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Thursday, March 26, 2009

"Rain Dance", Great Escape, Business Traveler Magazine

** Hot off the press **
The new issue of Business Traveler Magazine (April 2009) contains the following Great Escape article by Adam Rodriguez on his safari in South Africa. The safari was arranged by Roar Africa. Click the image on the right for the original or read the full text reproduced below.

Rain Dance

Adam Rodriguez enjoys the animal parade prompted by a good rainfall in South Africa.

In South Africa, there are few things as important as water. Valued by man and beast alike, a good rainstorm brings everyone together. While I had spent an afternoon chatting with the other guests on a rained-out safari a few months prior to this trip, I was fortunate enough to arrive at Lion Sands Ivory Lodge shortly after the soaking rain, and thus able to reap the benefits without losing a day in the park.

Of course, a good rainstorm doesn’t just bring people together in idle chatter. Like a favorite neighborhood bar for the locals, the swollen river behind my private villa at the exclusive, six-unit Ivory Lodge attracted all sorts of nearby wildlife, and I was even lucky enough to see plenty from the comfort of my own patio. One afternoon, as I took my daily dip in my private heated pool, I spied a mother hippo, with her baby in tow, waddling out of the river. Later on, a handful of elephants happened to amble toward the riverbank as a Lion Sands sommelier taught me about the wine he had just poured.

Adding to the daily parade of animals was the gracious hospitality of the entire staff. Friendly and easygoing, there was no request too big or too small. Not only did I get the rare bonus of an elephant spotting during my wine tasting, but the experience was extended to twice the scheduled time, at no additional cost. Even with a menu of four courses at every meal, each more tantalizing than the next, the kitchen accommodated my obscure appeal for ostrich steak and watermelon juice without a moment’s hesitation.

The villa itself was as modern and elegant as any urban retreat, with ebony and ivory motifs, a king-sized bed draped in mosquito netting, indoor/outdoor showers, and a full-sized refrigerator, stocked with standardsized bottles of liquor, juices and snacks. But I hardly had room for any of these snacks or drinks—tempting as they were—as our sunset drives included cocktails and appetizers, perhaps my favorite part of the day, especially with so many animals out enjoying the rehydrated, post-rainfall evening.

Of course, it’s worth mentioning that the rain isn’t always a blessing on this strip of land. Built along the Sabie River, which cuts its way through South Africa’s famous Kruger National Park in the northeast, excessive rains demolished the 70-year-old camp just over eight years ago. However, the fourthgeneration owners were quick to rebuild, Great Escape lion sands ivory lodge reinventing it as a top-end luxury retreat on nearly 10,000 acres.

A notable addition to Lion Sands’ River Lodge and Ivory Lodge properties is two tree houses, which offer all of the amenities of a luxury room, with nothing between you and the stars but a thin layer of mosquito netting covering the bed. Guests are escorted to the tree house at sunset for Champagne and an al fresco dinner, and then retire beneath the night sky, lulled to sleep by the nocturnal sounds of the surrounding bush.

I’ve been on numerous African safaris, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this lodge to any of my friends. I had a memorable time, thanks to the well thought-out and lavish facilities. While the rains may have once destroyed a cherished family camp, the same rains paved the way for its truly remarkable rebirth as Lion Sands—once again, bringing everyone together.


Lion Sands Ivory Lodge, Sabie Sands Game, Reserve, Mpumalanga, South Africa; tel.+27-11-484-9911;

For booking from the U.S., contact Deborah Calmeyer at Roar Africa, tel. 877-762-7237; e-mail

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