Savanna Private Game Reserve Sabi Sands

Sabi Sands Game Reserve A Brief History

The Sabi Sands game reserve consists of a private group of game reserves and lodges (our stop being Savanna Private Game Reserve).

The Sabi Sands runs adjacent to the Kruger National Park. and is its own reserve. Its a 65000 hectare reserve created by local landowners in the 50’s.

There is a 50 kilometer unfenced boundary with the Kruger. Prolific sightings are high in the Sabi Sands with it being a hotspot for the Leopard.

The Sabi differs from the Kruger in that a spotting of a big 5 allows game drivers access to go off road to get up close and personal. Compared to the Kruger, where it is strictly adhered to stick to the roads.

Savanna Private Game Reserve Arrival

We arrived at the private game reserve after a long and bumpy drive from Kruger Mpumalanga airport. Once we arrived the sense of being in the wild is there to be seen. Savanna Private Game Reserve is right in the midst of the Sabi Sands reserve surrounded by dense forestry.

We were greeted at the entrance by the manager and some staff and brought through to the bar / restaurant area for refreshments and a meet and greet. Once paperwork’s were done we were told our first game drive would be that afternoon. All of a sudden a sense of excitement of a safari a dream of mine all my life was about to become true in a short time.

The Rooms @ Savanna Private Game Reserve

We were escorted to our room , much to our surprise we had own private executive suite, complete with our own walkway and plunge pool. And the view straight out onto the game reserve where we could see Warthogs roaming around.

The rooms at Savanna Private Game Reserve
The View from the rooms into the wild

We stepped inside our suite it looked amazing the biggest bed you ever seen, beautiful wooden furniture and then a walkway behind a wall, we wondered round to see a huge double bath, his and her sinks and a indoor and an outdoor rainforest shower. My words couldn’t describe the luxury we were in.

The room was a fully stocked with complementary mini bar, complete with champagne, wines, beers, spirits snacks and the room itself came fully air conditioned, ceiling fans, mosquito nets, safe, coffee station, fresh water machine, telephone and even complimentary Savanna branded water bottles. this place was heaven.

Every evening after we arrived back from our afternoon game drive we would return to an already run bath and alongside that one day there was a bottle of champagne waiting for us and another day a decentered bottle of port. It was just perfect to come back and unwind without having to think.

The Food @ Savanna

Breakfast

Firstly was breakfast was amazing there was a menu and buffet area. The menu itself was beautiful and you could create your own if you fancied something a bit different. The buffet was full of fruits, meats, cheeses, pastries, muesli’s, yoghurts and toppings. Al delicious and perfect after the early morning game drive.

Lunch

Secondly was lunch, so clean and so fresh. There would be a buffet self serve of the freshest salads, cold meats and cheeses. And then to accompany that we had fresh seafood and some perfectly cooked meats.

Dinner

Lastly the dinners, now this really took us by surprise, each night was a different theme. Our first night we had dinner under the stars surrounded in fairly lights in a big clearing out in the wild.

The chef was there cooking like a bbq style of game meats, fresh fish and a great selection of vegetarian options. Plenty of sides were available and some beautiful red wine. The scene was set so perfectly we sat around in a table of 10 chatting and having the best time.

The second night was back at the lodge were we had a beautiful 3 course dinner. This was were I tried Ostrich for the first time which I must say was beautiful and so tender. The one great thing with savanna is the one long table so everyone joined in and mingled which was great to meet other like minded people. .

Our last night was a night I will never forget a traditional BOMA dinner complete with locals performing there local dances which was incredible to see and everyone got up and we all joined in. The dinner was a BBQ style with beautifully cooked game meats and seafood and tempting sides a feast fit for a king.

Traditional local dancers

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Private Game Drives In The Sabi Sands

Now where do I start, a lifetime of waiting to do a real life safari in the wild to see the animals in the own habitat. The time had finally come to get out and see it all containing ourselves was not possible like children on Christmas morning.

Having a coffee before our first game drive, we met our driver and guide Kevin, made us feel very comfortable and really took and interest in getting to know us. We got on board our jeep and we were with one other couple from Alaska. Just before we set off our spotter Lybon arrived and took his place at the front of the car. We were ready to finally set off.

We were told to brace ourselves it would be exciting but we were warned that there could be slow periods when would be looking for sightings.

Straight off and if by magic about 100 meters out of camp we came across a huge Elephant we couldn’t believe it so soon the excitement was unreal. Out came the camera and the snapping began and as you can see below my favourite elephant selfie.

metersElephant selfie

There were two drives each day consisting of about 3 hours each time. a drive just after sunrise and a drive just before sunset. Then there was plenty of downtime to relax and look over our photos.

During the six drives we done we saw so many animals and even luckier to see the BIG 5 Leopards, Lions, Buffalo, Elephant and Rhino. And on top of that we saw Crocodiles, Hippos, Hyenas, Wild Dogs, Wilderbeast, Impalas, Giraffes, Warthogs and Zebres. the gallery below shows a few of these.

Our Driver and Spotter at Savanna

These two were amazing I don’t think you could find two more passionate people, who absolutely love there job. And also very friendly and tool time to get to know us personally. Which made the whole experience that much better.

To be honest it made the drives so much better to have there knowledge firstly from kevin the Driver / Guide. He was so passionate about all the animals and gave great insight to there behavior and how they survive and behave in the area.

Lybon who was the spotter who I believe was local to the area knew the land like the back of his hand, It was fascinating to see him picking out tracks and spotting everything in sight.

Ourselves with our Guide Kevin and Spotter Lybon
Drinks break in the wild

Community Projects In The Area

The Savanna is very passionate about giving back to the locals and the community projects they have in place are amazing.

If I’m honest would not do them justice to explain them so check out Savanna community projects and take a look for yourselves they are a credit to this community.

Summary Of The Savanna Private Game Reserve

So to conclude our trip to Savanna Private Game Reserve this was truly an experience of a lifetime, we will never forget it and one memories we will never forget.

We would highly recommend to anyone, if you are planning a safari in South Africa please look these guys up you would not regret it.

SAVANNA

Check out a few more of our Africa posts in our Africa sections

CAPE TOWN

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Thnaks for stopping by hope you enjoyed the post

Safari Sabi Sands South Africa

Safari Sabi Sands Introduction

Years of watching The Lion King and dreaming about a safari trip, could not have prepared me for the experience we were about to encounter on the safari Sabi Sands. This part of our trip was beyond our expectations and I just hope I can do it justice in this post. I feel the experiences we had during our three days on safari, are beyond description but I will do my best to share with you our amazing memories as well as any tips we think may help you when planning or taking such a trip to the Sabi Sands and at our chosen stay at Savanna Lodge.

About The Sabi Sands

The Sabi Sands region borders the Kruger Natural Park (one of Africa’s largest game reserves) with the advantage of fewer restrictions in comparison to a national park.

Being a private game reserve, Sabi Sand was such an incredible place to really feel immersed in the wild and get up close to the animals in their natural habitat. I feel this is something well worth considering if going on safari as it is often a ‘once in a lifetime’ trip and you want to do it the best way you can.

The difference between a private game reserve and a National Park, is that the rangers can go ‘off-road’ in a private reserve when tracking one of the ‘Big Five’ while they must stick to the roads at all times in a National Park.

The rangers were very morally conscious when they took us off-road and only did so if it was in pursuit of one of the rarer animals and non-invasive for the vegetation.

The Big 5

If you haven’t heard of the ‘Big Five’ (we hadn’t until we started planning our trip), you will hear LOTS about it once you get the ball rolling.

The term was used in the past by African hunters to describe the five most difficult and dangerous animals to hunt on foot. Obviously, these beautiful animals aren’t hunted anymore but the term is still used and acts as a check list for people on safari. The list includes the lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros. We were lucky enough to see all five on our trip…but more about that later!

Accommodation At The Savanna Lodge

Although we had stayed in some amazing places throughout our trip, our stay on Sabi sands at the Savanna Lodge was out of this world. We felt the exclusive vibe of this 5-star destination, the moment we arrived.

The Savanna Lodge comprises of 9 magnificent suites making our time spent there feel like we were with family.

The rangers all made a huge effort to get to know everyone in the lodge and even ate with the residents for each meal. There was one long table in the dining area where we all ate together, making the whole experience so personal and different to anywhere else we have stayed in the past.

The Rooms At Savanna Lodge

The suites were outstanding and like nothing else we had experienced before (apart from ogling over Instagram images!).

We had our own private pool at the front of our suits with sun loungers and towels prepared for us daily.

The minibar was generously stocked with spirits, local wines, beer all of which was complimentary…I seriously feel this should be a feature in every hotel!! There was also a complimentary selection of tasty snacks and treats that were replenished throughout the day (we definitely didn’t take full advantage of this as they fed us too well at our meals!)

The bathroom in the suites was one of dreams; with a free-standing bath, a wet-room type shower AND an outdoor shower.

Nightly Treats

Each night on our return from the evening game drive, we were welcomed with a pre-dinner drink of port or bottle of chilled champagne, and a bath run in a candle-lit room.

Knowing there was an army of chefs preparing our dinner as we soaked in the bath and sipped on our drinks was a feeling of pure bliss.

Savanna Lodge accommodation

The Food At Savanna Lodge

It was probably a good thing that we only had a few days in this amazing destination as there was an abundance of delicious food every time we sat down to eat.

The on-site chefs cooked hot breakfasts and lunches every day as well as having buffet options to compliment these meals too. The staff were so conscientious and attentive and were always watching for people with dietary requirements or individual requests.

Speciality Dinners

Dinner each night was always a great treat too. Each night there was a different theme or surprise to look forward to.

On our first night at the lodge, we experienced a traditional African ‘boma’, where we were taken to an open-air clearing in the bush to enjoy drinks under the stars and dine around an open fire. The next night, we had dinner on the deck of the main lodge where we all sat around the long dining table and shared stories of what we had seen on our evening game drive. Comparing animal sightings with the other residents and listening to stories the rangers happily shared, is one of my fondest memories from our stay. It was truly the perfect way to finish each spectacular day. The warmth and happiness we felt at the lodge is something the staff certainly should be commended on.

Our final night at Savanna had another surprise in store for us. While we sipped drinks, and nibbled on entrees around an open fire at the lodge, we were serenaded by an amazing local choir. The vibe they created was incredible with authentic costumes and sincere delivery of their songs. The staff added something extra special to the performance by getting involved in the action and had us all up dancing, ensuring we were fully immersed in this iconic African experience.

Local Choir

Extra Services

Tip: There is a full, complimentary laundry service in Savanna lodge. If you pop your clothes in the laundry basket (there is also a bag for hand-wash items!), they will be returned washed, ironed and parcelled in a beautiful wrap material. No need to dread mountains of laundry on your return home after this trip!

Arrival

The main reason for visiting this incredible destination was to participate in daily safaris and we certainly capitalised on this intention at Savanna lodge. On our arrival, we were introduced to our personal ranger (Kevin) and also met the other couple that would be sharing the jeep with us. It was just the four of us in the jeep with our ranger and tracker (Lybon), so we had plenty of opportunity to ask questions and indeed, tailor the drives to our personal interests.

Us with our driver and spotter

The Safari

Each day we were taken out on two long game drives:

-the morning drive went from about 6am to 10am, and

– the afternoon drive ran approximately 3pm to 7pm.

Our Guides

The rangers and trackers were outstanding at their jobs and knew the region inside out. The also kept in regular contact with other rangers and shared sightings to ensure everyone experienced the best of each drive. Even when we had periods of not seeing many animals, our ranger engaged us in such interesting conversations about the area and its inhabitants that we hardly even realised.

The Drives

The game drives were totally out of this world. Seeing such extraordinary animals up close in their natural habitat was such a grounding experience for me.

We had strict instructions to stay sitting and keep our arms inside the vehicle at all times. Sudden movements and loud noises were a complete no-no.

It seems such an unrealistic thing to be able get so close to these animals without something disastrous happening but as these particular animals have been exposed since birth to the jeeps, there is a mutual respect between them and the rangers.

The rangers and trackers are also extremely experienced in reading the body language of the animals and knowing when to stay away. They have such an admirable understanding and respect for these beautiful creatures that we felt completely safe throughout each of our game drives.

Leopard and his catch

Our Spottings

Over the three days, we encountered each of the ‘Big Five’ as well as MANY other animals too. On our first evening out, we came across a scene in which a leopard had previously killed an impala and had dragged it up a tree for safe keeping. Watching this (real life!!) leopard cleaning herself after her incredible kill was something I could never have imagined seeing up close and personal.

On another occasion, we found ourselves in the middle of a parade of elephants on their way to a local watering hole. We watched the dynamics of the pod as the dominant male exercised his position over the other males and shunned them from the prime eating areas.

We also saw the baby elephants meandering through the line, slipping and sliding in the puddles as they kept their watchful mothers busy. Images of lions and rhinos basking in the sun unfazed by our presence, is something that will always fascinate me.

Elephant

Safari Treats

As each morning drive was coming to an end, our ranger would seek out a safe clearing and we would all share in some morning tea. Freshly made biscuits and a hot drink served in the African savannas is the thing of dreams for me now. On colder mornings, a shot of Amarula in your hot chocolate would warm you from the inside out – the ‘bushman’s hot chocolate’ we were told! On the evening game drives, just before sunset, we were treated to the perfect ‘sundowners’. Once a safe space was located, the jeep would stop and our picnic table set. We had our choice of drinks and entrees to nibble on as we watched the sunset over the African plains (even writing this is making me want to go straight back!)

The Local Community

Tiyimiseleni – home-based care centre

Something I like to find when I visit a new destination, is an orphanage or local school. On enquiring at Savanna, I was delighted to learn that the lodge had set up and is committed to some amazing initiatives in support of local communities. The one that captured my interest was the home-based care centre where daily care and support is provided for over 300 local orphans and venerable children. Kristen, Savanna’s Community Project Manager, was delighted to chat to me about the project and even took me out one afternoon to visit the centre. She introduced me to the incredible volunteers that run the centre and I had the opportunity to interact with the children when they arrived for lunch.

Another project supported by Savanna is that of a local nursing home. If you have the time during your stay to visit these initiatives, it is an incredibly worthy cause and such a genuine and grounding experience. Being lucky enough to participate in this trip of a life-time, I feel that a reminder of the less fortunate in our world is always so vital.

Our wheels on safari

Lastly

And so, it is with a heavy heart I finish this post and return to the land of reality for another week. I hope this information can be of help to anyone considering a trip to this luxurious African destination or that perhaps we have persuaded you to consider treating yourself to an upgrade.

We have a lot more of South Africa travelled and this was part of a 12 Day Tour and this beautiful country which finished here in the Sabi Sands and what a finish it was.

Our Africa Adventure (Off We Go)

Africa Introduction Our Plan

When we started planning this trip, I wasn’t 100% sold on the destination. It was Richard’s suggestion but as always, I was keen to try somewhere new and different. And am I glad I did!! Africa it was

If you ask any group of people, there is a good chance you will get a VERY mixed vibe about Africa. Let me give you a tip…if they haven’t been there, their opinion doesn’t count!

Our Destinations


As first time visitors to Africa, we wanted to experience different parts of what this amazing country has to offer. We were on a time frame of 2 weeks, so that was another factor in our planning. Once we started looking at the options, we quickly picked out several places we wanted to visit…the difficult part was narrowing it down to what we could fit into 2 weeks!

Where we went:

Zimbabwe – Victoria Falls
South Africa – Johannesburg
Cape Town
Franschhoek
Sabi Sands

We Hope You Enjoy The Series

See the history of Johannesburg as we visit places like Soweto and Constitutional Hill.

We visit the wonder of the world that is Victoria Falls and stay in the impressive Illala Lodge.

Moving on to Cape Town and seeing Table Mountain, Cape Point and a stay in the V & A hotel.

Enjoy as we unwind inbghe wine district of Franschhoek, catching wine trams, enjoying our stay at the Franschhoek Country House and dining at the Monneaux restaurants.

Then leave the best until last a safari in the Sabi Sands and stay at the luxurious Savanna Lodge.

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