Hotel check: River Lodge



Built on the banks of the Sabie River, River Lodge is one of two family-owned lodges located at Lion Sands Private Game Reserve. River Lodge was rebuilt after devastating floods demolished the property in 2000. In 2004 the exclusive Ivory Lodge with its six luxury villas was created to complete this five-star bush retreat.

What’s it Like?

River Lodge offers a fivestar experience with a warm and personalised approach. The lodge enjoys high occupancy, and having guests from all around the globe gives the place a great vibe.

Where is it?

Lion Sands Private Reserve is located in the world-famous Sabi Sands Game Reserve which forms part of the greater Kruger National Park (there are no fences and the wildlife is able to roam freely between Lion Sands and the Kruger National Park). It is a five-hour drive from Johannesburg or an 80-minute drive from Kruger Mpumalanga National Airport. If you fly from OR Tambo to Skukuza it is exactly an hour.

Room facilities 

There are 18 luxury thatched bedrooms each with a wooden viewing deck. The bathroom is well appointed and forms part of the main room with a fancy bath and both indoor and outdoor showers. Air-conditioning is a welcome relief and all rooms have king-sized beds with mosquito netting. The interior is tastefully decorated in cool creams and beige and the room has a mini bar (not needed as the food is abundant and delicious), telephone and safe. The rooms are linked to the main area by raised wooden walkways.

Restaurants and Bars 

The main area of the lodge offers a private lounge and bar with a glorious fireplace. This is a social area where guests come together after a night’s game drive to have a few drinks and share stories before supper is served. Dinner is served under the stars in the open-air boma or in the dining room. During the guests’ stay, the staff usually arrange one evening where all the guests dine together unless otherwise requested. There is also an option to retire to the outdoor safari lounge for a nightcap. Breakfast and lunch are served on the wooden deck overlooking the dry riverbed under hundred-year-old jackalberry trees. The food is outstanding, with hearty breakfasts and sumptuous lunches served by a butler assigned to each guest. No one should ever go hungry at River Lodge with this gastronomical line-up: early morning rusks, game drive snacks, a full breakfast, a lazy lunch, afternoon high tea, sundowner snacks and a hearty supper.

Leisure Facilities and Activities

Big-five game viewing is obviously the main attraction. Guests head out for an early morning drive at 5.30 a.m. (in summer) and at 4.30 p.m. for the afternoon drive. The rangers are knowledgeable and experienced. River Lodge has two swimming pools that allow for wonderful game viewing too. Elephant often walk past the pools but, fortunately, there is an electric fence separating the two. A unique spot at River Lodge is the River Island Deck built on the river and open to the elements. As you leave the lodge it’s advisable to look both left and right before crossing to the deck in case a wild animal is crossing! For the health-conscious, a gym and a health spa are available.

Business Facilities

This is an ideal place for a small conference or teambuilding activities. Astronomy evenings can be arranged for those with a keen interest in the solar system and the associated African folklore. Bush walks are on the programme for those interested in plants, trees and tracking skills. Wildlife lectures can also be arranged for groups.


This is African hospitality at its best. River Lodge is the kind of place thatyou would want to revisit.


Tel: +27 11 880 9992

Janet Fourie