Sandibe opened in August 1998, about a year after Chitabe, and takes its name from the Santantadibe River that it faces. It stands in a band of thick riverine vegetation, and the pathways through the camp weave between the natural bush, which has been disturbed as little as possible. There are no wooden walkways here!
The main lounge and dining area has a unique design, influenced (I’m told) by styles from Mali and even Santa Fe. The roof is two storeys high, supported on long tree-trunk timbers and trendily decked in shaggy thatch. Under one side of this is a small lounge, on the other are tables set for meals. Up a few steps here is a small sitting area and a boardwalk with a hammock and more easy chairs. The whole structure is very open with rough wooden banisters and adobe walls.
A favourite feature of the lodge is the boma area, outside, where at night they have a central fire under tall trees, surrounded by lots of magical candlelight.
As with its sister-camp (Nxabega), Sandibe has a well-stocked wine cellar. Here it is kept cool in fine traditional style by an eco-friendly cool room with porous charcoal walls. (Ask to see this – it’s how safari camps survived before refrigerators!) Though unlimited good house wine is included as part of your stay, if you want access to the vintage wines and more esoteric, imported spirits then these will cost extra.
Sandibe’s relatively simple rooms are of a solid, terracotta-coloured construction with mesh windows (no glass) and big double-doors. Inside the twin or double beds have high-quality cotton sheets and linen, covered during the day by an unusual woven leather bedspread, and one walk-in mosquito net.
In these cool rooms is a writing desk, wooden bedside tables with lamps, tall mirrors, a wall-safe for valuables and a fan high in the ceiling. There’s a small toilet and wash basin inside, plus a wonderful en-suite outdoor shower. Outside each chalet is a polished concrete veranda with chairs and a table, and a raised viewing platform for watching the wildlife.
The camp has a small circular plunge-pool, perhaps 5m in diameter, surrounded by sun-loungers, and a semi-circle of natural leadwood poles jutting up from the ground. There’s also a curio shop, with the usual T-shirts, postcards, film, books, hats, maps, pictures, baskets and cuddly toys. Sadly they also sell imported West African and East African crafts, rather than concentrating on locally produced ones.
Like Nxabega, Sandibe has a large enough staff complement to be better than most camps at tailoring its activities around what guests want, and when they want it.