Sabi Sand Game Reserve

- Overview Sabi Sands Safaris

About Sabi Sand Game Reserve

Sabi Sands shares a 50km unfenced border with Kruger National Park and offers the best wildlife viewing in South Africa. The area is divided into individual private game reserves, all offering the ultimate Big Five experience. The reserves offer an exclusive experience with luxury accommodation, great service and excellent food.

Size: help
650km² / 251mi²
Altitude: help
329-504m / 1079-1654ft
Pros and Cons
  • Superb wildlife viewing with almost guaranteed sightings of the Big Five
  • Good guides and trackers take you out on two drives a day
  • Off-road driving allows close viewing of animals
  • Excellent high-end luxury safari lodges
  • Mostly expensive, fully-inclusive safari packages available
  • Emphasis on Big Five animals and ticking off flagship species

Wildlife

Sabi Sands is the place in South Africa to easily see all of the Big Five in a short period. Even a two-day visit is usually enough to see all flagship species. With a good population of highly habituated leopards, Sabi Sands is one of the best places in Africa to see these normally elusive cats. Lion and cheetah are also easily seen.
More about Sabi Sand's wildlife

Scenery

Sabi Sands is an extension of Kruger National Park and has the same relatively thick vegetation consisting of woodland savanna. Two rivers run through the park, providing water. The riverine vegetation makes an excellent habitat for leopards and other wildlife.

How to decide where to stay

Most places within Sabi Sands offer the same deal: upmarket safari packages, including accommodation, all meals and activities. Some upmarket lodges include drinks while others don't. The individual reserves share fence-less borders with the Greater Kruger ecosystem and offer a comparable wildlife viewing experience. All Sabi Sands reserves are excellent safari destinations. When deciding where to stay, the differences in the following factors could be taken into account:

  • Property size and traversing rights
    Traversing rights mean that the guests of one reserve are allowed to enter the property of another reserve on game drives. While traversing rights give people access to a greater area, it also means that areas shared by multiple reserves often get more crowded. This can create congestion and time pressure around wildlife sightings, since only three vehicles are allowed at any particular sighting. The best deal is a large property with limited or no traversing rights. Singita and Londolozi, for example, have a large property without traversing rights. The same applies for Mala Mala, which used to be part of Sabi Sands, but now operates as an independent reserve.

  • Luxury level and rates
    Although all offer luxury and expensive options, there are some differences. Londolozi and Singita are, for example, more expensive and very luxurious. Djuma is a lot more affordable, but can only be booked by groups. Mala Mala is slightly more affordable and one of the best places for wildlife viewing (large property, limited traversing rights), but is relatively simple in terms of lodging.

  • Access to river frontage
    River frontage is a plus because it attracts animals. While waterholes have the same effect, a river is also a scenic feature and it provides an opportunity to see elephants in the water. Some of the reserves have no river frontage but have traversing rights onto a property that does, which amounts to the same thing.

The properties and river can be seen on this map.

Places to stay

  • Arathusa
    Star rating: 4; family owned/managed, well- priced small property on large traversing block, no access to river frontage.
    www.arathusa.co.za

  • Cheetah plains
    Moderately priced (in comparison), small property on large traversing block, but only limited traversing allowed, no access to river frontage.
    www.cheetahplains.com

  • Chitwa Chitwa
    Moderately priced (in comparison), small property on large traversing block, no access to river frontage.
    www.chitwa.co.za

  • Djuma
    Vuyatela Lodge: 5-star, Galago Camp: 4-star; both are self-catering lodges aimed at group bookings and relatively inexpensive, located on a medium-sized property on a large traversing block, no access to river frontage.
    More about Djuma

  • Dulini
    Three luxury lodges with river frontage on a medium sized property on large traversing block.
    www.dulini.com

  • Elephant plains
    Star rating: 4; well priced, small property on large traversing block, no access to river frontage.
    www.elephantplains.co.za

  • Idube
    Star Rating: 4; small property on large traversing block, access to river frontage.
    More about Idube

  • Inyati
    Medium-sized property on large traversing block, owns river frontage.
    More about Inyati

  • Kirkman's Kamp
    Part of the excellent & Beyond group; moderately priced (in comparison), & Beyond lodge, large property with extra traversing rights on Mala Mala, owns river frontage.
    www.andbeyond.com

  • Leopard Hills
    Very expensive, small property on big traversing block, access to river frontage.
    www.leopardhills.com

  • Lion Sands
    River Lodge: 5 Star; moderately priced (in comparison), Ivory lodge: 6 Star; very expensive, large property without any traversing rights, very exclusive with wide river frontage.
    More about Lion Sands

  • Londolozi
    Very expensive and luxurious, large property without any traversing rights, very exclusive with river frontage.
    More about Londolozi

  • Mala Mala Game Reserve
    Unpretentious, moderately priced to very expensive. Independent from Sabi Sands but neighboring the same area without fences. By far the biggest property in the Sabi Sands area, with the most extended river access. Very limited traversing rights with one property far away from Mala Mala's usual wildlife viewing area.
    More about Mala Mala

  • Nkorho
    Star rating: 4; well-priced, small property sharing traversing with two other small properties, no access to river frontage.
    www.nkhoro.com

  • Nottens
    Unpretentious, owner-managed, authentic bush experience, well-priced, medium-sized property, no traversing, lodge overlooks the Sand River.
    www.nottens.com

  • Sabi Sabi
    Very expensive except for Little Bush Camp which is moderately priced (in comparison), large property with limited traversing to one small property, very limited river frontage access.
    More about Sabi Sabi

  • Savanna
    Star rating: 5; Moderately priced (in comparison), medium-sized property on big traversing block, river frontage access.
    www.savannalodge.com

  • Singita
    Very expensive and luxurious, large property without any traversing rights, very exclusive with river frontage.
    More about Singita Sabi Sand

  • Ulusaba
    Star Rating: 5; very expensive, medium sized property on big traversing block, river frontage access.
    More about Ulusaba

  • Umkumbwe
    Unpretentious, owner-managed, well-priced, medium-sized property, no traversing, lodge overlooks the river.
    www.umkumbe.co.za

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Latest User Review
By Herve from FranceFR

We really enjoyed our safari at Sabi Sands. First of all, in only two days, we managed to see the Big Five, plus a variety of other animals (antelopes, giraffes, hyenas, zebras, hippopotamus). The weather was nice, dry, a bit cold in the morning and ... Full review


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