Sanctuary Retreatsby Darren Dunne
Since the doors of Olonana opened in 1999, Sanctuary Retreats has piqued the interest of adventure seekers and discerning travelers alike with their portfolio of wilderness lodges and camps. Herein, we delve deeper into the experiences guests can expect during a stay at one of our featured Sanctuary properties.
Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa
Taking its name from the African wild dog that is native to the area, Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge is situated in a verdant riverside forest, perched on the edge of a ravine. The Lodge features just eight glass-fronted suites, constructed from local stone, wood and thatch to have minimal environmental impact.
Africa’s “Big Five” (African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard and black/white rhinoceros) are daily visitors to the watering hole that’s situated below the Lodge’s spacious lounge and dining area (which just so happens to open out onto a wide viewing platform).
Moremi Wildlife Reserve, Botswana
Despite its location in what’s known as the “predator capital of Africa”, guests at Chief’s Camp can expect nothing but luxurious lodgings and extravagant pampering during their stay. The Camp is nestled on an island created by the seasonal floodwaters of the Okavango and is comprised of just 12 secluded bush pavilions. The main deck is split into two levels, one offering expansive views over the floodplain, while the other features a large outdoor pool.
In this corner of Moremi Game Reserve, wild dog, lion, cheetah and leopard rule the roost, and there are ample opportunities to get up close with these magnificent beasts. Memorable excursions are offered by land, water and even via a helicopter tour over the delta.
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Chobe National Park is home to Africa’s largest concentration of pachyderms (elephants, rhinos and hippos) with over 80,000 elephants alone roaming its confines. It’s also home to Chobe Chilwero, a boutique lodge comprised of just fourteen luxurious guest cottages.
Chobe Chilwero enjoys an advantageous position on a hilltop above the Chobe River and floodplain, a prime perch from which to observe the herds meandering hither and tither below. A more intimate viewing experience can be found in the form of open-sided 4×4 vehicle tours and tranquil sunset cruises along the Chobe River.
Moremi Wildlife Reserve, Botswana
Each of the five spacious suites on offer at Baines’ Camp afford guests the opportunity to be a little flexible with their sleeping arrangements. The four-poster beds are fully mobile, and can be wheeled out on to the private wooden deck that overlooks the Boro River for a unique sleeping experience. The Lodge’s common area is a hub of activity thanks to the presence of a shaded swimming pool, sitting room and large deck — perfect for mingling with fellow adventurers.
Safaris here are conducted via land or water, and by day or night. Unique to Baines’ Camp is the option to walk with three orphaned elephants, joining them on their travels through the bush to gain a special look into their lives.
Masai Mara Reserve, Kenya
Responsible eco-tourism is par for the course at Olonana, a sustainable camp in Kenya’s iconic Masai Mara game reserve. Visitors here will find their tent furnished with salubrious items such as a four-poster bed, parquet flooring and spacious balconies with views.
Those views will likely encompass pods of hippopotami, who have made a comfortable home of the local watering hole. It’s not just the local wildlife that is spoiled in such lush surrounds either. Guests at Olonana can fill their days with treatments at the mini-spa, afternoon game drives or even visits to the local Maasai Village where the local way of life can be sampled.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda
The dreamlike confines of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest play host to just over half of the world’s mountain gorilla population, a fact that has earned the forest UNESCO World Heritage Site status. This stunning locale is also home to Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, where gorillas are treated like local celebrities, roaming the grounds and often joining guests in sitting down to breakfast or lunch.
Days here are languidly spent gorilla trekking among the foliage, before unwinding at the Gorilla Forest Spa. Facials, foot massages and manicures/pedicures are served up here to help guests refresh and do it all again tomorrow.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Adroitly placed atop a rugged, rocky outcrop, guests at Sanctuary Kusini need only to step outside of their luxurious double tent to enjoy vistas over the iconic Serengeti. Kusini’s location was hand-selected by local experts to provide a prime vantage point to observe the myriad animals that pad their way across the plains, with an alphabet of critters from antelopes to zebras known to pay a visit.
Turning inwards, just twelve double tents are available and they’re scattered around the main kopje. Each spacious tent features a private deck, while the main area features a dining area, lounge, library and bush boutique.
Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
An exclusive, eco-friendly safari experience awaits guests at Sanctuary Swala Camp, a luxurious camp located within the confines of the Tarangire National Park. First impressions last, and the location of the camp’s main area directly under a large baobab tree provides a stunning introductory image to guests. This main area boasts a dining space, lounge, deck and small library, all draped in contemporary African designs under a thatched roof.
The local watering hole provides a gathering point for elephants as well as big cats, a combination that can be easily viewed from the comfort of the lodge’s stunning infinity pool.
Game viewing activities here include morning and afternoon game drives, bush breakfasts and picnics. For an added cost, walking safaris and night drives are also available.