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An Africa Safari in Sabi Sands Game Reserve - Lion Sands Game Lodges  
Undoubtedly the most exclusive private game reserve in South Africa, the Sabi Sands Game Reserve offers a game experience that is difficult to beat. Two perennial rivers, the Sabi and the Sands, flow through this park sustaining the diverse fauna and flora of the area, which enjoys one of the highest and most bio-diverse wildlife populations in Africa.



I was lucky to be invited by Lions Sands Private Game Reserve to stay with them for a weekend. Having flown into Johannesburg from Cape Town I then caught the once daily South African Airlink flight to the Mala Mala airstrip in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve departing at 11h10 and arriving at 12h10. The last minutes of the flight before landing provided awesome views over the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. A few 4x4 safari vehicles from various different lodges in the area accompanied the lonely airstrip, which was surrounded by thick African bushveld. The lodges’ representatives patiently waited for their guests’ arrival. After being welcomed and offered a refreshing cool drink by the Lion Sands Game Lodge representative, I then enjoyed a 40 min game drive through the reserve en route to the lodge.

The Lion Sands Private Game Reserve offers two exclusive lodges, River Lodge (4 star) and Ivory Lodge (5 star) and both are situated right on the banks of the Sabi River, providing a opportunity to watch game come to drink throughout the day.


Lion Sands River Lodge Island Deck

After checking into my beautiful room at River Lodge, lunch was served on the raised wooden deck overlooking the river. The large selection of fresh tasty dishes had me eating much more than my fair share. There is a saying in Afrikaans that goes “maagie vol, oogies toe” meaning tummy full, eyes closed. It was time to wander off to my room for an afternoon nap.


Lion Sands River Lodge Suite


Lion Sands Ivory Lodge Suite


Lion Sands Tree House

The general daily program at all game lodges offers time to really unwind and relax in luxury and comfort while still offering the excitement of being deep in the bush surrounded by game. The general activities offered by Lion Sands Game Lodges run as follows:

An early morning wake up call before dawn, a quick cup of coffee and some fruit or a biscuit followed by a 3 to 4 hour game drive where you have the chance to spot not only the Big 5, but also a wide variety of other game species. You will then return to the lodge for an awesome display of tasty dishes for breakfast and then have time to relax. Enjoy the sun at the pools edge, make use the health spa and enjoy a full body massage, sleep in comfort of your luxury room, or on a hammock over looking the river. You also have the option of a bush walk with a qualified game ranger, a highly recommended activity. The times of these walks will differ depending on the time of the year and the heat of the day.

Lunch will then be served, yet another scrumptious meal followed by more relaxation, reading a book, chatting to the game rangers about their experiences in the bush. A River Tour is also offered, which will get you closer to the rivers edge and to large pools where hippos have made their territories. Some enormous Nile crocodiles can also be seen.

High tea is then offered just before the afternoon game drive. The game drive will run into the evening after sunset, which offers an opportunity to see nocturnal animal species such as the ant bear, pangolin, various owl species, bush babies and brown hyenas. The game tracker who sits on the front of the vehicle during the game drives will manage a spot light. During winter these afternoon and early morning game drives can get quite chilly. Although the open game vehicle provides awesome 360 degrees game viewing, it does not provide warmth! Although the lodge will offer blankets, your own thick jackets, scarves, gloves and woollen hats will be welcomed during winter.
Depending upon the weather, the lodge will provide a special “bush dinner” every alternate evening. Guests are driven to either a dry riverbed or under the African sky on an open plain. Lit only by paraffin lamps and a big open campfire, this dining experience makes for one of the most unforgettable memories of a visit to Africa. Listen to the night sounds and enjoy a delicious meal cooked on the open-coals of the bush fire.


Lion Sands Boma Dinner

My special weekend away had come to an end. The SA Airlink flight departed at 12h30 and arrived in Johannesburg at 13h35, which meant that there was just enough time to enjoy an early morning game drive and a full English breakfast.



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