Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa

Insider’s Review of Cheetah Plains

The three exclusive-use Cheetah Plains houses “ratchet up the luxury factor while committing to sustainability,” says The New York Times. Set in the private Cheetah Plains Private Reserve, part of the equally private Sabi Sand Game Reserve, with an unfenced border with Kruger National Park, Cheetah Plains glows with the pure patina of Africa, polished to a stylish, contemporary gleam; it’s a beacon for those of us looking for well-imagined luxury and a dedication to solar-powered sustainability. Just one of the personal passions of owner Japie van Niekerk is the property’s contemporary gallery space, a vivid showcase of some of Africa’s most celebrated artists.

Accommodations at Cheetah Plains

The Plains Houses accommodate up to eight guests per house, stylishly delivering the topmost shelf in, well, just about everything 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, all make the Houses ideal for an exclusive family safari or a merry party of friends. Each house has its own staff and chef, and features graciously appointed, wide-windowed, free-standing private suites (two of which are interconnected, thus nicely suited to families), adjacent to elegant shared spaces that include a formal lounge, living room, sun deck, lap pool, loggia, wine gallery, and dining room. Bathrooms feature double rain showers and baths overlooking the bushveld. On fine evenings, which are the happy norm, outdoor fireside dining is an atmospheric delight.

Thoughtful extras abound at Cheetah Plains, such as iPhone X’s per suite, preloaded with the Roberts’ bird app, Stuart’s mammal app, and an astronomy app for those big starry African nights.


Activities and Attractions at Cheetah Plains

We make our game drives in the Cheetah Plains and Sabi Sand reserves in prototype, zero-emission electric Land Cruiser safari vehicles, a sustainable, much-lauded innovation pioneered by Japie van Niekerk. Each comfortable vehicle features an onboard bird book, binoculars, and a professional level Nikon D850 camera fitted with a 200-500mm telephoto lens and a memory card.

The spacious and private Sabi Sand—it’s quite a bit larger than 10 Manhattans—is revered for prime Big Five viewing; an abundance of leopard, lion, rhino, elephant, buffalo, cheetah, zebra, giraffe, antelope, and 500 bird species roar, bleat, meow, sing, and live in unbound freedom. Our (electric, hence soothingly silent) game drives with our Micato Travel  Director, no stranger to these lovely parts, make for a soul-expanding experiences much talked about before and after — by the pool, around the fire, at the splendidly laid dining table of this opulent lodge.

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