Sabi Sand Game Reserve




Sabi Sand Game Reserve is regarded as one of the finest game reserves in southern Africa. It is made up of a group of private game reserves and spans some 65 000 hectares of savanna thornveld. Officially  named Sabi Sand Wildtuin (meaning ‘wilderness’ in Afrikaans), the premier wildlife sanctuary falls within the Greater Kruger National Park. There are no fences between the privately-owned reserves in Sabi Sands and the Kruger National and game moves freely through the wilderness region.

Sabi Sand Game Reserve, or Sabi Sands as locals call it, offers wildlife enthusiasts the ultimate Big 5 safari experience along with a selection of some of the most luxurious safari lodges in South Africa. It is the oldest private reserve in South Africa and dates back to 1934. The 65 000 hectares of wilderness consists of a patchwork of 18 unfenced private game reserves including world-renowned places such as Londolozi, Exeter, Sabi Sabi, Singita and Richard Branson’s Ulusaba. Sabi Sands luxury Kruger safaris lodges and unparalleled bushveld competes with the likes of the Masai Mara.

It is world-renowned as a premier destination for wildlife photography and it’s paradise for bird watchers. Luxury accommodation combined with pristine bushveld in one of the richest biodiversity regions in southern Africa puts Sabi Sand Game Reserve on the bucket list of well-heeled travellers from around the world. Access to the private reserves in Sabie Sands is restricted to guests staying at the luxury lodges on the properties which promises visitors exclusivity to game sightings and privacy at the lodges.

Sabi Sands is situated in the southwestern corner of the Greater Kruger National Park and shares a 50-kilometre border with Kruger Park. It has one of the richest game populations in the country and renowned for its leopard sightings. Sabi Sands is home to the Big 5 which includes elephant, buffalo, rhino, leopard and lion as well as an abundance of antelope and predators. Bird life is prolific with some 500 species recorded in the reserve; many endangered and rare bird species can be found in Sabi Sand.

The reserve was named after two mighty rivers that flow through the protected wildlife reserve. The Sabie River runs along its southern boundary and the Sand River flows from northwest to southwest. The Sabie River is part of the Komati River System and has a catchment area of some 6 320 square kilometres.

Sabie River is one of the most biologically diverse rivers in South Africa and an excellent source of quality water for humans and animals. Sabie River rises in the Drakensburg range of mountains and flows eastward through Mpumalanga Province to the low-lying bushveld regions. It crosses the Greater Kruger National Park and flows on to Mozambique where it exits into the massive Corumana Dam.

The two major rivers are a contributing factor to Sabi Sands being a sought-after safari destination. The private enterprise boasts over 145 species of mammal, 110 reptile species and 30 plus amphibian species aswell as 500 plus bird species and over 330 tree species. The area is not only rich in game but also cultural history with many archaeological sites on the reserve bearing testimony of inhabitants from as far back as the Stone and Iron Age.

Sabi Sands is unashamedly marketed to the high-end traveller. There are marginally cheaper lodges but staying at Sabi Sands is still way out of the budget for your regular South African wildlife enthusiastic. This exclusivity offers guests spectacular game viewing sightings as congestion around animal sightings and kills is negligible and strictly controlled by game viewing protocols.

The only issue with visiting Sabi Sands is it is located in a malaria area. It’s considered a low-risk malaria region and the safari lodges take all precautions to limit mosquito bites and irritations. Consult your GP or a travel clinic for information on taking anti-malaria tablets before arriving at Sabi Sands.

Once back home or during the remainder of your holiday, watch out for symptoms of malaria which includes extreme headaches and fever, much the same as the start of a bad case of flu. See a doctor immediately if you experience any of the malaria symptoms ten days after going to a malaria area.

Where is Sabi Sand Game Reserve

Sabi Sand Game Reserve is located adjacent to the Kruger National Park in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa. It lies in the southwestern corner of what is known as the Greater Kruger National Park. There are three entrances into Sabi Sands: Newington Gate in the west, Gowrie Gate in the far north and Shaw’s Gate in the south of the private reserve.

Why visit Sabi Sand Game Reserve

Sabi Sands is a premier Big 5 safari destination renowned for incredible game viewing, in particular leopard sightings; excellent game rangers and trackers who take you out on two game drives a day; off-road driving which gets you up close to wildlife, in particular lion kills; and superior high-end luxury safari lodges that rival those in the Masai Mara and Okavango Delta.

The only off-putting issue is the cost of staying at Sabi Sands. It’s reserved for those with very big vacation budgets. At the same time, this offers guests exclusivity and a high degree of privacy. There is a strong emphasis on the safari tours of ticking off the Big Five; elephant, buffalo, rhino, leopard and lion. Don’t forget that there is so much more to Sabi Sands than these five famous fellas.

Sabi Sands is particularly popular because of its leopard sightings. For aspiring wildlife photographers, you should get many excellent shots of beautiful leopards lounging in trees. Leopards are territorial and your tracker should easily find a resident leopard and possibly a few cubs on every game drive in Sabi Sands. Wild dogs are also fairly common sightings in Sabi Sands; they’re endangered and strictly monitors so trackers usually have a good idea where to find a hunting pack on an evening game drive.

The best time to visit Sabi Sands is during the Dry season (June to September). The Lowveld region experiences summer rainfall and game viewing from October onwards after the rains arrive is usually not as good as the winter months. The grass is thinner in the Dry season and much of the game congregates around or close to the permanent water sources.

One reason to visit Sabi Sands is for birdwatching. It’s a birders paradise. Sabi Sands’ guides and trackers are all extremely clued up on their birds, particularly the birds of prey. They love escorting bird lovers on walking trails and game drives as it takes a little bit of the emphasis off the Big 5. The best time to visit Sabi Sands if you’re a bird enthusiast is from November to April, when the migratory birds are present. The summer months are not the best game viewing months so if you’re interested in a combination of great game viewing and bird watching, the best time to visit is towards the end of summer in April.

History of Sabi Sand Game Reserve

The original Sabie Reserve was proclaimed in 1898. The man behind this iconic initiative was the president of the Transvaal Republic, Paul Kruger. He proposed the region be declared a protected wildlife sanctuary because of concern over unchecked hunting and rampant poaching. It would be some 12 years later that Paul Kruger’s proposal finally came to fruition and South Africa’s precious wildlife were provided with a safe haven to roam freely.

The area between the Sabie and Crocodile rivers was named Sabie Reserve and declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1898. Hunting was severely protected and conservation programmes initiated to boost depleted game numbers. The National Parks Act was proclaimed in 1926 and Sabie Reserve and Shingwedzi Reserve were combined to become the Kruger National Park. Under this act, the wildlife sanctuary became a state sponsored national reserve and private landowners whose farms fell with the Sabie Reserve were excised from the Kruger Park.

In 1948, the private landowners owners set up a formal association to amalgamate the private reserves that bordered the southwestern boundary of the Kruger. Sabi Sand Private Reserve was created and would later be renamed Sabi Sand Wildtuin (meaning ‘wilderness’ in Afrikaans). Of that group of pioneering private game reserve owners, six families still own land in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve with third and fourth generations still living off the land.

Fences were erected between the Sabi Sand and the Kruger National Park in 1961 because of the threat of foot and mouth disease and hunting concessions on the private lands adjacent to the Kruger. In 1993, after exhaustive negotiations, the fences between Sabi Sand and the Kruger National Park were taken down and the Greater Kruger National Park was established as an expansive wilderness region.

The land that Sabi Sands Game Reserve now occupies was previously used for subsistence farming, mostly cattle farms and some tropical fruit farming. There was a shortage of water at the time and private landowners assisted local communities by putting in boreholes and dams. These boreholes and dams were kept intact when Sabi Sands became a private game reserve and are a valuable source of permanent water supply for the wildlife.

Sabi Sand Game Reserve is home to landowners who care passionately about conservation and the well-being of communities living adjacent to the reserve. Environmental management programmes and studies include, among others; alien plant control, micro catchment management to combat erosion, monitoring wildlife and habitat densities, anti-poaching and control of runaway fires. Most luxury lodges in the Sabi Sands have initiated their own social responsibility programmes geared to uplift neighbouring communities.

Setting the trend for luxury lodges

Sabi Sands set the trend in South Africa for high-end luxury safari lodges. In the 1970s and 1980s, accommodation at the Kruger National Park was limited to the traditional rondavels (round huts) and family bungalows. There was little on the tourism market in the Kruger region for travellers who have a taste for the finer things in life.

Family homes were converted in to beautifully decorated safari lodges with touches of modern elegance seamlessly integrating with an authentic African bushveld experience. Originally, the lodges were decorated with the “old hunting” colonial-era safari theme but most today are modern and contemporary masterpieces. A stay at a luxury lodge in Sabi Sands is as much about the architectural and décor experience as it is about the Big 5 experience.

Most lodges in Sabi Sands offer luxurious pamper treatments at their own spa and wellness centres. There’s no skimping when it comes to treating their guests and most establishments set up beautifully appointed spas in a bushveld oasis with top quality therapists seeing to their guests.

Coupled with award-winning head chefs at the helm with a team of culinary magicians, the most qualified game rangers and trackers in the industry and professional service staff; a stay at any lodge in Sabi Sands is on par with the best of the best in the world.

Rich in cultural history

The Greater Kruger National Park is rich in cultural heritage and is as popular for its archaeological wonders as it is for its wildlife. There is ample evidence in the Kruger Park and Sabi Sands that inhabitants from the Stone Age and Iron Age lived in or passed through the region. This includes Stone Age artefacts, Bushmen paintings and trading artefacts linked to the Arab, Portuguese and Dutch traders that traversed the region many moons ago.

The Voortrekkers passed through the game-rich area as well as the Shangaan tribe who were fleeing tribal territory wars with King Shaka and the Zulus. Ancient traders the likes of Joäo Albasini crisscrossed the region, creating a network of trading routes which started in Lourenço Marques (now Maputo in Mozambique) and reached inland as far as the Lowveld and even the Great Zimbabwe Ruins.


Big 5 safari experience at Sabi Sands

Sabi Sands is home to the Big Five which includes leopard, lion, rhino, buffalo and elephant. This term was given to the five most dangerous animals to hunt but over the years has been adopted by safari operators to describe the five best sightings in game reserves.

The Big 5 are exciting to see but there’s so much more to the Sabi Sands bushveld in the big guys. Sabi Sands, in particular, is well known for its incredible leopard sightings but the reserve also has an exciting lineup of antelope and predators as well as incredible birdlife.

Typical day at a safari lodge in Sabi Sand Game Reserve

The beauty of a safari tour at Sabi Sands is each day is the same but promises new and exciting finds. Days start very early with a 5.30am wakeup call and a quick cup of coffee and rusk. Each morning starts with an early game drive in open 4×4 safari vehicles. Your guide will stop at a spectacular vantage point for a coffee and snack break. Stretch your legs and soak in the peace and tranquility of a gorgeous morning in the bushveld.

Guests return to the lodge after a 3-hour game drive and it’s time for a hearty breakfast. Most of the luxury safari lodges in Sabi Sands have their own excellent spa and wellness facilities which is a great way to spend the morning, or you can lounge outside in the privacy of your own deck and do a bit of birdwatching. Lunch is light but delicious and a prelude to a lovely afternoon sleep.

Guests meet back at the main lodge for a decadent afternoon tea before departing on the afternoon safari tour at around 4.30pm. Another 3-hour game drive promises exciting sightings and takes you into the early evening with a sundowner break at another glorious vantage point.

The day ends with a delicious dinner; usually at the lodge boma. Boma is the South African word for outside barbeque area. It’s the best way to end the day, sitting under a blanket of stars listening to the sounds of an African bushveld night.

Three nights in the bush is what most safari operators recommend because you do spend most of the first day travelling to your safari destinations, and you need to be out the lodge by 11am on the last day. Three days means you enjoy at least four game drives.

Things to do at Sabi Sand Game Reserve

Guided Safari Tour

Guided Safari Walks

Children’s safari clubs

Safari photography


Community visits



Situated in the northern section of Sabie Sands; closest entrance is Gowrie Gate.

The name ‘Arathusa’ is derived from the North Sotho word ‘reathusa’ which means “we are helping”. The farm was purchased in 1960 and was a family retreat until 1998. The land was leased to Chitwa Chitwa until 2006. When the lease expired, Arathusa Safari Lodge was developed and is now run as a family-owned and operated establishment.

Apart from being located in Big 5 country with an abundance of antelope and other game, Arathusa Safari Lodge is renowned for its leopard sightings. There are approximately 14 leopards living in their territorial areas around the lodge and many have become familiar and easily recognised by the game rangers, trackers and regular guests. There are also a number of territorial lion prides in the area as well as large herds of buffalo and elephants in large numbers.

Arathusa Safari Lodge supports Hananani Primary School in the local community of Dixie. The village has about a thousand households and limited facilities. Previously, school children had to walk kilometres to the nearest primary school and received basic education with scarce teaching resources.

The school was built by a local businessman and named Hananani which means ‘giving’ in the local language. Arathusa proudly supports the cost of 7 teachers and 220 learners; the school caters for learners attending Grade R through to Grade 7 (last year of primary school).

Arathusa Safari Lodge offers luxury accommodation for the discerning traveller in:

  • 9 water-facing luxury suites which overlook a permanent waterhole; each suite has a bathroom ensuite with an inside and outside shower and a private patio
  • 4 bush-facing luxury suites which are positioned away from the lodge in a more remote location; each has its own plunge pool and private patio with stunning views of the surrounding bushveld; the large lounge area leads out onto a shady patio with its own outdoor shower

There are no televisions in the lodge suites. Guests can connect to Wi-Fi in the main lodge.

Arathusa’s Safari Spa offers guests a comprehensive spa and wellness experience with a treatment room overlooking the waterhole and the beautiful African bushveld. There are two fully-qualified therapists on duty so couples can enjoy a pamper session together.

Children 12 years and older are welcome at Arathusa Safari Lodge; charged the full adult rate for accommodation.


Situated in the bottom south-west corner of Sabie Sands; closest entrance is Shaw’s Gate

The gracious and genteel lodge is imbued with the history of Harry Kirkman. Walter Henry (Harry) Kirkman enjoyed a long and successful association with Sabie Sands; firstly as manager of the TCL cattle ranch on the Sabie River and then in the position of ranger in the Sabi section of the Kruger National Park.

Most of Harry’s duties revolved around predator control, fire management and anti-poaching. He worked closely with James Stevenson-Hamilton in building the state-owned enterprise to become one of southern Africa’s most famous wildlife sanctuaries.

Harry Kirkman retired from service with the national parks in 1958 to take up the position of warden of Sabi Sand Game Reserve. At the age of 65 years, Harry famously survived a lion attack who severely mauled his left arm. He retired from service in the Sabie Sands in 1969 and passed away at the age of 90 in 1989.

The original homestead of Harry Kirkman was beautifully restored, offering guests the choice of 18 charming suites which overlook the surrounding bushveld. Walking into Kirkman’s Kamp is like walking back in time. It possesses all the ambiance of a 1920s South African homestead with touches of modern conveniences. Each guest cottage has a large lounge area which leads out onto a private patio.

Kirkman’s Kamp is managed by internationally-renowned operators, &Beyond. It sits high up on a ridge overlooking the Sand River. &Beyond have retained much of its former glory, keeping its traditional green tin roof and keeping the grounds beautifully manicured with a rolling lawn creating a green oasis in the middle of the dry bushveld. Many mementoes that chronicle Harry’s time as a game ranger in Sabi Sands add to the quaint atmosphere as well as a selection of authentic 1920s furniture which transport you back in time.

&Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp offers luxury accommodation for the discerning traveller in 18 luxury suites; sleeping 36 people

Children of all ages welcome at &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp; one child per room, subject to availability

  • Children aged 0 – 5 years free of charge if sharing with 2 full-paying adults
  • Children aged 6 – 16 years will receive a 50% discount if sharing with 2 adults


Situated in the north-east corner of Sabie Sands, closest entrance is Gowrie Gate

Cheetah Plains Safari Lodge is renowned for its striking contemporary architectural design. The interior of the villas blend seamlessly with the natural surroundings. A calm and distilled palette contribute to an air of serenity and the natural materials create a minimalist interior inspired by African elements.

Cheetah Plains Safari Lodge collaborated with South Africa’s leading local and emerging artists and craftsmen to create a completely unique and authentic safari lodge experience, veering away from the traditional safari look for an architectural style described as ‘African minimalism’.

Accommodation at Cheetah Plains Safari Lodge offers guests the choice of 3 exclusive-use contemporary bush homes. Each luxury suite at Cheetah Plains Safari Lodge has two lounges, a dining area, outdoor boma, wine cellar and heated swimming pool. Included is private use of an open safari vehicle and designated professional guide and tracker for the duration of the stay.

Each bush home has 4 spacious private suites boasting King-size beds with luxury linen, dressing room, lounge and an indoor/outdoor shower and bath overlooking the splendid surrounding bushveld. The suites are named after two of Sabie Sand’s legendary leopards and a dominant lion coalition; Mvula, Karula and Mapogo respectively.


Situated in the north-east corner of Sabie Sands; closest entrance is Gowrie Gate

Chitwa Chitwa has been in the Brink family for over 40 years. In 1991, it was transformed into a private safari lodge and is one of the finest establishments in Sabi Sands. The name of the lodge is an affectionate ode to an aging giraffe bull who always came to drink at the waterhole in front of the house. He was nicknamed Chitwa Chitwa for the sound his creaking old joints made when he ambled down to the water.

Facilities at Chitwa Chitwa include a well-stocked library, designer boutique, fully-equipped gym and an  award-winning spa with qualified therapists offering luxurious pamper sessions. The main lodge deck is shaded by old Knobthorn trees and overlooks a rim-flow swimming pool with panoramic views of the surrounding bushveld.

Chitwa Chitwa has received many international accolades over the years including more recently the World Luxury Hotel Award for Best Safari Lodge Winner 2017, and the Haute Grandeur Global Hotel Awards Winner 2017.

Chitwa Chitwa Safari Lodge can be described as an eclectic fusion of African chic and contemporary European design created with unbridled luxury in mind. The lodge is situated next to one of the largest natural lakes in Sabi Sand and a popular watering hole for local wildlife. This means spectacular game-spotting without even leaving your seat; whether you’re on your private deck, in the chic lounge or enjoying an evening cuisine on the lake.

Chitwa Chitwa Safari Lodge offers guests the choice of 6 spacious luxury suites (with extra beds available for children under 12 years).

There are 6 luxury Chitwa Suites; each individually decorated to balance unpretentious style with the natural setting of the bushveld. The suites lead out onto a private deck with a private plunge pool and a spectacular view over the natural lake. The suites are spacious and can accommodate 2 extra beds for children under the age of 12 years staying with their parents.

Charlsy Suites are named in honor of the head of the family. The 2 beautifully-appointed chalets have interleading ensuite rooms and are ideal for families or groups of friends. Each has a spacious lounge area leading out onto an outdoor deck with a private swimming pool

Chitwa House has 2 beautifully-appointed en-suite rooms with a private deck and outdoor shower, a spacious lounge and dining area leading out onto an outdoor deck with a private swimming pool. Guests have the use of a private open safari vehicle and a professional guide and tracker There is a fully-equipped kitchen and guests can make use of the services of a private chef. Chitwa House comes with a fully-stocked mini-bar and coffee/tea-making facilities

Children of all ages are welcome at Chitwa Chitwa:

  • Children who have not yet turned 3 by the date of arrival stay free of charge
  • Children from the age of 3 up to their 6th birthday will be charged 25%
  • Children from the age of 6 up to their 12th birthday will be charged 50%
  • Children 12 years and older sharing with adults will be charged full adult rate

Children under 6 will not be allowed on game drives unless parents have the sole use of the vehicle. Vehicle exclusivity must be pre-booked.


Situated in the top north corner of Sabie Sands; close to Gowrie Gate

Djuma Private Game Reserve has been in the Moolman family for over 20 years. There are two properties on land that spans some 2 000 hectares, with traversing rights over an additional 5 000 hectares. Jurie Moolman inherited the land from his father and, with his wife at his side, set about laying the founding stones for what would become Djuma Private Game Reserve.

Djuma is the Shangaan name for “roar of the lion”, paying homage to one of the Big 5 you’ll find roaming around the reserve.

Guests staying at Djuma Private Game Reserve have the option of two safari lodges:

Vuyatela Lodge

Vuyatela Lodge is an exclusive-use lodge designed with an extraordinary combination of modern luxury and traditional African culture. Contemporary pieces sit comfortably alongside traditional cultural furnishings and beautiful mosaics and wall murals painted by local Shangaan villagers give the safari lodge an authentic African touch.

Vuyatela Lodge has 5 luxury suites, suitable for a group of up to 10 people. The rate is inclusive of the services of an experienced chef who’ll prepare delicious meals with the groceries you bring to the lodge. The main attractions include a spacious lounge and dining area which lows out onto an outdoor deck overlooking a massive natural waterhole; a unique birdwatching tower perched in trees and a traditional-style boma that juts out into the surrounding bushveld, creating a perfect spot to enjoy starlit evening braais (barbeques).

The name Vuyatela means “come and visit again”. If you can drag yourself away from this spectacular safari lodge, you’ll definitely plan to come back again.

Galago Camp

Galago Camp offers family or friend groups of up to 10 people the ultimate private safari experience. The luxury camp has 3 ensuite chalets; 2 units can sleep 4 people and the third sleeps two people. There are two rooms in the main building that can accommodate an extra 4 people.

The main building is reminiscent of a well-loved bush home with a gorgeous garden and pool. Guests bring their own groceries and drinks and the idea is to create a home-away-from-home experience, although guests are welcome to use the services of a private chef. The rate includes the use of an open safari vehicle and the services of a professional game ranger and tracker.


Situated in the north-east of Sabi Sand Game Reserve; closest entrance is Newington Gate

Dulini Game Reserve has the choice of 3 luxury safari lodges which cater for different needs. Each lodge marries the luxury of a colonial-era safari lodge with the modern touches of contemporary style and design.

Dulini Lodge

Dulini Lodge offers guests the choice of 6 luxurious suites. Each airconditioned suite leads out onto a private shaded deck with panoramic views over the seasonal Mabrak River.

Dulini Lodge lies nestled in a grove on ancient ebony and leadwood trees in a tranquil riverine setting. Birdlife is prolific and guests enjoy the background melody of birdsong for the duration of their stay. Dulini Lodge has a stunning viewing deck which is ideal for game viewing; the Big 5 are common visitors to the river as well as an entourage of antelope, predators and river birds.

Dulini Lodge welcomes children 8 years and older. Children younger than 8 years are welcome only if the lodge is booked out for the exclusive use of a family or friend’s group. Children aged 8 to 11 years join the safari tour at the ranger’s discretion.

Guests are encouraged to purchase gifts for home at the Dulini Lodge curio shop. The shop was set up as a key fundraising initiative to raise funds for the reserve’s outreach programme. Fifty percent of takings from the curio shop are given to the EsiDuini Community Trust.

Dulini River Lodge

Dulini River Lodge was formerly known as Exeter River Lodge. It offers guests the choice of 8 exclusive suites with elegant, spacious interiors and a lounge area leading out on a private outdoor deck with a private plunge pool and panoramic view of the Sand River.

Children of all ages are welcome at Dulini River Lodge. Children 5 years and younger are not allowed on game drives; children between 6 and 11 years are allowed to join their parents at the discretion of the game ranger. Dulini River Lodge offers babysitting services and entertainment for children while their parents are on a game drive.

Dulini Leadwood Lodge

Dulini Leadwood Lodge has 3 luxury suites which are positioned a well apart from each other, offering guests exclusivity and privacy. All 3 suites overlook the Sand River and are perfectly positioned for excelling game sightings and birdwatching.


Situated in the north-centre of Sabi Sand Game Reserve; closest entrance is Gowrie Gate

The original Seville property was owned by the Steyn family. It was a farm situated just outside the village of Utah on the way to Orpen Gate. In the early 1960s, the land was reclaimed by the government along with neighbouring properties and was designated trust land for rural settlement. The reclamation ultimately led to the creation of the Manyeleti Game Reserve, situated to the north of Sabi Sands.

Koot Steyn and his son Dries bought Arathusa Farm in 1962 with a third partner, Jannie Wilkens. The only buildings on the property were the old main building and two rondavels (round huts). The infamous Harry Kirkman frequently visited the farm and would always sleep on the porch of the second rondavel even though there was a bed made up indoors.

Koot Steyn passed on; Dries Steyn divided his personal property in two and in 1994 the farm was inherited by the Witpoort Family Trust. Dr Etienne and Margie Swart are the current owners of Elephant Plains Reserve.

The Swart family added 2 rondavels to the original family camp and opened their doors to public in 1998, accommodating up to 10 guests. Today, Elephant Plains Safari Lodge sleeps up to 24 guests in 4 beautifully renovated rondavels, 6 luxury suites and the magnificent Manyeleti honeymoon suite.

Etienne and Margie Swart have tried to keep the lodge unpretentious and warm and welcoming but they haven’t skimped on luxury and facilities. There are two swimming pools, the African Health spa, a fully-equipped gym, conference room and games room as well as small library and curio shop.

Children of all ages are welcome at Elephant Plains Safari Lodge. The lodge runs a children’s programme to keep the little ones entertained which includes mini bushwalks around the camp with a professional guide.


Situated in the west of Sabi Sand Game Reserve; closest entrance is Newington Gate

Idube Private Game Reserve spans some 10 000 hectares and is home to the Big 5, an abundance of game and predators. Birdlife is prolific. A special drawcard to Idube is frequent sightings of leopard, many of which are permanent features in the area.

In 1983, Louis and Marilyn (Mal) Marais sold their property in the Klaserie and bought a piece of land in the Sabi Sand on the farm Wallingford. The Marais family started from scratch developing the land. There was no house and no water on that piece of land; game was also scarce. Eight boreholes drilled produced no underground water and Louis Marais said if the ninth hole did not produce water, he would sell the land. Water was found and Louis and Mal set about developing the reserve.

Louis Marais is renowned as a master builder and accepts nothing short of perfection. Nothing is torn down or removed from the land; Louis builds around existing termite mounds and incorporates rocky outcrops into his designs. A special feature is the swimming pool which is designed that if an animal falls into the pool, it can walk out easily.

Idube Safari Lodge is not a large establishment and caters for a maximum of 24 guests in 3 luxury suites and a selection of safari chalets.

Situated in the west of Sabi Sand Game Reserve; closest entrance is Newington Gate

Idube Private Game Reserve spans some 10 000 hectares and is home to the Big 5, an abundance of game and predators. Birdlife is prolific. A special drawcard to Idube is frequent sightings of leopard, many of which are permanent features in the area.

In 1983, Louis and Marilyn (Mal) Marais sold their property in the Klaserie and bought a piece of land in the Sabi Sand on the farm Wallingford. The Marais family started from scratch developing the land. There was no house and no water on that piece of land; game was also scarce. Eight boreholes drilled produced no underground water and Louis Marais said if the ninth hole did not produce water, he would sell the land. Water was found and Louis and Mal set about developing the reserve.

Louis Marais is renowned as a master builder and accepts nothing short of perfection. Nothing is torn down or removed from the land; Louis builds around existing termite mounds and incorporates rocky outcrops into his designs. A special feature is the swimming pool which is designed that if an animal falls into the pool, it can walk out easily.

Idube Safari Lodge is not a large establishment and caters for a maximum of 24 guests in 3 luxury suites and a selection of safari chalets.


Situated on the western sector of Sabie Sands; closest entrance is Newington Gate

The private game reserve boasts the intimate but luxurious Inyati Game Lodge, offering guests the choice of 11 beautifully decorated suites with a panoramic view of the Sand River. A popular attraction at Inyati Game Lodge is its Treetops conference facility which gets its name because it is set amongst the treetop high up on the bank of the Sand River. It’s also a perfect venue for an intimate wedding.

Children of all ages are welcome at Inyati Game Lodge. They can be booked into the fun and educational Young Rangers Programme which teaches them everything from making tricky bird calls and identifying spoor (animal tracks) to using plants with a horrible smell to ward off predators and plants to brushing teeth, soap, food and toilet paper.


Situated in the western sector of Sabie Sands; closest entrance is Newington Gate

Leopard Hills is jointly owned by Louis Kruger and Jack Brotherton. The farm has been in the Kruger family since 1983.  The lodge is run by Duncan and Louise Rodgers who say that after 32 years in the game lodge industry, Leopard Hills Lodge is by far the best camp they have had the privilege of managing.

As you can tell from its name, leopards are the main attraction at Leopard Hills Lodge. The resident leopards are so used to the safari vehicles, they just ignore them even if they’re stalking through the bush and being followed by a vehicle.

Leopard Hills Safari Lodge opened in 2000 with five luxury suites. Another 3 suites were added as well as a treatment salon, gym and a traditional Shangaan boma to create a five-star luxury establishment. The lodge is positioned on a hill overlooking a natural waterhole and each suite has a panoramic view over the dry Sand River. Guests enjoy excellent game viewing from the  wide outdoor deck, complete with a rock plunge pool.


Situated in the far south sector of Sabie Sands; closest entrance is Shaw’s Gate

Lion Sands was founded in the early 1930s by Guy Aubrey Chalkley More and is now being managed by its fourth-generation offspring. Lion Sands is the only property on Sabie Sands that has access to both the Sabie and Sand rivers. This perennial water source brings in large concentrations of wildlife which is why Lion Sands has earned a reputation for excellent animal sightings and prolific birdlife.

There are four luxury lodges on Lion Sands, each offering guests the ultimate luxurious safari experience.

Ivory Lodge

Ivory Lodge is an architectural masterpiece where natural materials have been used so the lodge blends into the surrounding bushveld. The building incorporates a delightful mix of steel, wood, thatch, glass, water and sand and exudes timeless elegance.

Ivory Lodge offers guests the choice of 8 single villas and 1 double-suite villa more suited to families. Each suite are built on an elevated position to make the most of the stunning view over the perennial Sabie River.

Children 10 years and older are welcome at Ivory Lodge.

Ivory Lodge’s Fish Eagle Villa

Fish Eagle Villa at Ivory Lodge is an exclusive-use villa suitable for families and smaller groups of friends. It can accommodate up to 6 people sharing, including 4 adults and 2 children sleeping on single beds in the parent’s room.

Guests staying at Fish Eagle Villa have access to the service of a private chef as well as a dedicated field guide and a private open safari vehicle.

Tinga Lodge

Tinga Lodge offers the discerning traveller the ultimate safari experience with the choice of 9 luxurious suites positioned apart from each other, with a panoramic view of the river. Each suite leads out onto a shaded outdoor deck with its own plunge pool.

Together with the two-bedroomed Tinga Hi’Nkweni Family Villa, Tinga Lodge has capacity for 22 guests. Children 10 years and older are welcome at both venues.

Tinga Hi’Nkweni Family Villa

Tinga Hi’Nkweni (pronounced Hing Kweni) Family Villa was launched in 2017 and is ideally suited for families travelling with children. It’s an exclusive-use and self-contained villa; guests have access to the services of a dedicated game ranger and an open safari vehicle.

The family villa at Lions Sands accommodates up to 6 people in two bedrooms (4 adults and 2 children). Children 6 years and older are welcome at Tinga Hi’Nkweni Family Villa and 50% of the adult rate (up to 15 years).

Lion Sands River Lodge

Lion Sands River Lodge is the original homestead of Lion Sands Private Reserve. It has been beautifully restored with a sophisticated interpretation of a traditional safari lodge with an emphasis on clean lines, beautiful natural light and contemporary décor.

Guests have the choice of 8 luxury suites, 6 ultra-luxury suites and 4 River Suites; each with shaded outdoor deck and private plunge pool. The main attraction at River Lodge is the traditional boma (outdoor barbeque area) as well as signature dinners in the river bed or on the outdoor deck.

Narina Lodge

Narina Lodge lies nestled under a canopy of 100-year-old trees with a panoramic view of the Sabie River. It is designed to resemble a luxurious treehouse and offers guests the choice of 9 private suites linked by raised wooden walkways. Thick green foliage hanging over the suites is home to an array of bushveld birds.

Children 10 years and older are welcome at Narina Lodge. The lodge is not suitable for disabled travellers as the walkways make it difficult to access the suites from the main lodge.

Lion Sands Luxury Treehouses

The luxury treehouse concept at Lions Sands offers guests the ultimate bush experience. Guests sleep directly under the stars and there is no access to Wi-Fi or televisions, only the sounds of the African bushveld at night to keep one entertained.

Lion Sands Luxury Treehouses are securely constructed above the ground with wild animals roaming freely below the structure and in the surrounding bushveld. A field guide provides a full orientation on safety protocol before leaving guests behind in the luxury treehouse with a radio to use if help is needed.

Chalkley Treehouse

Chalkley Treehouse is Lion Sands signature feature and originally set up by Guy Aubrey Chalkley as the perfect escape into the bushveld. It’s the ultimate bushveld experience with a lavish King-size-bed under the wispy gauze of a splendid mosquito net and the bright stars above.

Chalkley Treehouse sleeps 2 guests and reserved for grownups.

Kingston Treehouse

Guests are taken across rows of majestic white boulders and across a small drawbridge to a treehouse that is surrounded by wild bushveld. It is equipped with a full bathroom and shower facilities.

Kingston Treehouse sleeps 2 adults and 2 children aged between 10-14 years.


Situated in the centre of Sabie Sands, bordering Mala Mala Private Game Reserve; closest entrance is Newington Gate

Londolozi is intimately connected to the Varty and Taylor families who are renowned as the conservation backbone of Sabie Sands. The two families have dedicated their lives to securing the future of Sabie Sands and protecting its magnificent natural resources.

Londolozi was built on the dream of two friends who nine decades before stood on the banks of the Sand River for the first time in 1926. The great-grandfathers of the Varty and Taylor clans established camps on the banks of the Sabie River, tuned into the sounds of lions roaring close by.

The two families hosted presidents, royalty and celebrities for two decades and allowed them to hunt in the pristine African bushveld. John, Dave and Shan put a stop to trophy hunting when they took over stewardship of the private reserve. Instead they created an establishment that would draw hundreds of thousands of discerning travellers to the banks of the river.

The name Londolozi comes from the Zulu term “protector of all living things” and encapsulates the families vision to see sustainable wildlife tourism not only benefit South Africa’s valuable natural resources but communities living adjacent to the reserve.

Guests have the choice of 5 exquisite camps at Londolozi; each offering visitors the ultimate safari experience. Three of the five camps are part of the Relaix & Chateaux group of elite properties.

The Private Granite Suites are the pinnacle of the Londolozi portfolio, followed by Pioneer Camp and Tree Camp. Children under the age of 16 years are not allowed at the premier suites; families with children can opt to stay at Pioneer Camp, Varty Camp and Founders Camp. The latter two camps welcome children six years and older.

Varty Camp and Founders Camp are slightly larger and ideal for families and small groups. Families can request luxury suites that are interlinked by a ‘skywalk’ so parents and children can visit each other without walking out into the bush.

Tree Camp is a flawless masterpiece with stylish features such as the Ralph Lauren wallpaper and plaited leather beds. Tree Camp does not allow children under the age of 16 unless a group takes the whole camp as one booking.


Situated on the eastern border of Sabie Sands; closest entrance is Gowrie Gate

Nkorho Bush Lodge is an intimate camp with 6 stylish thatched cottages and a special honeymoon suite. It can be booked out for guests exclusive use, sleeping a maximum of 12 people.


Situated on the south-east sector of Sabie Sands, bordering Mala Mala Private Game Reserve; closest entrance is Shaw’s Gate

Notten’s Bush Camp is one of the original private game lodges in South Africa and still run as a family-owned establishment. It offers guests an exclusive and private safari experience with personal care and attention from the family and staff.

The Notten family bought the land in 1963 and is now a fourth-generation owned private game reserve. John Notten originally bought the private land as a tranquil retreat for family and friends. In 1986, Bambi and Gilly Notten opened the family home to the public after developing Notten’s Bush Camp.

The land has not only been in the Notten family but also in the Matabula family. The sons and grandchildren of Specter Matabula are still part of Notten’s Bush Camp.

Guests visiting Notten’s Bush Camp have the choice of 9 luxury private suites, each elegantly decorated with a shaded private outdoor deck and panoramic views of the surrounding bushveld. Paraffin lamps and candles replace electric lighting and there is only a landline available in the reception area. Guests are encouraged to detox from technology and embrace the healing properties of the African bushveld.


Situated in the bottom south-west section of Sabie Sand Game Reserve; closest entrance is Shaw’s Gate

Sabi Sabi is an award-winning establishment, boasting a selection of ultra-luxury camps and lodges. The reserve captures the true essence of ‘Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’ with the romantic Selati Camp representing the colonial era of Yesterday; Bush Lodge and Little Bush Camp representing the contemporary period of Today; and Earth Lodge representing the ground-breaking vision of Tomorrow.

Selati Camp

Guests have the choice of 7 luxury suites; each beautifully styled to take visitors back in time to when the early pioneers of conservation strode through the Sabie Reserve and gold diggers converged on the Lowveld to seek their fortune during the iconic gold rush.

Gold was discovered in the 1870s high in the crevices of the Drakensberg escarpment which set off an unprecedented gold rush. The government of the old Transvaal Republic commissioned a railway line which ran from the interior to Delagoa Bay in Mozambique. A branch railway known as the Selati Line crossed the Sabi Reserve.

The disused railway line can still be seen in the north-eastern section of Sabi Sabi, close to Selati Camp. It is fitting that the luxury camp pays homage to the pioneers of yesterday by encapsulating the spirit of those early conservation and gold trading days.

Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge

Bush Lodge at Sabi Sabi is designed to capture the essence of the African wilderness with lashing of contemporary touches. The history of the lodge spans some 35 years and the modern safari style showcases a vibrant and eclectic mix of furnishings and décor that seamlessly integrates generations of style and design.

Guests staying at Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge have the choice of 25 Luxury Suites, including 2 Luxury Villas and the Mandleve Deluxe Suite. A special feature is the ensuite bathroom with an al-fresco glass-fronted shower that offers guests a panoramic view of the bushveld.

Sabi Sabi Little Bush Camp

Little Bush Camp lies nestled in the shade of an indigenous riverine forest, positioned on the banks of the Msuthlu River. It’s the newest addition to the Sabi Sabi collection of 5-star safari lodges.

Guests staying at Little Bush Camp have the choice of 6 Luxury Suites, each with a private outdoor deck complete with a heated spa bath that overlooks the riverbed. The décor is contemporary African design with luxury furnishings.

Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge

Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge transports guests into the future of safari lodge design. The lodge has been sculpted into a slope of earth making it almost invisible if you were passing by in a safari vehicle. The architects have incorporated a fascinating blend of texture, light and space to create a lodge not matched anywhere else in southern Africa.

A hidden corridor leads you down to the main lodge which opens up to a panorama of uninterrupted bushveld. Guests have a choice of 13 Ultra-luxury Suites, including the Amber Presidential Suite. Each suite is individually decorated, complete with a private plunge pool, glass-fronted bathroom and indoor and outdoor shower. Natural wooden sculptures by renowned South African artist Geoffrey Armstrong add to the magnificence of the lodge.


Situated in the bottom western section of Sabie Sands Game Reserve; closest entrance is Newington Gate

Savanna boasts an exclusive 5-star lodge promising guests an unrivalled safari experience with frequent sightings of the Big 5, particularly leopard. Guests have the choice of 9 luxury suites; 7 of them have tented roofs and seamlessly blend the elegance of a by-gone colonial era with lavish touches of contemporary design.

Savana Suite

The Savanna Suite is an opulent home away from home under thatch and ideal for a family or small group of friends. It has 2 spacious and beautifully furnished bedrooms and a spacious living area which leads out onto a shaded outdoor deck with a private plunge pool and outdoor shower. Guests have panoramic views of the surrounding bushveld and an abundance of game visiting the waterhole in front of Savanna Game Lodge.

Executive suites

There are 3 large Executive Suites designed with canvas roofs to create an authentic safari ambiance like the by-gone era of Bedouin-style tents in Out of Africa. Canvas roofs are set above solid walls for comfort, privacy and security. The spacious living area leads out onto a shaded outdoor deck with a private plunge pool, offering guests a spectacular view of the bushveld and waterhole.

Luxury Suites

There are 4 Luxury Suites designed using canvas roofs, nestled under a canopy of indigenous trees which are home to an array of bushveld birds. The bedrooms have draped ceilings which create a beautifully romantic atmosphere. The spacious living area leads out onto a private outdoor deck with a private plunge pool, offering guests sweeping views of the bushveld and waterhole in front of Singita Game Lodge.


Situated in the northern-central section of Sabie Sands; closest entrance is Gowrie Gate.

Simbambili is part of the Thornybush Collection and boasts a magnificent safari lodge situated among dense stands of knobthorn and jackalberry trees along the beautiful Manyeleti River. It’s Moroccan-style suites blend in seamlessly with the surrounding bushveld and lend the lodge an air of romance and mystique.

Each suite at Simbambilli Game Lodge has a private deck and plunge pool which overlooks a large watering hole. The lodge accommodates up to 16 people in 8 luxury suites and can be hired on an exclusive-use basis. Simbambilli Game Lodge is elegant but homely and offers guests an intimate safari experience.


Situated in the west-central section of Sabie Sands Game Reserve; closest entrance is Newington Gate

The story of Singita began in 1925 when James Fawcett Bailes purchased a tract of pristine land in what is today Sabie Sand Game Reserve. James Bailes is the grandfather of the current owner, Luke Bailes. The game farm was originally procured for hunting purposes and was inaccessible by road. Travelling to the old Singita farm would take three days of hard driving from the coast.

Hunting on Singita was replaced with a passion for conservation and the large private reserve is now teeming with game and home to the famous Big 5 (elephant, buffalo, rhino, leopard and lion). The first lodge developed and opened to the public in 1993 was Singita Ebony Lodge. It is set on the banks of the Sand River and offers guests splendid wildlife sightings from their private suite decks.

The Singita brand name is synonymous with ultimate safari experiences for discerning travellers with 12 Singita lodges and camps found in five diverse regions in Africa. James Bailes dream to create a wildlife sanctuary for the protection of Africa’s valuable natural resources has been realised through the generations of family members who followed in his conservation footsteps.

Guests visiting Singita Private Game Reserve have the choice of 3 upmarket lodges: the original Ebony Lodge, Boulders Lodge and Castleton. Children 10 years and older are welcome at Singita lodges.

Singita Ebony Lodge is the original lodge and stands proudly in a cluster of trees on the banks of the Sand River. The lodge has been refurbished using a safari design which is a fresh and contemporary interpretation of the traditional safari lodge in South Africa. At the same time it captures the spirit of an old hunting lodge inspired by the romance and adventure of tented camps in the wild bushveld.

Guests staying at Singita Ebony Lodge have the choice of 12 luxury suites, each with their own private deck and plunge pool. External walls have been almost completely removed and replaced by a unique combination of canvas and class to create a contemporary safari tent-style suite. This design offers guests panoramic views of the river and surrounding bushveld and brings the outdoors into the luxurious tented space.

Eight suites are ideal for single travellers or couples; 2 suites are suited for families with teenage children; 2 suites are suited for families with small children with a main bedroom and an ensuite twin bedroom; and 1 Villa comprises two family suites which is ideal for a larger family or group of friends. It sleeps up to four adults and four children, has its own private entrance and outdoor barbeque area (boma).

Children of all ages are welcome at Singita Ebony Lodge.

Singita Boulders Lodge

Singita Boulders Lodge has 8 River Suites, 2 Bush Suites and 2 Family Suites; each beautifully decorated with spacious rooms leading out onto private decks with panoramic views of either the Sand River or pristine surrounding bushveld.

Children of all ages are welcome at Singita Boulders Lodge.

Singita Castleton Lodge

Singita Castleton is the original family home of James Bailes and is available on an exclusive-use basis. It consists of a main house with a spacious living area and 6 individual cottages nestled under a canopy of trees in the beautiful grounds of Castleton. The lodge exudes the rich history of the homestead and the indominable spirit of James Bailes.

Children of all ages are welcome at Singita Castleton.


Situated on the western boundary of Sabie Sands Game Reserve; closest entrance is Newington Gate

Ulusaba is Sir Richard Branson’s private game reserve and the recipient of many safari lodge awards such as the recent 2017 ‘Top Resorts in Africa, voted by Condé Nast Traveller readers (USA). Other accolades for Ulusaba include being named the Best Luxury Safari Resort in 2017 by Travel+Leisure by India & South Asia readers of Condé Nast.

The striking safari lodge balances on the lip of a tall hill in Sabie Sands with panoramic views over 13 500 hectares of pristine African bushveld. Ulusaba means ‘place of little fear’ in the local language, named because the hill where Rock Lodge sits provided the ancient Shangaan warriors with the perfect vantage point.  It is a family-friendly destination for discerning travellers and possesses much of the warm, open-hearted spirit of Branson himself.

Guests staying at Ulusaba Safari Lodge have the choice of 21 spectacular suites which spread over two lodges: Rock Lodge with the addition of the Rock Cliff Suites, Cliff Lodge and Safari Lodge. Rock Lodge was completed in 1983 and purchased by Sir Richard Branson in 1994. Rock Lodge was rebuilt and transformed into a top-class establishment; Safari Lodge and the Treehouse Suite at Safari Lodge as well as the Cliff Lodge Suites were opened thereafter.

Rock Lodge

You’re literally on top of the world at Rock Lodge and feel  like you could soar with eagles that have made the hilltop their home. Rock Lodge stands some 800 metres above the stunning surrounding bushveld and the views are spectacular.

Rock Lodge has 8 Luxury Suites, including the magnificent Master Suite, Makwela Suites, Rock Cliff rooms and the 2-bedroom Rock Suite.

Cliff Lodge

Cliff Lodge is a short walk from the main reception area at Rock Lodge and features 2 magnificent luxury suites. Both suites can be booked for guests exclusive use and then come with a private chef aswell as the services of a professional guide and a open safari vehicle.

Cliff Lodge accommodates up to five adults and four children if booked for exclusive use. Guests staying at Cliff Lodge make use of the facilities at Rock Lodge such as the private gym and spa treatment room or they can hide away in complete privacy in their luxury suites.

Safari Lodge

Safari Lodge is also a short 500 metre walk away from the main lodge. It offers guests the choice of 11 Luxury Suites including the splendid Safari Rooms, Elephant Rooms, River Rooms and the private Treehouse Suite.

Safari Lodge is perched on the bank of a dry riverbed and guests cross swing bridges to get to the exquisite rooms which are designed to look like elaborate treehouses.


Situated in the upper-south section of Sabie Sands Game Reserve; closest entrance is Shaw’s Gate or Newington Gate

Umkumbe Safari Lodge is an owner managed and run establishment offering guests an authentic African safari experience. Guests have the choice of 10 luxury chalets which overlook the Sand River. Sightings of the Big 5 from the deck at Umkumbe Safari Lodge are common.

Children over 5 years are welcome at Umkumbe Safari Lodge.


Mala Mala Private Game Reserve lies within the boundaries of the Sabi Sands Game Reserve but is not a member of the Sabi Sand Wildtuin Association.

Mala Mala is the largest an oldest private game reserve in South Africa. It covers some 15 000 hectares and is home to the Big 5 and an abundance of valuable fauna and flora. It borders the Kruger National Park and falls within the Greater Kruger National Park. Mala Mala is the Tsonga name for Kudu, a large antelope with majestic curved horns.

The Tsonga people occupied the land before it was established as a private game reserve and were forcibly removed in the creation of the wildlife sanctuary. The Nwandlamhlarhi Community successfully reclaimed Mala Mala game reserve as their own land in 2015. A negotiated settlement saw the community receive a massive payment in lieu of the private game reserve remaining in the hands of the current operators.

Guests staying at Mala Mala have the choice of three safari camps: Mala Mala main camp, Mala Mala Sable Camp and Mala Mala Rattray’s Camp.


Sabi Sand Game Reserve falls within the Greater Kruger National Park which, in turn, falls within the internationally-declared Kruger2Canyons UNESCO Man and Biosphere and within the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation area (GLTP Treaty of 2002).

The Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It is situated across the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces of South Africa, and its borders stretch up to Zimbabwe in the north and Mozambique in the east. It was known in 1898 as the Government Wildlife Park; later became known as Sabi Game Reserve and then the Kruger National Park in 1926.

Kruger National Park is the core of the Kruger 2 Canyons and Vhembe UNESCO Man and Biospheres, and the core of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTP Treaty, 2002).

The Kruger to Canyons (K2C) Biosphere Reserve was registered in September 2001 in Paris by UNESCO. It became the 411th Biosphere Reserve site to be registered in 94 countries worldwide and acknowledged for its global significance. The K2C Biosphere Programme is an extensive community-driven initiative that bridges the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces in South Africa. It is also the interface of the Eastern Transvaal Drakensberg Escarpment and the Central Lowveld.

K2C has 1.4 million hectares dedicated to long-term conservation; 989 000 of formally protected area (state-owned reserves) and 400 000 hectares of private-owned conservation land (privately-owned game farms). The entire registered Biosphere Reserve spans some 2.5 million hectares.

Vhembe Biosphere Reserve is located in the north-east of South Africa near the border with Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The reserve includes the northern part of Kruger National Park, Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage site, several Provincial Nature Reserves, two recognised centres of biodiversity and endemism (Soutpansberg and Blouberg), and the Makgabeng Plateau, which contains more than 1 000 rock art sites.

The area has a relatively large and rapidly growing human population with a high unemployment rate. This has a severe negative impact on natural resources, which are harvested in an unsustainable manner. The role of the conservation programmes is to manage the needs of communities living adjacent to the wildlife sanctuaries and the protection of South Africa’s valuable natural resources.

The luxury safari lodges of Sabi Sands are committed to ‘Responsible Tourism’ which is about ‘making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit’. Responsible Tourism requires Sabi Sands operators to make tourism more sustainable where both people and natural resources in the region benefit.

Sabi Sand Game Reserve is committed to delivering on the following mandate:

  • minimise negative economic, environmental and social impacts
  • generate greater economic benefits for local people and enhance the well-being of host communities, improve working conditions and access to the industry
  • involve local people in decisions that affect their lives and life changes
  • make positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage and the maintenance of the world’s diversity
  • provide more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues
  • provide access for people with disabilities and the disadvantaged
  • adopt a culturally-sensitive approach which engenders respect between tourists and hosts and build local pride and confidence



The weather in the Sabi Sands is opposite to Europe and North America where our winter is your summer, and our summer is your winter. October to April is hot with summer rainfall, mostly in the afternoons. The Lowveld rains come in short and often hectic bursts but they don’t last long. It’s very rare that you’ll get a full day of wet, rainy weather as the sun usually comes out shortly after a cloudburst.

Winters in the Lowveld bushveld is between May and September. They’re mild but can it does get nippy on the early morning and evening game drives. Bring along a warm, preferably windproof jacket as well as warm socks, beanies and closed.

Mosquito season is in summer; bring long pants, socks and long-sleeved shirts to put on before the sun sets. This is the time mozzies come out to bite.

The dry season in the bushveld is between May and September which is winter in the Lowveld. Temperatures rarely drop below 9°C (54°F) on the coldest evenings of winter in the bush.

The wet season in the bushveld is between October and April. Temperatures typically sit at around 12°C (79°F).

December to February is the hottest period in the bush with temperatures averaging about 31°C (88°F) and reaching 40°C (104°F) on the hottest days. These months experience the most precipitation, coupled with intense humidity.

March and April are the two best summer months in the bush. High temperatures have eased off, the rain decreases and the days cool off considerably. There is less humidity and most days are sunny and beautiful. Day temperatures sit at a comfortable 29°C (84°F) and nights rarely drop below 18°C (64°F).


Southern Africa is a year-round destination and although the temperatures soar in summer and drop quite low in winter, the luxury lodges at Sabi Sands are geared to take the edge off all weather conditions in the bushveld. There is air-conditioning throughout the main lodges and private rooms, and cold evenings are spent around roaring fires inside or at the boma.

Guests get blankets to  huddle under on nippy morning and evening game drives and all you really need is a warm beanie, warm bushveld jacket and gloves for these drives. Afternoon or evening thunderstorms in the bushveld are spectacular; particularly if they come with a showcase of lightning strikes and thunder.

October – April

The weather is warm during the day and cooler in the morning and evenings. Pack lightweight summer clothes (shorts and cool shirts) and a warm jersey/sweater for the cooler times of day.

May – September

The Fall months are mild during the day but colder in the mornings and evenings. Pack lightweight casual summer clothing and a very warm parka/jacket for the cold mornings and nights.


The Sabi Sand region is considered a low risk malaria area but it still needs to be taken seriously as malaria can be fatal if not treated immediately. Consult your GP or a travel clinic for advice on taking anti-malaria tablets. Mosquitos are more prevalent in the warm, raining season between October and April.

In addition to taking anti-malaria tablets, precautionary measures include using a good mosquito/insect repellent (spray your room and car), sleeping under mosquito nets, and wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants as well as socks and closed shoes in the evening.


The luxury lodges in Sabi Sands have internet connectivity. Usually it is available in the main lodge and the private rooms. However, check with the lodge you’re staying at if Wi-Fi is available in the room as a few operate on the basis that guests need to put away their mobile devices and completely relax without outside distractions.


Sabi Sands is within an hour’s drive from the nearest medical facility which is a medical clinic in Skukuza in the Kruger National Park. The on-call doctor at Skukuza will treat minor ailments and stabilise more serious conditions. Patients who need emergency medical treatment will be sent through to one of two big private hospitals in Nelspruit.



The most convenient mode of travel to the Sabi Sands from Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport is by making use of a shuttle flight. Federal Air (FedAir) services most individual lodges and airstrips in the reserve from both Johannesburg and Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport.

There are two daily shuttle flights to Sabi Sand Game Reserve from OR Tambo International Airport.

FedAir Johannesburg to Sabi Sands schedule:

  • Depart OR Tambo at 10h30; arrive at Sabi Sands at 12h00
  • Depart OR Tambo at 12h30; arrive Sabi Sands at 14h00

FedAir Sabi Sands to Johannesburg flight schedule

  • Depart Sabi Sands at 11h00; arrive OR Tambo at 12h30
  • Depart Sabi Sands at 12h30; arrive OR Tambo at 12h30

Please note: departure and arrival times by differ by up to one hour to accommodate delayed flights. Please bear this in mind when booking connecting flights home.

If travelling on the morning flight to Johannesburg, no connecting flights should be booked departing before 15h00 (domestic) or 16h30 (international).

If travelling on the afternoon flight to Johannesburg, no connecting flights should be booked departing before 17h00 (domestic) or 18h00 (international).

FedAir operate shuttle flights to Sabi Sand Game Reserve; it is not a scheduled domestic flight. Departure and arrival times are affected by local weather conditions and it is possible there might be multiple stops enroute to your destination (with a maximum of 3 landings. Flights are also subject to change without notice.

Baggage restrictions

There are baggage restrictions for the FedAir shuttle flights between OR Tambo and Sabi Sands. Visitors fly on a small aircraft, either a Cessna Grand Caravan or Beechcraft 1900. Visitors may carry maximum 20 kilograms per person in a soft duffel-type bag. This includes hand luggage and camera equipment.

Your baggage for the rest of your holiday can be kept in safekeeping at the FedAir baggage storage facility at OR Tambo International Airport at no extra cost. Baggage restrictions are strictly adhered to and no exceptions are made for safety reasons.


Visitors to Sabi Sand Game Reserve have the option of renting a hired car on arrival at OR Tambo International and driving to the game reserve via Mpumalanga Province

  • OR Tambo International Airport to Shaw’s Gate:

4 hours 50 minutes(438kms) via N12 and N4 from OR Tambo International Airport

  • OR Tambo International Airport to Gowrie Gate:       

5 hours 40 minutes (470kms) via N4 from OR Tambo International Airport


The Sabi Sands has three access gates:

Shaw’s Gate:                      Open from 05H00 to 22H00

Newington Gate:              Open from 05H00 to 22H00

Gowrie Gate:                     Open from 05H00 to 22H00

Check with the safari lodge you are staying at to find out which access gate you must use.


Visitors staying at a safari lodge in Sabi Sands Game Reserve are required to pay a vehicle entry fee as well as a per person fee. Credit cards are accepted at all Sabi Sand entrance gates. Only South African Rand is accepted if paying in cash.