The Sabi Sand Game Reserve
The Sabi Sands is a genuine contender for leopard capital of Africa and home to the area’s most famous properties. The lifeblood of the park is the rivers, with the Sand River cutting through the heart of the Sands and the Sabi River running along its southern border. Inside the Sabi Sands are a number of individual private reserves.
The best reserves are obviously the largest reserves, but good river access is incredibly important. Close proximity to the border with the Kruger is also key, so that you can witness the crossover of game from the Kruger National Park, as I’ve already mentioned. Both the closer you get to the fences and the less river frontage there is, result in a noticeable lack in the quality of game viewing, especially for the bigger migratory animals.
The first property to mention is Nottens Bush Camp. This charming little camp, with rooms lit only by candles, has a great game-viewing area and the most economical price-tag of all accommodations within the good-quality private Sabi Sand Reserves. For value alone, you cannot go wrong with this place. It is a rarity in an expensive region! Step up a level, however, and you hit the first of the Sabi Sands’ luxury lodges. Kirkman's Camp is a beautiful camp that boasts a superb river location bordering the Kruger. This is a lovely property at a great price, considering Kirkman's is run by &Beyond, one of Africa's most luxurious safari brands!
Lion Sands may well be a small reserve, but the game-viewing area here gives you access to the Kruger itself! The accommodation is of a very high standard, whilst service and guiding are also top notch. River Lodge is where we send most clients, whilst Ivory Lodge is truly fantastic, but also one of the most expensive properties on the planet!
The problem with Lion Sands, however, is the final place I'm going to recommend – the Londolozi Reserve! This outstanding reserve is to the north-west of Kirkman’s and Lion Sands, with probably the most stunning section of river and some truly excellent game viewing on offer. Here there are five camps, with the cheaper Londolozi lodges often being the best places to stay – they share exactly the same locations as the other substantially more expensive Londolozi lodges! I've always thought Founders was a great camp with Varty being the other well-priced camp. Pioneer, Tree and Granite are Londolozi's flagship camps - but these properties are just about as expensive as anywhere in the country!
The final places to mention are those operated by Singita, Africa's most luxurious safari brand. Boulders and Ebony are simply outstanding properties, where the sheer level of hospitality is the focus. Budget goes out of the window when staying here – but the reserve itself and the comfort level compete with any hotel on the continent!
I’d summarise all of this by saying that, unfortunately, budget is the major factor in deciding where to stay. Personally I've always thought it is a good idea to splash out on a little more than Notten’s, so I rarely sell this camp. Kirkman’s is superb and a great option for our entrance-level safaris. Lion Sands is also well worth a look, but pay this much money and I suggest you might as well push the boat out again and pay for one of the Londolozi camps (Londolozi, Founders, Tree and Granite have always been favourites of mine) – or even Singita!