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Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa
Fast Facts
Kid-Friendly Hotels

Leopard, Sabi Sand Game Reserve

Photo by andBeyond

Sabi Sand is South Africa's oldest and most exclusive private game reserve. It spans 65,000 hectares and shares a 50 km unfenced border with Kruger National Park. It's the birthplace of sustainable wildlife tourism in South Africa and has only ever been a wilderness area. It's part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park, the largest conservation area in Southern Africa. Sabi Sand Game Reserve is renowned for its exceptional leopard sightings and up-close wildlife encounters. The reserve's wildlife checklist counts more than 500 bird species and over 140 kinds of animals. It's home to all of the African big five - lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo, rhinoceros - and several endangered species - wild dog, honey badgers, oxpeckers, ground hornbill, and several species of bats. Sabi Sand's varied landscape includes riverine forest, acacia groves, grasslands, and, of course, bush savanna. Termite mounds are one of its most distinctive features. The Sabie and Sand rivers provide it with a source of water. What's more, the accommodation at Sabi Sand ranges from affordable to luxury and many of the reserve's safari lodges and camps welcome children.
Getting There
Sabi Sand Game Reserve is located in the South African province of Mpumalanga and is situated south of Kruger National Park. The game reserve is accessible through three gates, Gowrie, Newington and Shaws. Newington and Shaws gates are a 5.5 hour drive from Johannesburg; Gowrie Gate is a 7 hour trek. Federal Air and Bateleur Air Charter operate charter shuttles from Johannesburg to various lodges within the reserve. SA Airlink and SA Express operate daily flights from Johannesburg to towns adjacent the reserve, including Nelspruit and Manzini. Road transfers and flights can be booked through reserve lodges.
When to Travel
Sabi Sand is characterized by two well-defined seasons; cool, sunny winters and hot, wet summers. Game viewing is best in winter (July to September) when vegetation is sparse and animals congregate at the few remaining water holes. Birding and newborn animals are highlights in summer (November to March). Temperatures exceed 30°C (86°F) from November to March and afternoon thunderstorms are a common occurrence. The coldest months are July and August but the daily high usually reaches 24°C (75°F). Winter nights are significantly cooler than winter days. The rainy season is from November to March. Pack hats, sunglasses, and sun block. Wear neutral colored clothing that will blend into your environment. Plan to dress in layers; early mornings can be quite chilly especially in winter.
Health & Safety
The game reserve lies in a malaria risk area. Additional health risks include animal hazards and exposure to the sun. Not only are the animals wild, all wildlife is potentially dangerous. - Listen to your guide. Follow the safety guidelines put together by your safari lodge. Don't taunt or tease wildlife. Use common sense and closely supervise your children. - Protect your skin from the sun's damaging UV rays. - Wear a hat and sunglasses. Apply sunscreen. - While prophylactic treatment is recommended no drug is 100% effective in preventing malaria thus it's important to avoid mosquito bites. Here are some helpful tips: Use insect repellent with DEET. Wear trousers and long-sleeved shirts after dark. Sleep under a treated mosquito net or in a screened or air conditioned room.
Things to Keep in Mind
Driving to the park? Get gate opening and closing times from your safari lodge. There are no service stations in the reserve. An entrance fee is charged to all vehicles accessing the park, the rate is per person and per vehicle.
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Travel Trivia
Cinque Terre is Italian for: