This hallowed corner of Sabi Sand Game Reserve is aglow with the pure patina of Africa, and polished to a stylish, contemporary gleam. With whispered origins of South Africa’s oldest private game reserve and a noble nod to the genesis of sustainable wildlife tourism, Cheetah Plains occupies a prideful place in our safari-loving hearts. This vast park is revered for prime Big Five viewing; an abundance of leopard, lion, rhino, elephant, buffalo, cheetah, zebra, giraffe, antelope and 500 bird species can be observed roaring, bleating, meowing and generally living it up. Our twice-daily game drives make for a soul-feeding experience that’s much talked over before and after — by the pool, around the fire, at the splendidly laid dining table of this opulent lodge. A bold revisioning of the traditional safari set-up to be sure, yet intimate just the same, exclusive-use Cheetah Plains is a shining beacon to the eco-luxe safari set. Just one of the very personal passions of owner Japie van Niekerk, is the property’s contemporary gallery space, a micro-world of some of Africa’s most celebrated artistic talent. (More about our host’s other bold innovations, including advances toward zero-emission game drives, below…)
Three exclusive-use Plains Houses accommodate up to eight guests per house, stylishly delivering the ne plus ultra in, well, just about every darn thing great and small. A sleek heated swimming pool, day beds that overlook the watering hole, cool polished stone throughout and muted palettes that invite the outside in… an ideal setting for an exclusive family safari or a merry party of friends. Each house features graciously appointed, wide-windowed free-standing private luxury suites (two of which are inter-connected, thus nicely suited to families), adjacent to elegant shared spaces that include an expansive formal lounge, living room, sun deck, lap pool, loggia, wine gallery and dining room. Bathrooms feature double rain shower and bath overlooking the bushveld. On fine evenings, of which there are too many to count, the outdoor fireside dining is an atmospheric favourite.
The Cheetah Plains team, dedicated and keenly intuitive, comprises a private host, chef, spa therapist, game ranger and tracker. Thoughtful extras abound, like having two iPhone 10s per suite, preloaded with the Roberts’ bird app, Stuart’s mammal app, and an astronomy app for those big starry African nights. Off the grid never felt so serene: solar power provides reliable, renewable energy and grey-water recycling systems limit over-use of valuable supplies.
Cheetah Plains is well suited for children. Educational and engaging Bush bumbles (game drives of age appropriate duration) and interpretive garden walks are just a part of Cheetah Cub Club, the bespoke children’s safari program for the under 12s. Babysitting by qualified, caring nannies is complimentary and always on offer.
Each Plains House comes uber-equipped with resident host, wellness therapist, ranger and tracker. Here, our twice-daily game drives are among the highest-of-highlights – and come with a forward-thinking twist: snazzy prototype Land Cruiser Electric safari vehicles. These are a game-changing innovation pioneered by CP’s own Japie van Niekerk: electric rides deliver near silent, unobtrusively smooth travel as well as zero-emissions. Ever-thoughtful extras include onboard bird book, binoculars and professional-level Nikon D850 camera fitted with a 200-500mm telephoto lens plus memory card provided for your enjoyment. In addition to all that, if not above and beyond it, are the curiosity-fueling guided bush walks, the fully kitted out gym, and the cooling lap pool. Perhaps an afternoon siesta followed by a guided village visit to observe and even participate in the rich traditions of local Shangaan culture, or some touch therapies or luxury beauty treatments, all included in your stay.