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Sabi Sand Game Reserve

12 May 2020 | By Author Thornybush | Experiences & Lodges & Wildlife

Just shy of 500km North East of Johannesburg, South Africa in the Lowveld of Mpumalanga lies the world famous and ultimate safari destination, the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. 

Boasting to be the most famous reserve in South Africa, the Sabi Sands lies adjacent to the Kruger National Park, where a 50km unfenced boundary between the two reserves allows the big five to roam freely in an expansive natural environment. 

This makes the Sabi Sands the ultimate safari experience found nowhere else in the world. 

Whether you’re a first-timer to an African safari, or a well-versed “Twitcher” (The ‘official’ name for a bird enthusiast), the Sabi Sands wildlife is something to be experienced. With frequent Leopard sightings, (the most elusive of the ‘Big 5’), over 300 bird species and guaranteed once in a lifetime wildlife sightings, it’s a dream destination for any wildlife enthusiast. 



In 1948 the Sabi Sands was officially proclaimed a national reserve, however the 65,000 hectare reserve’s history dates all the way back to 1898 when the area became part of the Sabi Reserve, the forerunner to the Kruger National Park. 

Much of the Sabi Sands land was used for agricultural purposes, but when cattle farms started to occur, a reliable source of water was needed to sustain the farms. This is what has become the ‘secret’ to the Sabi Sands wildlife abundance. Boreholes were drilled to supply continuous water to the seasonal land, so when the Sabi Sands reserve was established in 1934, all the water sources and dams were kept intact allowing the abundance of wildlife to access water throughout the year, regardless of the seasonal factors. 

In 1926 the National Parks Act was passed, excising the original agricultural landowners from the national land and the Kruger Park was extended. The new landowners formed the private Sabi Reserve in 1934, which became the Sabi Sand Wildtuin in 1948. Of these ‘pioneering’ land owners, six families still own land in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, they are now third and fourth generation owners, their legacy being the successful conservation of the highest density of big game in South Africa. 



One of the many draw cards to the Sabi Reserve is the private access that only guests staying within the reserve can experience. No day visitors are allowed on this private reserve, which allows guests to truly immerse themselves in an exclusive guided safari adventure with some of the most expert guides in the industry. 

Of the 12 Thornybush luxury game lodges, there is only one situated in the heart of the Sabi Sands, Simbambili Game lodge. Situated on the banks of the meandering Manyeleti River it offers world-class game viewing opportunities, hosted by our passionate and knowledgeable guides and trackers it boasts a safari experience like no other. 



Whilst we say there is no ‘perfect’ safari season, as the African bush brings magic moments to every day, we do want you to experience the Sabi Sands in all its glory. May to September promises beautiful skies, chillier mornings but richer views as the autumn to winter and spring months slows down the density of the bush, allowing you to see deeper into the wild. 

Waterholes are also filled with abundant sightings as the seasonal rains come to an end, calling wildlife to the man-made water-points which guarantees some exciting encounters. 

We cannot wait for you to join us, and allow the Sabi Sands to etch its world-renowned safari experience into your soul.  Come experience the birthplace of safari with us.