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Simbambili Game Lodge Review: Luxury Safari in Sabi Sands

In Africa, you could pay buckets more at a splurge lodge in Sabi Sands Game Reserve – but it’s unnecessary.

Not when the adults-only Simbambili Game Lodge offers nine honeymoon-worthy bungalows!

Simbambili Game Lodge is one of the best places to stay in Sabi Sands
Simbambili Game Lodge is one of the best places to stay in Sabi Sands

Simbambili Game Lodge

At Simbambili Game Lodge, honeymoon-worthy bungalows are set among jackalberry trees along the Manyeleti River.
Honeymoon-worthy bungalows are set among jackalberry trees along the Manyeleti River

One of the best game reserves in South Africa, Sabi Sands is a private game reserve abutting world-famous Kruger National Park.

The park isn’t fenced, so the animals pass freely between the park and the game reserve.

simbambili game lodge
You’re pretty well guaranteed to see lions at Simbambili Game Lodge

If you want to see lions and the rest of the “Big 5” (leopards, elephants, buffalo and rhino), Sabi Sands is the place to go!

Our Sabi Sands game drives were action-packed and we saw all the Big Five animals on a 3-night safari.

Leopards are commonly seen at Simbambili Game Lodge, which is one of the best game lodges in South Africa
Leopards are commonly seen at Simbambili Game Lodge

Simbambili Game Lodge is located in the slightly less-busy northern section of Sabi Sands.

Strung along the edge of a sandy riverbed, Simbambili’s bungalows have private plunge pools and enormous bathrooms with egg-shaped stone tubs and rain-showers.

After an early morning game drive, it’s nice to take an afternoon nap out on your deck

You’ll also find a “sala” (outdoor lounge area with double cushioned day-bed) on the spacious deck of your bungalow.

Fold back the wood-and-glass doors, and you bring the outside completely in.

Simbambili Game Lodge has nine honeymoon-worthy bungalows
Each bungalow has its own private plunge pool

Bush dining

Simbambili Game Lodge
The inviting lounge and dining room

Breakfast and lunch is served in an elegant, thatched-roof dining room with tree-trunk columns, fireplaces and no walls on three sides.

The dining room overlooks a watering hole, where a moving tableau of warthogs, impala and baboons kept us swapping forks for binoculars.

Elephants at the watering hole in front of the dining room

No Simbambili Game Lodge review would be complete without mentioning the romantic four-course dinners in the lodge, which alternate with barbecues by lantern light in the dry riverbed or boma.

We’re still dreaming of the warm lemon soufflé!

And the lions…

If you stay at Simbambili Game Lodge

She said yes! A private bush lunch at Simbambili for a guest proposing to his girlfriend
She said yes! A private bush lunch for a guest proposing to his girlfriend

What we especially loved

Unbelievable game viewing!

Be aware

Simbambili’s little gym isn’t really up to snuff. But to be fair, most people don’t expect working treadmills and ellipticals when they go on safari.

Booking this Sabi Sands game lodge

Part of the Thornybush Collection of South African safari lodges, Simbambili Game Lodge is intimate – it only has nine lovely bungalows with private pools.

Simbabili Game Lodge: Check rates and availability here

Have you been on a South African safari?

Where did you stay? Let us know in the Comments below!

Experience more of Africa!

Lower Zambezi National Park: From canoeing (with crocs!) in the Zambezi River to offering unforgettable elephant encounters, Chiawa and Old Mondoro safari camps nail glamping in Zambia.

Victoria Falls: The pool decorations at The Royal Livingstone Hotel kick if you walk too close. They’re zebras – live zebras.

Chobe National Park: You won’t believe all the animals you see when you go on a Chobe safari!

Cape Town: Hiking up Table Mountain isn’t exactly a walk in the park. But the views are astounding!

Our top travel tips and resources

Hotels: is great for scoring a “wow” hotel – or at least a decent one. (We especially like their flexible cancellation policy!)

Vacation homes, condos and rentals: We prefer and use Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner).

Tours: For the best local food, walking and other guided tours, plus skip-the-line tickets to attractions, check out Viator (a TripAdvisor company) and GetYourGuide.

Car rental: Renting a car is often one of the best ways to explore off the beaten path. Discover Cars searches car rental companies so you get the best rates.

Travel insurance: SafetyWing is designed for frequent travelers, long-term adventurers and digital nomads. It covers medical expenses, lost checked luggage, trip interruption and more. We also have and recommend Medjet for global air medical transportation and travel security.

Travel gear: See our travel shop to find the best luggage, accessories and other travel gear. (We suggest these comfy travel sandals for city walking, the beach and kicking about.)

Need more help planning your trip? Check out our travel tips and resources guide for airline booking tips, ways to save money, how to find great hotels and other crazy useful trip planning info.

Pssst! If you make a booking or purchase through our site, we may earn a small commission (at no cost to you). Thanks!

Photo credits: 6, 7 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | Remaining photos Simbambili Game Lodge

About the authors

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George Mucalov are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents. See About.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews, insanely useful travel tips and more!


Friday 7th of February 2014

Great write up! I will be here in Nov for my honeymoon! Can not wait!

Janice and George

Friday 7th of February 2014

You'll have a wonderful time - the bungalows are very romantic. A perfect honeymoon choice!


Monday 9th of December 2013

Wow! I've been working on a South Africa Destination Guide on my site and will include a link to this post. It's out of the price range for most travelers but this post shows what's available to those looking for something special for a few days. Frank

Janice and George

Monday 9th of December 2013

Yes, it was certainly special. Simbambili offers similar luxury to other lodges in Sabi Sand (except for the wines and alcohol, which aren't included in Simbambili's rates) that are even three times more expensive.

Cheryl Merrill

Friday 8th of November 2013

I did a Game Ranger Training Experience in the Sabi Sand preserve. Not as plush as this (outdoor bucket shower) but got to drive a 12-passenger Land Rover down a rocky river bed and parallel-park next to an elephant! The game viewing in Sabi Sand IS incredible. We tracked lions on foot and found them! I have incredible respect for the game ranger who kept us off the lions' lunch menu.

Janice and George

Friday 8th of November 2013

Sounds like you had a rich game-viewing experience too! Tracking lions on foot must have been very exciting...


Saturday 2nd of November 2013

This looks like a place I wouldn't mind crashing in after a day in the wild:)

Janice and George

Saturday 2nd of November 2013

It was quite civilized indeed! And you better appreciate returning to the fine things too, after getting a little hot and dusty on a game drive.


Monday 28th of October 2013

So "Out of Africa"...and those lion cubs!

Janice and George

Monday 28th of October 2013

Aren't they cute? Just have to remember they're wild; they grow up and kill impala :-). But yes, the lodge was delightful...