On the banks of the Mabrak River, in a carved out section of South Africa’s Sabi Sand Game Reserve, the Dulini is a quiet presence amid a dynamic landscape.
A collection of charming thatched roof huts peppered along the water’s edge, the camp’s natural aesthetic makes it seem as though it evolved from the earth, just like its Ebony and Leadwood neighbours.
Intimate Splendour in South Africa
Groves of ancient trees huddle around the lodge and its suites to form a shelter, creating within the reserve an intimate dwelling.
While the Dulini matches the grandeur of its environs concerning atmosphere, taste and style, its compact size allows for a personalized safari experience—one that feels like you have the land all to yourself.
This sense of exclusivity makes it well-suited for small groups, families and couples looking to honeymoon or simply for a romantic retreat.
The Dulini is a sublime meeting of timeless elegance and the pure beauty of Mother Nature. Wood and stone play an integral part in the structures of the common lodge and suites, which are then elevated by plush fabrics, fresh flowers and glass chandeliers. The outcome is evocative of a chic boutique hotel, with the authenticness and warmth of an African bush camp.
In the main lodge, a shaded, outdoor viewing deck offers a front-row seat to the passing wildlife, where you can watch on from a pillow-laden couch or while sunning by the shared swimming pool.
Inside, kick back in one of the inviting sofas by the roaring fireplace of the library or maintain your exercise regimen with a workout in the gym.
An on-site shop showcases African handicrafts, jewellery and apparel—ideal for picking up souvenirs to bring back home.
A total of six suites means that a maximum of twelve guests can stay at a time. It’s possible to book the entire property out for your family, and doing so invites children of all ages. If there are other guests in addition to your group, the lodge welcomes children from eight years of age and older.
Skilled trackers and drivers from the local Shangaan community lead you on game drives to scope out the area’s residents: a list that includes elephants, buffalo, rhinoceros and lions. Leopards are especially known to strut around unperturbed in these corners, and you may even spot one catnapping on the lodge’s deck.
The Dulini’s open-roof Land Rovers—equipped with binoculars and fleece-lined ponchos—can carry a maximum of six guests at a time and offer the perfect vehicle to navigate the terrain and get up-close to the animals.
Game drives happen twice daily: once in the early morning and the second later in the afternoon. These later ones stretch into the evening after the sun has set for a look at the nocturnal creatures, like the white-tailed mongoose and spotted hyena.
An absence of fences between this corner of the Sabi Sand and the Kruger National Park means the wildlife are free to roam at their will. The nearby Sand River is a favourite haunt for hippos and crocodiles that come to bask in its water, while the dense reed beds host multiple bird species (over 300, to be precise).
Lovers of birding should take advantage of the Dulini’s interpretive safari walks that venture into the bush by foot.
Mealtime comes in many guises, from candlelit dinners to outdoor festivities. A leafy Jackalberry tree canopies the outdoor eating area, where guests dine on Pan-African creations by Dulini’s talented chefs.
If you’re looking for some alone time with your loved one, you can inquire about booking a private dinner in the wine cellar—well-stocked with the finest South African wines.
Torches and lanterns, a fire pit and linen-draped tables come together beneath a circle of trees to make a boma. Every few nights, guests gather here with members of the community to sing, dance and celebrate during a traditional African cookout beneath the night sky.
All of the spacious suites (though, given their size, are more comparable to cottages) are located just a stone’s throw from the river’s edge.
Hardwood flooring, a four-post netted bed and Colonial-era furnishings come together beneath an exposed thatched roof, giving way to an effortless blend of rustic and romantic.
Keep warm on chilly nights with the fireplace, while air-conditioning offers relief during the height of summer.
Large windows fill the rooms in natural light and keep you in constant connection with the surrounding environment. Admire the views from the four-clawed bathtub of your ensuite bathroom, or while soaking in the heated plunge pool of your private deck.
Add to this the option to have a masseuse pay you a visit and in-room dining, and you could find yourself luxuriating in your suite all day long.
Before and After Your Visit
Get the most out of your journey to South Africa and round-out your travels with other must-see places. Your point of arrival into the country will likely be Cape Town, a stunning city that merges sea to sky landscapes and a buzzing metropolis.
Hunker down here for a few nights and rest up at More Quarters, a boutique property comprised of apartments and located within walking distance of shops, restaurants and bars.
En route to the Dulini Lodge, you can make a stop in South Africa’s wine country and stay at Le Quartier Français, a five-star property found in the heart of Franschhoek.
If the wild continues to call following your visit to Dulini, you can carry on to the Thorntree River Lodge in Zambia, an eco-conscious retreat in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, seated just up the river from the remarkable Victoria Falls.