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3-Day Sabi Sands Safari Tours

If you've come to Africa to see big cats up close, there are few better places to do so than Sabi Sand Game Reserve. This prestigious reserve is home to what are possibly the continent’s most habituated leopards. It also offers great lion viewing and a good chance of spotting the rest of the Big Five (that is, elephant, buffalo and rhino). Ecologically, Sabi Sands is basically an extension of the immense Kruger National Park, with which it shares open borders, allowing animals to move freely between the two. Sabi Sands is unusual logistically because it is managed as one ecological unit, but it actually comprises several smaller private reserves. These include such five-star properties as Londolozi, Sabi Sabi and Singita.

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1-16 of 16 Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve 3-day trips, itineraries, holidays, packages & vacations

6 Questions About 3-Day Sabi Sands Safaris


6 Questions About 3-Day Sabi Sands Safaris

Answered by Philip Briggs

Is a 3-day Sabi Sands safari too short?

“Put it this way, 3 days certainly isn't too long for a Sabi Sands safari. Indeed, bearing in mind that a 3-day safari only allows for a 2-night stay and a likely maximum of four game drives, any less would be selling yourself short. In terms of seeing all the Big Five, you stand a very good chance of doing this over the course of a 3-day Sabi Sands safari, but your chances do improve over a longer stay. All things considered, if you can afford the extra time, a 4-day safari including 3 nights in the reserve would make for a more rounded, relaxed and productive safari.”


What is a typical day on a Sabi Sands safari?

“A typical day in Sabi Sands starts with a pre-dawn wake-up call, followed by a hot cup of coffee and a rusk (breakfast biscuit), before heading out on a guided morning game drive in an open-sided 4x4. The earliest possible start is essential if you want to make the most of your safari, as this is the time of day when lions, leopards and other carnivores tend to be most active. You’ll probably take a coffee break on the morning game drive, then return to camp for breakfast or brunch. Some lodges might offer you a short guided walk after breakfast to look at plants, birds and other small wildlife. Lunch is usually eaten outdoors, often in view of a water source that attracts wildlife in the midday heat. About 2 hours before sunset, you’ll head out on a guided afternoon game drive, often following up on big cat sightings from earlier the same day. As the light fades, you’ll stop for sundowner drinks and snacks before continuing on a night drive, using a spotlight to locate nocturnal creatures. Dinner often consists of a braai (barbecue) in a rustic wooden shelter known as boma. Don't stay up too late because you’ll be up before dawn again the next morning.”


What is the best time of the year for a 3-day Sabi Sands safari?

“Because the focus is big cats, and the guides are very good at locating them and can drive off-road, there really isn't a bad time of year for a Sabi Sands safari. That said, wildlife viewing tends to be at its best during the Dry season (May to September), when the bush thins out and animals gather at water sources. This is also when rain is least likely to disrupt game drives and pesky mosquitoes are most scarce. Daytime temperatures are most comfortable in the Dry season since it coincides with winter in the southern hemisphere. However, early morning game drives can be seriously chilly at this time of year, so there are climatic advantages in traveling during the summer months of October to April. Other bonuses of a summer safari are that the bush is greener and more photogenic, and birdlife is more colorful and prolific.”


Which animals am I likely to see?

“You can expect to see a good selection of Africa's most iconic wildlife on a 3-day Sabi Sands safari. Sabi Sands is particularly famous for its big cats, especially lion and leopard, both of which tend to be very habituated to vehicles. Of the other large carnivores, black-backed jackal and spotted hyena are most likely, but you also stand a fair chance of spotting cheetah and African wild dog. Smaller carnivores that might be seen on night drives include genet, civet, white-tailed mongoose and more occasionally honey badger, serval or caracal. Other wildlife you can be reasonably certain of seeing in Sabi Sands include elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, warthog, hippo, baboon and a variety of antelope. You’re quite likely to see white rhino in Sabi Sands but would be very lucky to see black rhino. Sabi Sands is also very rewarding for bird watching, since most of the 500-plus bird species recorded in Kruger are also present there.”


What is the best way to get to Sabi Sands?

“The quickest and most straightforward way to get to Sabi Sands is to fly direct from Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport, which is the main air gateway to South Africa. Many people also fly to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport or Skukuza Airport and arrange a road transfer from there, which should take 2 hours or so. It is possible to drive the 500km/310mi from Johannesburg to Sabi Sands. The road is good and the drive should take about 5½ hours. Many tour itineraries drive from Johannesburg rather than fly, and self-drive in a rented car is also an option if your tour doesn’t include a road transfer or flight. Note that while it is permitted to drive directly to your lodge from any of the entrance gates to Sabi Sands, you are not allowed to conduct your own game drives.”


How much will this safari cost?

“The cost of a 3-day Sabi Sands safari ranges from around US$800 to more than US$3,000 per person, depending on the lodge and group size, and whether or not it includes air or road transfers from Johannesburg. All packages will include 2 nights’ accommodation in Sabi Sands, as well as all meals and guided activities (typically two afternoon and two morning game drives). Some lodges also include house wines and beers in their rate. When comparing safari package prices, do check whether or not they include return road transfers or flights from Johannesburg. A seemingly cheap package may turn out to be a lot more expensive if you need to factor in additional transport costs.”


Sabi Sands Reviews

4.7/5 73 Reviews
Stephen Cunliffe  –  
South Africa ZA

Stephen is a travel writer and avid conservationist whose work appears in prestigious magazines such as Africa Geographic and Travel Africa.

Big Five Bonanza

Flanking the unfenced western boundary of the Kruger National Park, the Sabi Sand Game Reserve is Southern Africa’s most exclusive and famous wildlife safari destinations. It is also one of the oldest private nature reserves and the...

Full Review

Emma Gregg  –  
United Kingdom UK

Emma is an award-winning travel writer for Rough Guides, National Geographic Traveller, Travel Africa magazine and The Independent.

Classic Big Five safaris, with superb leopard-watching

Sabi Sands delivers the classic safari experience on a plate. It’s a prime chunk of wildlife-watching territory tucked up against the southern section of Kruger National Park, with no fences between the two. This feast doesn’t come...

Full Review

Daniel Muller  –  
United Kingdom UK
Reviewed: May 22, 2023

It was the best safari I have been on and I have been to Kenya, Tanzania and Kruger before. (not been to Okavango Delta yet, which is probably the pinnacle), but it is the first time I really experienced interaction between all the animals...

Full Review

Sonia  –  
Canada CA
Reviewed: Dec 15, 2022

Incredible sightings everyday, beautiful landscapes, saw big five, up and close with the animals on every drive! Part of the greater kruger area and not fully enclosed reserve, with antipoaching efforts underway making it a great choice...

Full Review

David Gryzick  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Oct 9, 2022

We not only saw all of the animals but we also saw babies of almost all the animals! And our safari drives were not long or arduous. We generally saw a lot of animals on every 3 hour drive. Sabi Sands weakness was they did not have lion...

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Fabiano Santos  –  
Brazil BR
Reviewed: Mar 5, 2020

The wildlife is beautiful and amazing. We got to see all the Big Five and breathtaking scenery. The accommodations were wonderful, as were the meals. Our guides were awesome and did everything to make the drivers perfect.

Full Review