives and transfers to and from the lodge airstrip. Fly into Ulusaba for about R4 000 one way with SA Airlink.
4. Leopard Hills, Mpumalanga
What’s the damage? R35 600pn per room (R17 800pp)
You’ll find Leopard Hills located in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. It’s an exclusive private lodge that’s surrounded by bush and offers guests lots of opportunities to do some animal spotting due to its proximity to the areas main watering hole. Choose from a grounded or raised suite, where each one is paired with its own private swimming pool – a must during the summer months.
The rate includes accommodation in one of the luxury suites, two games drives a day, three meals a day, walking safaris, all drinks (excluding premium wines from the lodge’s cellar and imported champagnes), laundry service, road transfers from the Leopard Hills airstrip and complimentary wifi in the suites.
If you’re planning on flying in rather than doing the 6-hour journey from Johannesburg, expect to fork out around R4 000 one way.
5. Royal Malewane, Mpumalanga
What’s the damage? R25 000 per person sharing per night for the Luxury Suite
Yet another lodge in a prime game viewing country in the Thornybush Private Game Reserve. The rooms come with all the plush interiors you’d expect from a lodge of this calibre with a night in the Luxury Suite that includes all meals, game drives, laundry service and all beverages.
Step up your experience by booking the Royal Suite for R125 000 for the unit per night which includes a private butler, private chef, private vehicles, all meals, beverages and wines, game drives and laundry as well as four complimentary 30-minute massages per stay of four nights and fewer. Get eight complimentary 30-minute massages if you book five or more nights.
If this is a little out of your price range, take a look at our list of affordable bush breaks.
A journalist by trade, features writer on occasion and now the digital editor of SA Country Life. The first chance she gets, Leigh will tell you about a podcast she was recently listening to and how you simply have to make the move from radio. In a previous life, she once taught English on Jeju which left her with an insatiable craving for kimchi.