The History of Elephant Plains
Elephant Plains Game Lodge is situated in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve
which forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park.
The Sabi Sand Game Reserve was set up in the 1950's by a group of private landowners who dropped the fences between their properties in order to create a larger area for the animals to roam freely. The reserve is named after its two main rivers, the Sabi and Sand Rivers, which both flow to the south of Elephant Plains Game Lodge. In 1993 the fences between the Kruger National Park and the Sabi Sand Game Reserve were dropped to allow the animals an even bigger traversing area. Currently the Kruger National Park encompasses an area of around 2.2 million hectares.
The Steyn family used to own the Seville property, a farm just outside the village of Utah on the way to the Orpen gate. In the early sixties this land was reclaimed by the government and along with many other neighbouring properties it became trust land. The reclamation led to the creation of the Manyeleti Game Reserve, situated just to the north of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve.
Koot Steyn, his son, Dries Steyn and a third partner, Jannie Wilkens then bought the farm, Arathusa from Mr Tresford in 1962. At that time the only buildings on the property were the old main building and two rondavels, currently Rooms 2 and 3. More rondavels (Rooms 1, 4 & 5) were added and the camp was used as a holiday place for family & friends.
The infamous Harry Kirkman became warden of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve in 1958 and frequently visited the farm. After having captivated friends with his incredible wildlife stories around the campfire, he would always sleep on the porch of Room 2, despite a ready-made bed indoors.
Koot Steyn passed on and the northern section of the property was sold to the then German Ambassador for South Africa, Mr Jackel. It has since been re-sold. Jannie Wilkens's southern section was sold to Mr Abrahams.
The farm is now owned by his daughters, Shirley and Joan. This is the private camp one can see from the original pool deck. Dries Steyn divided his property in two and in 1994 the farm was inherited by the Witpoort Family Trust. Dr. Etienne & Margie Swart are the current owners.
The Swart family decided to share their piece of paradise with visitors and on the 1st of October 1998 Elephant Plains Game Lodge opened its doors to the public. Initially we only accommodated 10 guests in the rondavels of the original family holiday camp. The construction of the new main lodge and six luxury suites during 2003, as well as the honeymoon suite in 2006, has allowed us to take 24 guests. The lodge is owner-run by Etienne & Marlet Swart, who reside on the property. With the help of a wonderful team of staff members, they are living their dream...