ulusaba

Stay: A safari lodge with Branson clout

It should surprise no one that Sir Richard Branson’s beloved slice of the Sabi Sand Reserve, in South Africa’s sprawling Kruger National Park, invokes the essence of adventure tourism.

From your arrival at the property’s private airstrip, a stunning 80-minute flight from Johannesburg across the scrubby plains of South Africa’s renowned heartland, the action begins.

Early-morning and late-afternoon expeditions are led by experienced guides and local trackers, with the abundance of wildlife in the park – itself around 20,000 square kilometres in area – ensuring some of the best game driving on the planet.

While authenticity abounds, there’s no shortage of luxury trimmings. As well as a day spa, there are silver service bush breakfasts, and all-inclusive fine dining – either served communal style in the main lodges, or as a private dining experience at secret locations around the property.

Ulusaba comprises of two separate luxury lodges: Rock Lodge, perched on top of a ‘koppie’ (small mountain) and Safari Lodge, constructed above the dry Mabrak river bed and connected by swing bridges. It’s not unusual to spot an elephant taking a quick splash by one of the private plunge pools.

For the complete out of Africa experience, opt for the Treehouse Suite that overlooks the Xikwenga Dam, the largest natural water source in the Sabi Sand Reserve and teeming with a local population of hippos, crocodiles and birdlife.

Branson himself is in residence several times a year. When he’s not, guests can sleep in his bed – literally. The Safari Suite with viewing deck, fire pit and hot tub plunge pool – dubbed his ‘Necker in the bush’ – is ideal for family gatherings or special events.

The Extras

Guests can experience authentic village life and meet members of the local community. Tours and curated experiences are run through Pride ’n Purpose, the charitable arm of Ulusaba, which is committed to helping disadvantaged communities living around the Sabi Sands Reserve. Whether your experience involves teaching children at a local school, taking a village tour, or a helicopter flight over the Blyde River Canyon (the third deepest and greenest canyon in the world), 100 per cent of donations go directly towards community sustainability projects.

Details

Kruger National Park; from US$680 per night. virginlimitededition.com/en/ulusaba

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