Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve safari | Travel guide

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Popular with South African residents, Sabi Sabi is a private game reserve, situated in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve which flanks the south western section of the Kruger National Park.

The reserve is known for incredible wildlife sightings including Africa’s “Big Five” – Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino & Cape Buffalo, dating back to 1898 which makes it the oldest private game reserve in South Africa.

The reserve supports over 300 species of birds, 47 large mammal species, 57 species of reptile as well as a myriad of smaller animals such as bats, small rodents, amphibians and invertebrates such as spiders, scorpions and insects.

Why visit Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve?

Sabi Sabi Game Reserve safari

An authentic wildlife experience is assured at Sabi Sabi, one of the private luxury reserves located within the greater Sabi Sand Game Reserve.

Guests will be sure to find all major mammals as well as packs of wild dogs. The safari vehicles are in constant radio contact with one another to ensure visitors do not miss any interesting wildlife movements.

Sabi Sabi was one of the first lodges in Sabi Sands and offers exclusive wildlife viewing while guests enjoy 5-star accommodation as well as excellent food and service.

After a long day’s safari, guests can enjoy any of the four very different lodges to choose from with themes ranging from traditional to colonial and contemporary to avant-garde. Sabi Sabi owns a reasonable chunk of the area and only offers traversing rights to one small property, which makes it less crowded at wildlife sightings.


As South African safaris go, visitors to the park are for a treat as sightings of the Big Five make wildlife viewing superb. While you’ll almost certainly see some lions resting during the day, you might be lucky to find them hunting on a night drive.

Sabi Sand shares fenceless borders with the world-famous Kruger Park thus wildlife viewing tends to be superb, and the main focus is on the Big Five. The big cats are plentiful and even the secretive leopard is easily found.

Giraffes, impala’s, nyalas, leopards and large numbers of birds can be seen in the surrounding bush.

Other nocturnal animals you could encounter are porcupine, civet and maybe even a notoriously fierce honey badger. Burchell’s zebra and blue wildebeest are often seen grazing together while greater kudu tends to stick to thicker vegetation.


Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve is a bird watcher’s paradise with over 350 bird species found on the reserve. Studying the resident birdlife adds a special dimension to any safari and skilled rangers will provide insight into their fascinating world.

White-crested Helmet-shrikes are common residents on the reserve and are often seen moving around and hunting in family groups. Their most common food sources are moths and caterpillars but they will eat other invertebrates given the chance.

Other birds known in the area include the swamp boubou, collared palm thrush, Meves’s starling, southern ground hornbill, barred owlet, Bennett’s woodpecker, wood owl, various warblers and cisticolas.


Sabi Sabi is situated within a recognised ‘hotspot’ of biodiversity in South Africa and has over 90 species of trees and many more shrubs and grass species.

While many visitors from all over the world come to spot the ‘Big 5’ – lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo; just as important are the ‘Small 5’, namely the elephant shrew, ant lion, rhinoceros beetle, buffalo weaver and the leopard tortoise, found in plentiful numbers in Sabi Sabi shrublands.

The landscape is mostly woodland savannah. The foliage can be dense, but this rarely presents a problem when viewing wildlife due to the expert tracking skills of guides and the possibility to drive off-road.

Other activities at Sabi Sabi Game Reserve

Other South African activities that visitors to Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve can look forward to on their trip:

  • Game drive: Explore the incredible Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve wildlife with spectacular views of large concentrations of wildlife and watch out for the Big Five in the open wild.
  • Bush walks: Walk with professional guides at a peaceful, relaxed pace through the extraordinary Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve where you can see birds, wildlife and beautiful tree species.
  • Amani spa: Indulge in a Spa day and be pampered with a comprehensive range of beauty and wellness treatments against the backdrop of the bushveld, including massages, facials and classic or deluxe pedicures and manicures using the Africology range of skin and body products.

How to get to Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve?

By Plane

To get to South Africa and indeed to the park, visitors can fly to one of two airports: Cape Town International (CPT) or O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg.

The fastest and most convenient option to get to the Sabi Sands Game Reserve is by making use of a scheduled charter flight from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. Federal Air serves almost all lodges in the reserve daily.

A South Africa visa will likely also be required per the latest entry requirements.

By Road

Located off the Trans-Caprivi Strip Highway 900 kilometres from Windhoek, Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve isn’t a place you just end up as it’s quite out of the way from most of the other big destinations in South Africa.

From Johannesburg the driving distance is approximately 450 kilometres. Most of the route from Johannesburg takes you along the N4 national road, making it an easy and comfortable drive. Including some stops for refreshments, the total driving time adds up to about 6.5 hours.

Carrying a small amount of South Africa currency, the rand (ZAR) is advised for smaller purchases.

Tariffs & Regulations

Entrance fee

All Sabi Sand Game Reserve fees are payable at the gate at time of entrance. Park fees are valid for 24 hours. Fees include: Entrance fees R340 (USD $20) per vehicle per stay.


If you keep to park rules, you can stay with the animals as long as they are not disturbed by your presence.

Accommodation at Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve

Tourists at Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve can choose from a number of different options when deciding where to sleep with accommodation ranging from luxury safari lodges to lower budget camping.


There are a number of different lodges and camps with various themes to choose from including:

  • Selati camp: Indulgent and romantic, the historically themed Selati Camp is the Sabi Sabi of Yesterday. Conjuring up memories of when time drifted slowly and luxury embraced you in an effortless whisper
  • Bush lodge: Here the tradition of warm African hospitality greets you, endless views of the African bush surround you and every whim is anticipated in the harmonious family of ‘Today’s’ Bush Lodge
  • Little Bush Camp: Pure excellence is at the heart of this intimate hideaway on the banks of the Msuthlu riverbed, surrounded only by the sounds of the wild and the unending view of the unspoilt bushveld
  • Earth Lodge: Celebrating the future of Tomorrow and the mineral wealth of our continent – this is the past, present and future. Allow your senses to drink in the quiet opulence of a world class masterpiece

Each lodge offers an outdoor swimming pool and a spacious deck for sunbathing or relaxing after a long day in the bush. And when you’re ready for dinner, the lodge’s chefs have prepared a delicious meal just for you.

These air-conditioned thatched suites are exquisitely furnished in ethnic decor and offer a  hub of warmth and luxury deep in the heart of Africa. .

In this luxury lodge, a variety of activities will keep you occupied. Exciting tales from the bush told by your local safari guides are shared over a boma dinner under the most incredible African night sky.


Lodges will typically have all meals and drinks included in the lodge package.

Useful information


Sabi Sabi is a private game reserve in South Africa, situated in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve which flanks the south western section of the Kruger National Park. It is a conservation area where the big five game (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, buffalo, elephant) occur naturally.

Safaris here can be combined with trips to Kruger National Park, Shamwari Game Reserve or Phinda Game Reserve.


The Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve has a sub-tropical climate – it is very hot and humid in summer, with heavy rainfall during the wet season (November to March).

The average rainfall is 550 – 600 mm per year, which makes it the wettest region in South Africa. The best time for game viewing is from April to September and it is during this period the weather is at its most pleasant as well.

During these dry winter months you can expect comfortable temperatures between 26 – 28°C (79 – 82°F) during the day.

Best time to go

Understanding the best time to visit South Africa is important as this will impact accommodation, flight prices, availability and the weather that visitors can expect on their safari vacation. A South Africa visa for entry may also be required.

The best time for game viewing is from April to September and it is during this period the weather is at its most pleasant as well. Animals congregate around reliable water sources and foliage shrinks back due to the lack of rain, making it easier to spot wildlife.


Your doctor can also provide you with assistance in preventing malaria, which is a major concern in Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve, especially in the wet months from October to April.

Antimalarials and other vaccines for South Africa are advised, as well as covering up in the evening and using mosquito repellent (those containing DEET are most effective).

It is recommended to visit a travel clinic before coming to South Africa. Several South Africa vaccinations are recommended and usually administered before your departure.


Where is Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve located?

Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve is located some 450km from Johannesburg with a drive time of 6.5 hours. Most visitors take a scheduled charter flight from Johannesburg whilst Federal Air serves almost all lodges in the reserve daily.

What animals will visitors see at Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve?

Visitors to Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve will see the Big Five including lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and African buffaloes as well as giraffes, impalas, nyalas and large numbers of birds.

How much is the Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve entrance fee?

The entrance fee is USD $20 for vehicles to Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve per stay.