User Reviews – Sabi Sands

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In Sabi Sand Game Reserve, you really do get what you pay for!
Overall rating

During our trip to Kruger National Park, we felt that it would only do the trip justice if we spent a few nights in Sabi Sand Game Reserve before heading back. We had read about the differences between the two and were quite certain we would be short changing ourselves if we didn't pay a visit to Sabi Sand. We stayed in Umkumbe Lodge which is one of the smaller lodges in Sabi Sand. That being said, Umkumbe brought along with it a wonder crew ranging from the chef to the tour guides. There was alot of personal attention and you could see and feel the extra mile they go to making sure your stay is as comfortable as can be. We were a family of vegetarians and they made it a point to make special meals for us and they were honestly some of the best meals we had on the trip. The game drives were alot of fun, the guides were very knowledgeable and the coordination of the drives was great. The highlight was spotting the rhinos and it helped us complete our list of the big 5 (of which we had seen the other 4 in Kruger). I would recommend Sabi Sand for anyone who has the ability to pocket the price you would be paying for it, but once that staged is past, be prepared to have a thrilling, luxurious and very pleasant time in Sabi Sand.

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Very nice place, to make a safari, beautiful landscapes and a lot of animals.

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We had great wildlife sightings in Sabi Sands, including a very close encounter with a pair of mating leopards! Incredible!

We did find that we saw more people and safari trucks than in Timbavati, and therefore the "bush vibe" is not the same. We felt more "in the wild" in Timbavati.

The game viewing was fantastic. We had close encounters with elephants, lions eating a kill, rhinos with a calf, and even saw a pair of leopards mating - right beside the Land Rover! We did have one quiet game drive, which goes to show you that the animals are wildlife, and nature is unpredictable. But our guide was determined to get us a close encounter with a leopard, and during the last hour of hour final drive, we sure did!!! Other highlights included sundowners (cocktails at sunset in the bush), and wild life viewing right from the dining area (some a little too close!!).

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The great private lodges and the big five are all here. Savanna Lodge was where we stayed and loved.

I could not imagine a better safari experience than that provided to us at Arathusa - just superb.
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Where do I start?

The accommodation was very comfortable and spotlessly clean. We had a hut on the edge of the waterhole, this meant that in the rest periods between game drives we did not get much rest - too many animals visiting the waterhole to keep us entertained !!

The game drives - early morning and late afternoon each day - were well organised. Our guide Rein and Tracker DeBeer really knew their stuff. The wildlife was abundant - we had not realised just how close we got to all of the animals. We had been told that on a 3 day safari, if you saw all of the Big 5, as well as the other numerous animals, you did well. We actually had a 5 day safari, but on day 2 we saw the Big 5 in about 90 minutes !!! There were 3 vehicles leaving the lodge each drive, and all kept in close touch on the two-ways, to ensure that if one group saw a particular sight, the others were informed so they could get there too. On the last day we even saw a pack of African Wild dogs with a kill, which is extremely rare.

The food was excellent - only about 30 guests, with the most enthusiastic chef - Malcolm - announcing full details of each meal before it was served. Other facilities were good as well - pool overlooking the waterhole, good bar, massage and beauty salon (excellent massages by the way). Everything was very well organised and always on time.

Would recommend this resort to anybody without qualification - but definitely get a hut on the edge of the waterhole.

Rich wildlife viewing
Overall rating

Spent only 3 days on safari at one of the beautiful intimate lodges in the Sabi Sand but was treated to a tremendous number of sightings! Apart from the Big 5 (on least 3 occasions each, elephants on every game drive!), we'd also seen the cheetah (albeit from a distance due to a fire causing the ground to be temporarily restricted) and the highly endangered African Wild Dog. Saw zebra as well even though they are usually rare in this wooded bush. Had also seen lion cubs, leopard cubs, lions mating and a fight over a wildebeest calf. Extremely exciting! The sunsets during the evening sundowners were gorgeous too and there is a real rugged beauty in the bush. You'd need a good and experienced ranger-tracker team though, and we're lucky we had a really good one!

Everyone should visit here at least once in a lifetime
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What an amazing time we had in Sabi Sand. It was our first time on safari and wow, what an incredible experience we had! We did not expect to see so many beautiful animals so close up. We loved the off-roading too tracking cheetahs, leopards and lions. What an adrenalin rush that gives you! It was the springtime when we visited so it was very easy to spot the animals. The river beds were dry and we enjoyed our morning bush mix stops there with the vervet monkeys and baboons overhead in the trees. One night we watched the sun set on the river whilst the elephants played in the puddles. Early one morning we tracked a hippo moving from one water hole to another. So many wonderful memories of the most beautiful animals will be forever imprinted on our minds. We have already booked to return again as four days did not seem enough!

Unforgettable Experience
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Everything about our stay at Nottens was superb. We saw so many different animals every time we went on a drive. Both our driver and spotter were really good. The food was amazing and so much of it. The camp itself was lovely, especially our rooms with candles and hurricane lamps, so much nicer than electric lights. We couldn't fault anything about this safari, as it was everything we wanted and more. The staff were all lovely and very helpful.

The best game reserve experience I've ever had!
Overall rating

Within 24 hours we had seen the big 5 and within 48 hours we had seen the big 7 including a wild dog kill. What more could you ask for?
The accomodation was absolutely stunning with an outdoor shower and a huge dining area that looked out over the water hole.
Each game drive consisted of coffee & rusks in the morning and G&T's in the evening as we watched the beautiful African sunset go down.

The wildlife was absolutely incredible with new things to see around every bend. Being able to see these wild animals up close, in their natural habitat was a once in a life experience that cannot compare to anything else. The beauty of Sabi Sands is that it's a huge area that enables the animals to cross over from other parks, but it isn't crowded at all. In our total time there (one week) we probably only saw two or three other tourists.

I cannot recommend Sabi Sands highly enough!

Sabi Sands - An Amazing Experience
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I stayed at Mala Mala for four days before volunteering on a Primate and Leopard project through Earth Watch. It was a fantastic experience. I was hoping to see Leopards in Sabi Sands, and I was please to have sighting every day we visited. We also had some great sightings of lion, elephant, endangered rhino, zebra, girafe, and more. I wanted to see a snake and our guide was nice enough to point out a cobra slithering into its den.

Our guide was knowledgable and passionate about wildlife and consideration. He was interested in making sure we all were seeing the kinds of things we were interested in and generally having a great time. Everyone in the truck with us were the lovely people; everyone got along and were respectful of each other.

I have been to Africa three other times. The one things I will say about South Africa and Sabi Sands in general is that it is more focused on driving out, seeing animals, returning to camp, eating. Repeat. I have taken longer walking safari trips where we had an opportunity to meet more people who live in the area and see the countryside as well as see the animals. In those instances I got to learn about the history of the country, the geography of the land, the different cultures that lived in the area, and the different wildlife. It was a much more holistic experience.

I would recommend stopping in Sabi Sands or similar for an opportunity to get a good look at all the different animals on a short stay, but would also urge anyone with an interest in Africa to take more than 5 days and really experience the country and all it has to offer. As mentioned, I paired four days in Sabi Sands with an Earth Watch volunteer program.

Also note: Sabi Sands is really expensive. It is great because you really get to see the animals in without feeling completely packed into a truck. The lodges are small and everyone is already really nice and helpful. That kind of thing will cost you, so I think it is a personal choice. Many people I know have self driven through Kruger and enjoyed it.

Average User Rating

  • 4.9/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

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