The Sabi Sands
Roughly 65,000 hectares in size, and sharing a fenceless border with the Kruger National Park, the privately owned properties within the The Sabi Sands Game Reserve is home to some of the best game viewing this planet has to offer.
The Sabi Sands was originally excluded from the Kruger National Park around 1964 by a fence that was erected between all the private reserves and the Kruger Park. The reasoning behind this? To stop the spread of foot and mouth disease among both wild and domestic animals.
This had a massive impact on the area, mainly for animals such as the wildebeest, who used to migrate from the northeastern sections of the Kruger - the Lebombo mountain range, southward through the the park and then west into the lowveld and highveld regions. It was estimated that some 18,000 wildebeest died in the first year this fence was erected.
The vegetation took a knock too, without the large herds of animals moving through the area, which allowed for overgrowth and the encroachment of undesired plant species.
This fence was taken down at around 1993, but by this time the damage had already been done.
There was a plan put into place in the central parts of the Sabi Sands by a man named Ken Tinley, who studied aerial photographs dating back to the 1940's, establishing key points that needed to be worked on and restored to its original state. Ken achieved this by patch mowing and clearing out the encroaching species, shifting road systems off of seep lines - (areas where the water table runs very close to the earths surface), and blocked up eroded dongas. This land management plan still continues to this day in a continual effort to limit the effect that human presence may have on these natural areas.
Because of these practices, the Sabi Sands is an incredibly well run and carefully maintained reserve which boasts some of the best big 5 game viewing in the world.
The Sabi Sands is known for its predator activity, but there is a lot more to see and take in, from the incredible views, sunsets and sunrises, plains game and roughly 360 different bird species it really is a destination which suits everyone.
The Sabi Sands itself boasts massive diversity, with the northern sections typically consisting of more open plains and grassland, the west blessed with beautiful rocky outcrops and the southern sections characterized by densely vegetated drainage lines. Not to mention the two major rivers which run through the reserve, the Sabi River and the Sand River, hence the reserve's name.
There are also a variety of different lodges within the Sabi Sands all of which designed and marketed slightly differently to appeal to the type of safari experience you are after, whether it be a bit more authentic, or perhaps high end luxury - the Sabi Sands has it all.
I was fortunate enough to work in the Sabi Sands for over 4 years and loved every minute of it. Whether you have been on safari or not, I have no doubt you will love the experience the reserve has to offer.
Until next time,