The Sabi Sand Game Reserve consists of a mixed bush savanna habitat and is dominated by acacia, marula and combretum trees, with tamboti and weeping boerbean on raised termite mound thickets. A narrow band of riverine forest lines the Sand River and its drainage lines.
These wooded habitats provide the ideal conditions for leopard, bushbuck and a variety of shade-loving birds. Rock outcrops (koppies) north of the Sand River support trees such as large-leaved rock fig and jacketplum. Two perennial rivers supply the game reserve with a valuable water source. The Sand River flows through the reserve for 50km, while the Sabie River flows on the southern boundary. The sustenance of these rivers ensures that this area boasts one of the highest and most bio-diverse wildlife populations in Africa.
Over 200 different species occur in abundance whilst the ever changing bird life provides even the most experienced ornithologist with rare finds. This sort of environment ensures that the wildlife remain in their territories all year round.
The Sabi Sand should be high on every guest's list as their safari destination of choice when visiting South Africa. Although most of the safari lodges in the Sabi Sand are priced well over US$350 per person per night, Umkumbe Safari Lodge and Arathusa Safari Lodge offer superb affordable options.
We recommend at least 3 nights in the Sabi Sand, and preferably to combine the Sabi Sand with another two to three nights in either of the Klaserie or Timbavati Private Game Reserves, which results in a more rewarding overall safari experience
This is the reserve historically most famous for leopard sightings, and today it lives up to that name. Although one can never predict the animal action in the bush, many guests visiting the Sabi Sand for 3 nights get to view leopard more than once.
One of the most luxurious ways to experience this wildlife wonderland is from a treehouse. Lion Sands Reserve has 3 treehouse options, which cater for guests high up, out in the open.
There are no fences between the Sabi Sand and Kruger, which mean animals roam freely in this pristine part of Africa. The reserve is regarded as one of the best wildlife destinations in South Africa, home to the Big 5, as well as an abundance of general game and prolific bird life. The reserve is also known for the best leopard viewing in Africa.
Impala are the most abundant antelope, with common waterbuck and grey duiker seen on a regular basis. Greater kudu, bushbuck and nyala prefer thickets and riverine forest, whilst buffalo herds graze in tall grasslands. Waterholes attract elephant, white rhino, giraffe and warthog and many other wildlife species during the dry season. Sabi Sabi hosts a remarkable 350 species of birds.
The reserve is divided by the Sand River, an important source of water and a dependable place of refuge for the animals' endless migration. This unique and unspoilt region promises guests a safari experience of a lifetime, which they will experience on 4x4 game drives.
The climate of the Sabi Sand is subtropical with hot, rainy summers and cool, dry winters.
Summer lasts from October to March. The days are hot and humid with occasional afternoon thunderstorms. Daytime temperatures can get very high, up to 32 degrees Celsius, followed by cooler evenings. The dry bushveld comes to life after the rains, however game becomes more challenging to find as numerous water sources fill up and the area becomes lush and green.
Winter is from April until September when it is dry and water is scarce. The days are warm and pleasant, however early mornings and evenings are chilly. Game viewing during winter is excellent and visibility is good, as the animals tend to gather around the water sources and guides know where to find them. Game viewing in the dry winter months is therefore considered the best.
The Sabi Sand Game Reserve offers a variety of camps and lodges to choose from. Umkumbe Safari Lodge is a very affordable safari lodge located in the southern part of the reserve. It is easily accessible from Kruger Mpumalanga Airport, and all the chalets overlook the Sand River bed.
Arathusa Safari Lodge, located in the north of the reserve is one of our guests' favourites. The lodge overlooks a very productive dam, allowing guests to watch wildlife from the comfort of their chalets. Nottens Bush Camp, another well priced lodge, is owner managed and run providing guests with a superb safari experience.
Londolozi Varty Camp is considered to be one of the best safari destinations in the Sabi Sand and Londolozi is renowned for its progressive ecotourism practices and is one of the most sought-after safari destinations in Africa.
There are daily flights from OR Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg International) to various airports bordering the Kruger National Park, being, Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport, as well as Hoedspruit Airport (also called Eastgate).
We recommend that guests use KMIA for lodges in the southern section of the Sabi Sand Reserve and Hoedspruit Airport for lodges in the northern area of the Sabi Sand Reserve. Sun Safaris agents will book these flights for their guests.
Upon arrival at the various airports, guests will either take the car hire option, a road transfer to their lodge or a short air transfer or flight hop to an airstrip (depending on lodge location).
All the Sabi Sand Reserve safari lodges are accessible via self drive with a sedan rental car from anywhere in South Africa. To self drive from Johannesburg will take approximately 6 hours.