The Sabi Sand Game Reserve is adjacent to the Kruger National Park. It is a collection of privately-owned game reserves which have dropped their fences by mutual agreement. There is also no fence between the Sabi Sand Game Reserve and the Kruger National Park, allowing the free movement of animals through the reserve. It is known as South Africa's top luxury safari destination and the best place in the world for viewing leopards in the wild.

Highlights
  • Private reserve and part of Greater Kruger Park
  • Large selection of luxury safari lodges
  • Excellent Big 5 game viewing
  • Best wild leopard sightings in the world
  • Off-road game drives and night drives are possible
  • Easy to access by road or by air

The Sabi Sand Game Reserve is home to South Africa's top luxury safari lodges Singita, Londolozi, Lion Sands, Dulini and many others. The game viewing in the Sabi Sand is excellent. Although the animals and bush are exactly the same as in the rest of the Kruger National Park, your chances of seeing the Big Five are better in the Sabi Sand due to the number of open safari vehicles that are out on game drives at any one time, all of them having radio contact with each other. This means if one vehicle spots something exciting, the sighting will be called in on the radio to alert other vehicles in the area.

Sabi Sand Game Drive

Open safari vehicle game drive in Sabi Sand

(Image: Wild Wings Safaris)

Off-road game drives

A key difference between the Sabi Sand Game Reserve and the Kruger National Park is that the open safari vehicles are permitted to drive off-road to get closer to the animals, something prohibited in the Kruger Park itself where vehicles have to stay on the roads. This means the quality of big cat sightings are usually better than in the Kruger Park, and photography is easier because you can position the vehicle with the sun behind you.

Also, trackers are able to follow the tracks of Big 5 animals, making it easier to find some of the more elusive ones. Game drives usually continue after dark with spotlights, allowing you to view the nocturnal animals and predators which are more active at night.

These things, along with the ideal habitat, have made the Sabi Sand famous as the best place in the world to see leopards in the wild. They are seen often, and you can get very close.

Sabi Sand Leopard

Close up sightings of leopards are common in the Sabi Sand

(Image: Onne Vegter)

Getting there

You can drive yourself, or book a road transfer with us, or fly there from Johannesburg, Nelspruit or Skukuza. The Sabi Sand Game Reserve is roughly divided into two sections, the area north of the Sand River and the area south of the Sand River. If you are driving to a northern lodge, you need to enter through the Gowrie Gate in the north. If you are going to a lodge in the south, you need to use Newington Gate or Shaw's Gate.

It is not possible to drive from a southern entry gate to a lodge in the north, or vice versa. That means if you are staying at two lodges, one in the north and then another lodge in the south, you will have to exit the reserve and drive around to get to your next lodge. The game viewing in the north and the south is exactly the same.

It is also possible to fly direct from Johannesburg to one of the lodge airstrips in the Sabi Sand. The flight takes about 1 hour. Please ask us for details.

Lodges

There are a large number of privately-owned game lodges and safari camps in the Sabi Sand, priced from around $ 300 per person up to over $ 2000 per person per night. These rates are usually all-inclusive, although at most of the less expensive lodges drinks are not included. At the more expensive lodges, you can generally expect world-class service and luxury accommodation, while at the less expensive lodges the accommodation could be smaller and more basic.

The game viewing is similar at all the lodges, except that some lodges have better traversing areas and better access to the main rivers, the Sand River and Sabie River, which does impact the game viewing somewhat. And keep in mind that the more upmarket lodges usually take up to 6 people per vehicle during game drives, while the more affordable lodges fill the vehicle with up to 9 people (3 rows of 3 seats per row).

A couple of lodges are situated close to the western and south-western boundary of the reserve, and from some of them, it is possible to see the lights and hear the sounds of the nearby villages at night. While this is an authentic aspect of Africa, some prefer a more remote lodge where there is no sign or sound of human inhabitants nearby.

Some lodges accept children, others don't. Some lodges have rooms with private-viewing decks, plunge pools and outside showers, and are great as honeymoon destinations. Other lodges are more suitable for families with children. Some lodges offer tented accommodation, others have brick and thatch chalets.

This is where our expertise and local knowledge comes in. Tell us your requirements and we will recommend the perfect lodge for your safari, within your budget.

Wildlife

The wildlife in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve is the same as in the Kruger National Park, and includes the Big 5 (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo), as well as giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, warthog, kudu, impala, waterbuck, hippo, crocodile, wild dog, cheetah, hyena, jackal, baboons, monkeys and many smaller antelope and cat species. The birdlife is also prolific.

We recommend a minimum stay of 2 nights in the Sabi Sand, while the ideal stay would be 3 to 4 nights. If you have more than 4 nights available, you may want to combine the Sabi Sand with another destination, for some variety.

Our take on the Sabi Sand

We love the Sabi Sand Game Reserve! After the Kruger National Park, it is South Africa's most famous safari destination. But it is also South Africa's most expensive safari destination, with many lodges priced above $ 1000 USD pp per night. But if your budget allows it, you won't easily find a better place to see the Big Five up close, especially leopards, which the Sabi Sand is famous for.

If there is a downside, it would be that the focus of many visitors (and, therefore, of the guides, too) is to see the Big 5 and, in particular, the big cats, which means the general game viewing is often not a priority here. Some guides (not all of them) race around from predator sighting to predator sighting, barely stopping for the more common animals like warthogs, giraffe, zebra, and various antelope species.

Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Sabi Sand Game Reserve

The Sabi Sand Game Reserve is adjacent to the Kruger National Park. It is a collection of privately-owned game reserves which have dropped their fences by mutual agreement. There is also no fence between the Sabi Sand Game Reserve and the Kruger National Park, allowing the free movement of animals through the reserve. It is known as South Africa's top luxury safari destination and the best place in the world for viewing leopards in the wild.

Sabi Sabi Selati Lodge
Sabi Sabi Selati Camp, Deck At Selati Camp

Sabi Sabi Selati Camp is an award-winning safari lodge situated between the Sabie and Sand Rivers and lies within the game migration path from the Kruger National Park. Located on the banks of the Msuthlu riverbed, the lodge offers expansive bush views and rewarding game viewing all year round. Accommodation varies from luxury suites to the romantic honeymoon suite to an exclusive presidential suite.

Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge
Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge, Amani Spa At Earth Lodge

Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge is a unique, luxury 5-star lodge that lies on the banks of the Sabie River within the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Chosen by National Geographic as one of the "Unique Lodges of The World", Earth Lodge is in one of the oldest and largest proclaimed private reserves, part of the greater Kruger National Park, and known as South Africa's top safari destination, offering outstanding game viewing.

Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge
Bush Lodge Waterhole View

Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge is a 5-star lodge situated in the heart of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, one of South Africa's prime private safari destinations and also part of the greater Kruger National Park. Bush Lodge overlooks a waterhole and promises a rewarding, luxurious safari experience all year round.

Sabi Sabi Little Bush Camp
Sabi Sabi Little Bush Camp, Wild Dog On Game Drive

Recently renovated (Feb 2016), Sabi Sabi Little Bush Camp is situated on the banks of the Msuthlu River in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve which forms part of the greater Kruger National Park. This area is renowned as one of South Africa's top safari destinations with excellent game viewing. Little Bush Camp is an intimate 6-suite camp ideal for small groups, families and friends.

Londolozi Founders Camp
Deck4

Londolozi Founders Camp in an exclusive luxury lodge in the heart of the game-rich Sabi Sand Game Reserve. One of 5 camps at Londolozi, this intimate lodge features ten superbly styled luxurious chalets, overlooking the magnificent Sand River.

Londolozi Varty Camp
Londolozi Varty Chalet

Londolozi Varty Camp is one of five camps in the exclusive and very luxurious Londolozi Private Game Reserve, situated in the famous game-rich Sabi Sand Game Reserve, which forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park. Londolozi Varty Camp offers eight luxurious chalets and two gracious suites, magnificent views over the Sand River and prime game viewing opportunities.

Londolozi Tree Camp
Londolozi Tree Camp Bathroom

Londolozi Tree Camp is the most stylish family run camp in Africa. This romantic camp comprises six sumptuous suites furnished in African safari style, each with its own private oasis - a plunge pool and luxurious sala (outdoor covered contemplation deck). Londolozi Tree Camp is located in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, sharing unfenced borders with the Kruger National Park.

Lion Sands River Lodge
Lion Sands River Lodge Pool

Lion Sands River lodge is a stylish, comfortable 5-star safari destination. The lodge overlooks the Sabie River and Kruger National Park beyond, and offers some of the best game viewing in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. The lodge has 18 luxury thatched suites, private wooden viewing decks, conference facilities, a health spa and gym.

Dulini Lodge
Accommodation - Sabi Sand - South Africa - Dulini Lodge

Dulini is an exclusive and intimate private game lodge in the Sabi Sand Reserve, sharing unfenced borders with the Greater Kruger Park. The area offers some of the most superb game viewing and is renowned for its common sightings of the Big 5. A maximum of 12 guests can be accommodated in six luxurious stone and thatch cottages, each with a view over the seasonal Mabrak River.

Dulini River Lodge
River_lodge_dining_deck

Totally modern with every luxury, comfort and convenience, Dulini River Lodge offers you old-fashioned luxury, indulgence and personalised service. Its six luxurious suites are elevated to look over the perennial Sand River and its bushveld surrounds.

Leadwood Lodge
Leadwood Lodge Dining

Dulini Leadwood Lodge is the perfect choice if you're looking for something that's intimate, exclusive and luxurious. The lodge's three river-facing suites (four when booked exclusively) are well-spaced apart for privacy, making it the ultimate honeymoon or discerning small group destination.

Leopard Hills
Feature Accommodation - South Africa - Sabi Sand - Leopard Hills Private Game Lodge

Leopard Hills is situated within the Sabi Sand Game Reserve and forms part of the greater Kruger National Park. This luxury 5-star lodge is built on a hill that overlooks a natural waterhole and boasts eight glass-fronted suites with spectacular views.

Elephant Plains Game Lodge
Elephant plains game lodge suite

Elephant Plains Game Lodge is situated on the banks of the dry Manyeleti river overlooking a permanent waterhole in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve within the Greater Kruger National Park. This affordable 4-star lodge is an excellent safari destination offering prime game viewing and perfect photographic opportunities.

Arathusa Safari Lodge
Jamala Villa

Arathusa Safari Lodge is a reasonably affordable game lodge situated in the northern Sabi Sand Game Reserve, which forms part of the greater Kruger National Park. The lodge looks out over the open plains and African bush.

Nkorho Bush Lodge
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Dulini is an exclusive and intimate private game lodge in the Sabi Sand Reserve, sharing unfenced borders with the Greater Kruger Park. The area offers some of the most superb game viewing and is renowned for its common sightings of the Big 5. A maximum of 12 guests can be accommodated in six luxurious stone and thatch cottages, each with a view over the seasonal Mabrak River.

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