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Michele looks in depth at the Sabi Sands (bordering Kruger), South Africa – December, 2010

Sabi Sands leopardMy last educational of 2010 was to South Africa to explore the Sabi Sands Game Reserve bordering the southern Kruger National Park. This was my second visit to Sabi Sands, so I knew what to expect, but was still totally blown away with the quality of the game viewing! The Sabi Sands has long been known as a destination which offers pretty guaranteed sightings of the ‘big five’ (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino). In addition, predators such as cheetah, hyaena and wild dogs are regularly sighted. We often hear about the wonderful game-viewing our customers enjoy, but on this trip it seemed it was my turn. My most incredible morning game-viewing was on a transfer between two properties, when within the space of an hour or so, I spotted a herd of buffalo, a bull elephant, two male lion, a mother and baby rhino and a female leopard  – more than I usually see in a 10 day educational trip!  If this was not enough excitement for one day I had a lion kill thrown in too on the afternoon game-drive. There is no doubt that for up close game-viewing of Africa’s big game, the Sabi Sands (and other neighbouring private reserves) really do offer an incredible experience.

I visited a wide range of properties in the region, from intimate tented camps to sophisticated luxury lodges, but was particularly interested in honeymoon options. South Africa is such a great Sabi Sands battle scarredhoneymoon destination and the guaranteed game-viewing combined with the high quality of safari accommodation available always makes private reserves like Sabi Sands a favourite option for honeymoon couples. I was impressed by the quality of accommodation on offer, but was perhaps equally impressed by the knowledge of the guides, the delicious food, first class service and warm hospitality. In terms of the individual properties, there are too many good options to detail, but what is most important for us is to match the right style and price to the right people. Throughout the region, there is a good range of small, intimate lodges offering that “drinks around the camp fire” authenticity, a few of which are ‘tented’, and a healthy supply of more contemporary or luxurious lodges, some offering extreme luxury with air-conditioning, private butlers and private plunge pools.

Sabi Sands Russet-bush-willowIf you are looking for a short safari with genuine ‘wow’ factor, the Sabi Sands is without a doubt an excellent option. Close by, private reserves like the Timbavati Game Reserve offer a similar experience. These regions also combine well with Victoria Falls, Cape Town (and associated areas such as the Cape Winelands and Hermanus, the whale watching capital of the world) and with exotic beach destinations like Mozambique or Mauritius. A few days uncap Town or perhaps seeing Victoria Falls, followed by a big five safari in Sabi Sands and a beach add on to the Indian Ocean– what a perfect honeymoon!