An arrival at a luxury safari lodge generally makes you feel like the most important person in the world, with welcome drinks, smiles, cooling face cloths, baggage whisked away to rooms and the lodge manager on hand to inquire about your every whim. Jabali Ridge is no exception.
Despite its luxury credentials, you are in the middle of the bush. In this case, the Ruaha National Park in southern Tanzania, which has a sense of genuine wilderness and low visitor numbers. It's located on the top of a kopje - a boulder-covered hill looking out over lush plains dotted with palms and baobabs - close to the Mwagusi River, which is well populated with game and full replenished by the rains that fall during our visit.
The lodge has raised the bar in terms of luxury and elegance in Ruaha. Launched in September 2017, it attracts a clientele who are well versed in the safari scene and are looking for both a location and a lodge with a difference. Hidden among the rocks with all rooms connected by wooden walkways to a main area, it has been imaginatively designed to fit in with the natural surroundings, using bamboo, wood and glass. By day, the kopje is populated by salamanders and rock hyrax, but by night, lions and leopards sometimes return to their ancient homes. While lions will not be troubling you in the infinity pool by day, by night an askari, or guard, is on hand to escort you along the walkways to and from your room. Just in case.
There are eight tented suites but the "walls" are fully opening louvred wooden shutters, so it certainly doesn't feel like you are in a tent. The beds are king-sized and the drapes are in restful pastel shades with a separate shower area. The twin-level outside verandahs have hammocks and soft furnishings to relax on during the heat of the day. From here we had great sightings of elephants and a genet sitting on a nearby rock. A private family villa that sleeps six is also available.
Service in a bush camp covers two areas: the camp itself and the game drives, which can be made or broken by the quality of the guide. Both at Jabali were of a high standard.
Tasty, nourishing menu choices, from fruit and cooked breakfasts to salads, meat and game options, vegetable skewers and cheese for lunch. Three-course dinners increase the likelihood of weight gain during your stay. You can vary where you eat, from the main dining area overlooking the plains to a candle-lit dinner by the pool or romantic à deux on the balcony of your room. Bush dinners and sundowners are a specialty.
The sense of elegance and sophistication surrounded by wilderness.
Too much waiter hovering.
The perfect new discovery for seasoned bush aficionados.
The bottom line
Rooms start at $788 per person per night.