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Game Experience in Sabi Sand Reserve Worth It?

posts: 2
Game Experience in Sabi Sand Reserve Worth It?

My wife and I will be visiting family near Phalaborwa for a short stay later this month. We would really like to have the best big game viewing experience possible at a safari lodge/camp in a private reserve, but can only get away for one night. I hear incredible things about the Sabi Sands Reserve, and in particular Londolozi Reserve and CC's outfit among others, but am wondering if it's worth the trouble of getting there and back from Phalaborwa (or direct there and then drive or fly up to Phalaborwa) over staying a night at a lodge in the Thornybush Reserve, which is much closer to Phalaborwa.

Is the game viewing experience (keeping in mind it's the wet season) that much better to try to make the logisitics work? If so, is it safe to drive from Sabi Sands to Phalaborwa, or would you recommend just paying the money to fly up from Nespruit and hire a car there? Also, any lodge recommendations in Thornybush if the game experience is most important to us?

Thanks in advance for any wisdom shared!

Port Elizabeth
Destination Expert
for South Africa
posts: 5,538
1. Re: Game Experience in Sabi Sand Reserve Worth It?

A cheap option is to spend one night at Letaba or Olifants.


Another option is to stay a night in the Balule Conservancy.

Timbavati area isn't far either.




posts: 2,358
2. Re: Game Experience in Sabi Sand Reserve Worth It?

Hi there! If you are looking for the best game viewing experience possible, then I would strongly recommend one of the lodges in the Sabi Sands. It is perfectly safe to drive from Phalaborwa to the Sands, and believe me - it will most definately be worth the drive! If at all possible, try to allocate at least 2 nights to a stay at a lodge in the Sands, which would ofcourse make driving there even more worth your while! You could also consider a lodge in the Timbavati, which is closer to Hoedspruit/Phalaborwa. The Timbavati is also open to Kruger (as is Sabi Sands) and also offers prime big 5 game viewing. Of the lodges you could consider in the Timbavati, are: (placed in order of pricing, from affordable to more expensive)

Gomo Gomo, Ngala Main, Tanda Tula, Kings Camp, Ngala Tented Camp (don't allow young children at Ngala Tented). Thornybush also offers good game viewing, though in my opinion the whole safari experience isn't on par with the lodges from the reserves that form part of the Greater Kruger National Park. Of the recommended lodges that you could consider in Thornybush, are: Chapungu, Shumbalala, Thornybush Main

Hope this helps - please feel free to ask more questions!

posts: 3,924
reviews: 9
3. Re: Game Experience in Sabi Sand Reserve Worth It?

Sabi Sands was the best experience of my life...literally.

posts: 2
4. Re: Game Experience in Sabi Sand Reserve Worth It?

Thanks to both of you. I may regret it, but I've decided to save my family from needless worry and book a few nights at Ngala in the Timbavati Reserve as a compromise. I intend to get back to SA though to visit Sabi Sands!

Stavanger, Norway
posts: 4,140
reviews: 128
5. Re: Game Experience in Sabi Sand Reserve Worth It?


My wife and I went to a place called Djuma Vuyatela and it was amazing to get up close to wild animals. You can check out some pictures in this trip report gardkarlsen.com/djuma_vuyatela_safari.htm . It did cost a bit but we figured that this would be a once in a lifetime experience :-)



Marlow, United...
posts: 1
reviews: 8
6. Re: Game Experience in Sabi Sand Reserve Worth It?

You will not regret your stay at Ngala at all. It is a lovely lodge and although game viewing in the Timbavati tends to be more difficult than in the Sabi Sands due to the density of the bush, the game viewing there is still good. The guides know the area well and where to find the game. We saw lion and buffalo & Elephant up close and personal and when my husband flippantly declared that he wanted to see hyaena; low and behold we were taken to a hyaena den where we saw the most precious little hyaena babies sitting outside, taking in the evening sun! (Mamma was nowhere to be seen though)

Ngala may not be the most luxurious of the lodges but it is very pleasant, the food is good and the staff are friendly and helpful. I think you will definitely enjoy your stay there!

7. Re: Game Experience in Sabi Sand Reserve Worth It?

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