Sabi Sand Game Reserve- User Reviews
A beautiful reserve with an amazing wildlife
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 night as it is supposed to be at this period of the year (winter). We stayed at Umkumbe Lodge, a human sized, owner run lodge, which really makes you feel at ease. Guides and staff were helpful and friendly, dinners around the camp fire were excellent and the sundowners in the middle of nowhere are a must. The situation along the Sand river allows you to watch the wildlife coming to the river just from your room.
Raveged by drought
I booked a Sabi Camp for my photography tour I was leading, as I had heard Sabi Sands was the best place in the Kruger area. I bet it is when not ravaged by drought. There was very little to eat for the grazing animals so many had left, the predators were doing well off animals dying from drought. Our camp was only permitted in a small portion of Sabi Sands and I'm guessing there were better areas in the reserve. Although we had some great sightings my photo tour guests and I, chose to spend extra time in Kruger where the Sabi River was still flowing. I will return to Sabi Sands and hopefully next time it will live up to it's great reputation.
We saw just about everything that could be seen by daylight: lions and leopards (almost daily), Africa wild dogs, spotted hyenas and their young, elephant herds, giraffes, rhinos, Cape buffalo, tortoises, hippos, giant land snails, dung beetles, baboons, vervet monkeys, half a dozen kinds of antelope, and birds galore. Only one crocodile because the river was dry. No cheetahs, which are less common there and difficult to spot because of the tree density.
Our &Beyond guides from Kirkman's Kamp were incredibly knowledgeable. They knew the mammals, birds, insects, plants. When they found out we were more interested in insects, plants and soil/geology than the average safari-goer, they made sure to point out more of these features and give us opportunities to discover.
It rained one of six game drives. The safari vehicles are open, so raincoats and ponchos were a must. Some people in our group opted not to go out, but we went and didn't regret it. The rains brought African wild dogs, and the rain was not cold so it wasn't too uncomfortable.
The other days were hot and dry (we went in March, late summer, in a drought year). That meant few mosquitos. We forgot about the heat when we were watching animals, and when the vehicles were moving we had a breeze.
In the private reserves, it's permitted to be out on game drives after dark. We did not do any specifically night drives, but drove back at dusk/nightfall on our afternoon safaris. We saw nightjars, the Southern constellations and a few other things.
Staying in a private reserve afforded us the opportunity to go off-road in appropriate conditions and meant few encounters with other safari vehicles. Because of this, we got closer/better viewing of lions, leopards, elephants and rhinos than we might have otherwise.... more
Diverse and abundant wildlife with guides and trackers who go above and beyond.
I stayed at the Idube Lodge and the staff was very friendly especially the ladies in the kitchen. The local staff was very quick to offer up smiles and say hello and even lend a hand with greetings in local languages.....more than one! The game drives and access to the Sabi Sand were the shining star in my experience here. (I managed to poison myself by spraying the "Sleep Ease" bugspray in my room with the doors closed....not advised!). However, I got very,very lucky where I had a vehicle all to myself on one drive........Also quite unique was my guide, Promise, a local, whom I was told by a driver is a Prince in his tribe.....can't get much luckier than that! This was an unforgettable experience!
Sabi Sands Is Everything You Want For A Honeymoon Safari
My husband and I decided to take a six day trip to Sabi Sands Game Reserve for our honeymoon. We stayed at andBeyond Exeter River Lodge. It's one of the many five-star lodges that share Sabi Sands Game Reserve. First, the reserve and Kruger National Park do not share a fence. Therefore, all the animals migrate from Kruger to Sabi Sands and back. This allows for some amazing viewing. We saw all the big five, more than one. Yes, Lions, Leopards (even leopard cubs!), African Buffalo, Elephants, and Rhinos. Because we were on a private reserve, we did not have to deal with traffic from normal cars. We took two drives everyday, once in the early morning and one in the afternoon to sunset. All he drives are conducted in open large green jeeps with a professional tracker and a knowledgeable ranger. They share information on the location of animals with all the rangers so no matter where you are, you can see the animal you came to see!
What I also loved, is that the animals are very use to the green jeeps. Lions, Leopards, Rhinos, Wildebeest, Buffalo, they will all come very close to the jeep. That gives for an amazingly spiritual experience and if you are a photographer, great photos. You can even take private drives. The Bush itself if beautiful. You rarely see another jeep unless on the main road and you can enjoy the silence of nature. The rangers and trackers know exactly where to place the jeep for optimal viewing.
The animals! What can I say about the animals. They are beautiful. People often come to see the "Big Five" but end up falling in love with all the animals in the Bush. There were a few bird watchers on the safari and they also saw tons of birds. Especially migration birds. I even saw an owl! The rangers also made sure to conduct all business in a way that was not harmful to the animals. Their love for nature was clear. It made me confident I was "doing no harm" to the best of our ability!
The particular place we stayed at andBeyond Exeter River Lodge was a dream come true. We had a personal butler, Positive, who made us feel like family. Our Ranger, Mark, and Tracker, Chris, were true professionals. Knowledgeable in every way. Because our lodge did not have a fence, I often spent lunch and breakfast watching herd of elephants drink water from the river in front of us and antelope play. We had a few run ins with monkeys, but they were even a joy! In our room, we had a private plunge pool and I spent hours watching birds, drinking gin and tonics, and looking at the wildlife in front of me. It was an absolutely wonderful experience that I feel could not be replicated anywhere else. ... more
Arid bush landscape with good mammal sightings
The wildlife in Sabi Sands was great with good views of several leopards and lions, many elephants, spotted hyena and white rhino and even a couple of black rhino during our two night stay. Highlight was a pack of wild dogs that had just killed an impala and watching a group of spotted hyena at their den. A nice black mamba showed well besides the car on one of our game drives and the bird life around the lodge (Nkorho Bush Lodge) was very good. Just in the bush there were fewer birds than expected.
The lodge itself was very nicely situated with very comfortable rooms and very friendly guides and staff. The game drives were well organized and the guides knew their wildlife well. The guides also always put the wildlife first which was very positive, but still did all they could to allow for good close sightings and for taking photographs without causing the animals any disturbance.
The weather was a mix of sun, cloud and some rain but the temperatures remained mild.
The cars during the drive could seat 10 people, but we were never more than 7 which was very comfortable. It did rain a couple of times, and it was a little disappointing that the cars did not have a roof. We were nevertheless supplied with rain protection, but with heavy rain it was necessary to return to the lodge.
During both morning and evening drives it was relatively cold, mainly due to the strong wind. Both a Jumper and jacket were usually necessary, at least for me.
Food was OK although that would not be a reason to return. Everything else would be a reason to return though.
Cheetah Plains in Sabi Sands is a must do. Incredible Wildflie, Impeccable Service, 5-star!
We spent 4 days at Cheetah Plains and it was the most incredible experience I've ever had. I'm a seasoned traveler and have stayed at 5-star resorts before but the luxury suites, the staff and the impeccable service (attention to detail was out of this world!), the delicious meals, the setting situated by two watering holes for wildlife watching all day long, and the knowledgeable guides putting us on thousands of animals within seconds, made it a truly amazing experience.
The meals served indoors and out were spectacular. What better way to eat than outdoors with a fire under tea lights in the trees watching elephants at the watering hole while enjoying delicious and beautifully decorated dishes.
The wildlife viewing with seeing the big five on the first game drive followed by 11 separate lions, cheetahs, leopards, buffalo, monkeys, hippos, zebras, giraffes, elephants, and so on was amazing. We expected to have minutes between seeing animals and to be far away but instead, we were within feet and less than 5 minutes apart. Absolutely stunning. Plus the two watering holes at the resort granted all day wildlife viewing as elephants, giraffes, buffalo, deer, and others came down to enjoy a drink/dip.
The entire experience far exceeded our expectations and we will definitely return to Cheetah Plains and Sabi Sands.... more
This was more of a canned experience with the rangers knowing exactly where to take you. For that type of experience however, it was exceptional.
Up-close and Personal in Sabi Sands Game Reserve
To go on a safari is a lifetime opportunity. But when the opportunity appears, the reality also kicks in. Why is it so expensive? Which game reserve to choose? How to get there?
"It's a walking zoo! Why would you spend so much money on it?", said my friend and declined to go on a safari with me. For months, I debated and researched whether to do one. Finally I decided that I shall go big or go home. To fly for 30 hours and not to experience the true Africa, the one that I as a kid watched on Discovery channel was not an option. So I went, crossing the country all the way to the border with Zimbabwe and Mozambique, to Sabi Sands game reserve.
There where three requirements that had to be fulfilled in my mind: I wanted to see the big five in natural setting where they roam freely, I wanted to stay as close to them as possible - hence, in the bush, and I wanted to see leopards. The former one was the most challenging requirement because leopards are masters of disguise and could be seen only when they allow to. However, for some reason leopards love Sabi Sands, which turns to have the greatest concentration of them. Without a doubt this was the place where I had to be!
Following South African plantations of oranges, bananas and olives, behind the mountains of evergreen trees, lies the wilderness disconnected from the civilization with an electrical fence. This is the place where nature sets the rules and men oblige to them if they do not want to be hurt or in the worst case eaten. Little did I know that after three days of staying in the bush, my life will never be the same again.
What really changed is my appreciation of nature and my understanding of human vulnerability. National parks are the last pieces of wilderness where human involvement is forbidden; where African elephant dies from starvation after loosing its sixth and last set of molar teeth and where the lion leading it's pride will kill all cubs that are not his in order to secure his hereditary line. This truly is the survival of the fittest. For the first time ever I also felt vulnerable but in an odd way.
The night before flying over from Cape Town to Johannesburg to embark on the journey to Sabi Sands, I ate a kebab that consisted of ostrich, impala, kudu, and wildebeast meat. 24 hours later I saw those animals in the natural setting, and realized that I would have to turn vegetarian because I would not know how to kill these huge and rather vicious beasts.
The safari was everything and so much more. It is an unpredictable game where one roams at dawn and dusk looking for animals in the waste land that is occasionally disrupted with an acacia or marula tree and an elephant right below it. Yet after 1.5 days of looking for big cats, I got impatient. I stopped caring for zebras, elephants and giraffes. What I wanted were lions and leopards that were hidding somewhere in high savannah grass, but there was no sign of any.
After series of false baboon alarms on a potential predator sighting, our fortune finally turned around. Our tracker received a call that a leopard was spotted, and we sped to the location in what was described by everyone as Ferrari safari. My last wish of what to expect from a safari was about to come true.
What happened in the next 12 hours following the news of leopard sighting deserves a blog entry on its own. It was National Geographic worth material, and the experience that defined awesomeness of my safari trip.
In the late afternoon, a male leopard was taking a nap hidden in the tall savannah grass before heading for a stroll, marking his territory, and coming to a clearing to look for a prey. His meticulously planned hunt went well into the night until he interrupted our dinner. Around 9.30 pm as we sat down around the lodge fire, our guide started shouting at us to jump back onto the truck and head into the bush because killing sounds were heard. Not even 100 m from our camp, same leopard that we spotted earlier today, was dragging a baby deer. Grabbing the deer by its neck, he dug his claws deep into the tree bark, and in few jumps, climbed up, securing the prey on the branches right above me. Deer's urine and blood started dripping right in front of us while ripped deer's hair flew in the air like fluffy feathers. The leopard moved from the deer's neck to buttocks, and the feast finally began. So there I was - in the deepest part of Africa and away from civilization - witnessing something that only a few get to see. At this point there were only two sounds that I could hear - crickets in the distance, and leopard's teeth ripping deer's flesh, fiber by fiber. As grotesque as it sounds, it was one of the most beautiful things one could experience and the act of nature at its finest. Mesmerized with the view, we all watched the leopard eat for over 40 min. before heading back to the camp to have our dinner.
Many say that an African safari is one of the lifetime experiences. But once you experience it, you realise how addictive it becomes, and how one safari is not enough. After visiting Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands, I want to experience this continent so much more. I want to go to Namibia where red desert sand dunes collide with the Atlantic and where lions roam on the beaches, to Botswana where hippos and crocodiles fill up river banks, and to Tanzania where thousands of wildebeest and zebras create stampedes that are earth shattering. ...
The following was an excerpt from my blog. For more entries and pictures, visit: 'wohesitation.wordpress.com'... more