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Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve

Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve

Sabi Sand Game Reserve

Sabi Sand Game Reserve was the first private reserve to be established in South Africa and enjoys a long, rich and complex history. In 1898, Sabie Reserve became part of the Sabi Sand and part of Kruger National Park. The national park's boundaries were reset in 1926, then a landowner's collective formed Sabi Private Game Reserves in 1948 as a way to help preserve the wilderness. Called the Sabi Sand Wildtuin, this was the first private game reserve in South Africa. In 1961, a fence nearly 45 miles long was erected along the western boundary of the Sabi Sand Wildtuin to keep wildlife on the reserve for the safety of the animals. In 1988, an electric fence and regular patrols along it were added. Mala Mala became a successful tourist resort in the 1960s, and new camps like the Londolozi and Sabi Sabi sprang up in the 1970s. The money brought in by tourism assured the funding for day-to-day operation of the reserve.

In the 1980s, ecology became a primary focus at Sabi Sand. Management of the reserve became more important than ever, including dealing with bush encroachment, fire and overgrazing. Animals extinct in the area – including white rhinos, sable, eland, nyala, cheetahs and elephants – were brought in from elsewhere. In 1993, the fence between the reserve and Kruger National Park was removed, allowing for free migration.

Today, leaders of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve work in local communities to promote ecology and wildlife conservation. The more than 30-mile border with Kruger is unfenced, and the private reserve boasts some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities in South Africa. Individual properties within the Sabi Sand each offer Big Five viewing, luxury accommodations, great food and more. In all, the Sabi Sand Game Reserve takes in more than 250 square miles of well-managed land, much of which you can enjoy.

If you choose to stay at one of the private properties on this reserve, here are some of the things you're sure to like:

Because accommodation choices on Sabi Sabi Game Reserve are mostly all-inclusive packages, your stay can be expensive. There is also a great emphasis on Big Five animals, meaning that smaller species and birds may be ignored.

Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve
Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve

More About Wildlife At Sabi Sand

If you want to see all the Big Five species in a short period of time, there's no better place to visit than Sabi Sand. You can probably see all 5 species over just a two-day visit. This reserve is also one of the best places in the world to see leopards, which are normally elusive elsewhere. Cheetah and lion sightings are likely to be plentiful as well. Black rhinos are around, but they don't show themselves very often, unlike the white rhinos, which you’re likely to see. Wild dogs are sometimes present.

You'll find the very best viewing opportunities in the dry season from June to September when vegetation is at a minimum and animals come out to rivers and watering holes frequently. August and September are perhaps the best months for visiting since temperatures are warmer.

Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve

Birds, Scenery And More At Sabi Sand

There are more than 300 birds in Sabi Sand, making it an excellent birding destination. You'll find that most guides are very knowledgeable about birds. Walking safaris add to the experience for birdwatchers. Remember that guides from most lodges emphasise large mammal species, so you may want to book a private birding game drive. Consider coming from November to April when migratory birds are present.

Sabi Sand is next to Kruger National Park and shares with it thick vegetation, mostly woodland savannah. There are two rivers that run through the reserve – the Sabi and the Sand, of course – and these provide water for wildlife and excellent views for human visitors. Leopards are especially fond of the areas along the rivers.

Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve

Most lodges in Sabi Sand Game Reserve offer upmarket packages that include accommodations, meals and activities for one price. Drinks may or may not be included. Individual reserves within the ecosystem have unfenced borders and offer excellent wildlife viewing. There are no bad choices in the Sabi Sand.

When choosing which property within the large reserve to choose, consider the size of the property and whether traversing rights are granted to vehicles from other reserves and lodges. When traversing rights are allowed, this can mean busier roads and more competition for prime viewing spots at animal sightings. The best choice is a property that doesn't allow traversing rights or strictly limits traversing. You may also want to choose a property with riverfront views if available.

Most international travelers arrive in South Africa at O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg. You can then take a twice-daily flight to Mala Mala Airfield or fly to Nelspruit Airport/Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (MQP). Traveling from Nelspruit to Sabi Sand by car takes 2 hours or so. Charter flights are available to private airstrips at most lodges. You can also drive from Johannesburg on the N4 to Nelspruit and enter through one of the park’s 3 gates. The distance is more than 300 miles and takes about 5.5 hours over mostly good roads.

Because Sabi Sand Game Reserve is one of South Africa's oldest and best, early booking makes sense. Offering excellent wildlife sightings and premium-level accommodations, it's a place we highly recommend for your African safari adventure.

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Arathusa Safari Lodge
Sabi Sands Game Reserve South Africa

0 reviews

No more than 20 people at a time can enjoy Arathusa Safari Lodge and its variety of accommodation choices. All accommodations feature ensuite bathrooms, decks, mini-bars, full air conditioning and heating and other modern amenities to enhance your stay.

avg/nightR5600.00 SELECT

Elephant Plains Game Lodge
Sabi Sands Game Reserve South Africa

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Affordable and focused on personalized service for just 24 guests at a time, Elephant Plains Game Lodge in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve has accommodation choices that are right for any kind of traveler.

avg/nightR3500.00 SELECT

Kirkman’s Kamp
Sabi Sands Game Reserve South Africa

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The 18 elegant old-world suites of the magnificently restored Harry Kirkman homestead overlook a manicured lawn, a section of African bush and whatever wildlife chooses to wander by.

avg/nightR9075.00 SELECT

Leadwood Lodge
Sabi Sands Game Reserve South Africa

0 reviews

Only four suites means an exclusive experience at Leadwood Lodge – for you and someone special or for your group or family that chooses to rent out the whole lodge. When booked for individual rather than sole use, only three suites are rented, adding to the privacy and exclusivity – and keeping the number of guests on the game drives to six.

avg/nightR12100.00 SELECT

Leopard Hills
Sabi Sands Game Reserve South Africa

0 reviews

Perched high on a rocky outcropping for excellent views and great wildlife sighting opportunities, Leopard Hills Lodge offers excellent amenities and plentiful opportunities to get out and get close to the region's most sought after wildlife species.

avg/nightR11500.00 SELECT

Lion Sands River Lodge
Sabi Sands Game Reserve South Africa

0 reviews

In the famed Sabi Sands Game Reserve near Kruger National Park, Lion Sands River Lodge provides exceptional luxury and excellent game sighting opportunities. This spacious lodge is designed with humans and wildlife equally in mind.

avg/nightR8760.00 SELECT

Nkorho Bush Lodge
Sabi Sands Game Reserve South Africa

0 reviews

Comfortable ensuite chalets with excellent amenities make staying in the bush a true pleasure when you choose Nkorho Bush Lodge in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve as your African safari destination.

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Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge
Sabi Sands Game Reserve South Africa

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Stay in informal comfort and experience great scenery and excellent wildlife sighting opportunities when you choose Sabi Sabi Bush Lounge. There are 25 thatched suites available, each with decks, ensuite bathrooms, lots of glass for great wildlife viewing and air conditioning.

avg/nightR10500.00 SELECT

Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge
Sabi Sands Game Reserve South Africa

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When you choose one of the 14 suites at Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge, you're choosing air-conditioned comfort in an unusual and environmentally sensitive modern luxury lodge where nature and the indoors blend seamlessly.

avg/nightR16500.00 SELECT

Umkumbe Safari Lodge
Sabi Sands Game Reserve South Africa

0 reviews

Perfect for families, couple or individuals, Umkumbe Safari Lodge is just as nice for humans as the surrounding area is for Big Five game and other wildlife species. You'll enjoy excellent amenities and a professional owner-managed experience when you choose Umkumbe.

avg/nightR2895.00 SELECT