David and Ben at Sabi Sabi.
The rhino in action.
The magnificent zebra.
Immerse yourself in this potentially deadly environment. This is a heart-pounding, blood pumping, up-close-and-personal experience.
Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve is in the Sabi Sands Reserve, which was set up in 1965. Sabi Sabi takes up 8000 hectares of the 60,000 hectares bordering Kruger, but as there are no fences it all seems to be one.
Kruger is South Africa's largest park, covering two million hectares you could fit England into it and because of its size, there is a great diversity between its north and south.
There is basic accommodation in Kruger, but the 16 private game reserves in Sabi Sands offer everything from basic to ultra deluxe. At Sabi Sabi, the lodges are built to accommodate small numbers of people and you will see as many, if not more, animals at closer range.
Sabi Sabi's open vehicles take 10 people a ranger/driver, tracker and eight guests. There are some rules that must be adhered to: you are not to stand in the vehicle and smoking, eating and drinking are not permitted.
After a cup of tea and nibbles at 5.30am, you are off along the sand roads, returning about three hours later. Evening safaris start at 4pm and end at 7pm.
The trackers are invaluable. They perch perilously near the vehicle's headlights, warning the driver of potholes or rocks. They can also look at a paw print and know the breed and sex of the animal and how long ago it left it.
Only four vehicles are allowed to stop near animals at any one time, and drivers are in radio contact with each other so they stick to the rules. The open-top vehicles get very close to the animals maybe 3m from a lion but as they know the vehicle and its contents are not in their food chain, you are pretty much ignored by them. No-one has ever been attacked.
Chances to see the big five lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo are excellent. Sabi Sabi is also home to zebra, antelope, giraffe, monkey, cheetah, baboon, hyena, wildebeest, warthog and 360 species of bird! You will also see diverse and unique flora.
On evening safaris of course, you see night-hunting animals such as porcupines, nightjars, civets, genets and other predators and scavengers of the night. Vehicles are equipped with spotlights that are not shone in the animals' eyes, but allow you to spot them without interfering with them. Being there at night is quite surreal it is completely dark and you are surrounded by the noises of nocturnal birds and animals.
Sabi Sabi has two lodges, totally different from each other, but with one similarity. Guests must be escorted to their rooms at night. Accommodation is at a distance from the dining areas, and on occasion, animals stray into the grounds.
Sabi Sabi Selati Lodge is colonial in style, inspired by the now defunct Selati railway line, which was used to carry the gold that was found in the crevices of the Drakensberg escarpment. It is intimate and romantic, and its antiques give a historic feel. Ceiling fans and air-conditioning are operated by electricity, but all lighting is by oil lamps, and their warm glow adds to the ambience. Sitting on the Sabi River, it has possibly the best viewing deck of all the lodges. The eight thatched suites have en-suite facilities and a private alfresco shower, which blend perfectly into the surrounding bushveld. Home-cooked meals are served on decks built over the riverbed, or in the farmhouse kitchen.
Earth Lodge is a new eco-lodge and competes with the most luxurious private reserves in Sabi Sands. It was architecturally sculpted into the earth, giving the impression that it is underground, and all rooms overlook open bushveld. Its sand and grass plastered walls hold works of art, and its furniture has been created from trees levelled by elephants. Meals can be taken in your suite or under the stars.
Each suite has a plunge pool, there is a holistic health and wellness centre to take care of mind, body and spirit, an 8000-bottle underground wine cellar, a gallery of South Africa's foremost paintings and sculptures and a conference centre.
The Amber Presidential Suite has full bar facilities, kitchenette, king-sized bed, your own attendant and private Landrover for game drives.
The south-west corner of Kruger National Park in South Africa.
Scatterlings of Africa has a safari package including return economy airfares from Johannesburg, three nights at Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge or Selati Lodge, all meals, morning and evening safaris starting at around $2950 per person twin share. They operate year round. They also offer safaris to other lodges in South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
Qantas flies five times a week to Johannesburg. Return economy airfares start at $2325 from the east coast and Adelaide and $2054 from Perth. Prices are per person.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.
Scatterlings of Africa
Ph: (02) 9371 0232 Fax: (02) 9371 3231
South Africa Office Ph: (0011) 27 82 893 2334
Fax: 0011 27 11 804 6057
Qantas: Ph: 13 13 13
For a safe and healthy journey, talk to the travel doctor
: 1300 658 844 or visit traveldoctor.com.au
Vaccinations: Tetanus/Diphtheria, Measles if under 30 years and Hepatitis A. Long stay: Hepatitis B. Take plenty of sunscreen and an insect repellent containing DEET.