The Sabi Sands Reserve holds a special place in the world of safari. The Big Five are very much on display here, along with some rare species, and it is famous for its unbelievable game viewing and luxury accommodation. This private reserve, abutting the famed Kruger Park in South Africa, is one Africa’s oldest – established in the 1930s. Today it boasts some two dozen exclusive concessions, five of which host privileged guests of Southern Destinations.

Singita Boulders Lodge
Spectacular river view from Singita Boulders Lodge

Singita is rated as one of the world’s top safari lodges on several lists and comprises a handful of intimate camps, each with a unique feel. These include the magical Boulders Lodge which pulls out all the stops and has an envious location besides the Sand River. The stately Singita Ebony, also on the river, provides a similar level of top end luxury, whilst the Castleton Camp is more down-to-earth. Each has a relaxing and exclusive atmosphere, where nothing is hurried except the swing of your camera to capture a movement in the bush.

View from Londolozi Granite suites
The exclusive Londolozi Granite suite which features a private bath overlooking elephants

Londolozi, with their ‘Londo Philosophy’ towards conservation tourism, enjoys a celebrity status on the safari circuit, being one of the most established private concessions in the Sabi Sands. It boasts a range of activities that suit the whole family and includes a host of new generation facilities like a spa, as well as the Shangaan village and even the John Varty cinematography centre, making it a great family family safari destination. It offers more affordable options at its Founders and Varty Camps while those who prefer exclusivity might prefer the three private chalets at Pioneer Camp, or the über-luxurious Granite Suites where you have the unique opportunity of watching elephants at dusk from the comfort of your bath. And then there is the beautiful Tree Camp which boasts lavish Ralph Lauren wallpaper.

View from Lion Sands 1933
Uninterrupted views at Lion Sands 1933

Lion Sands is in the southern reaches of the reserve, on the Sand River, and is proudly family-run. Lion Sands River Lodge is sensibly priced and enjoys river frontage. It’s like a small hotel and offers a luxurious experience for those who prefer a little company around the campfire. Lion Sands Ivory Lodge, on the other hand, was once voted ‘Top Hotel in the World’ by Tatler and offers the ultimate in privacy with spacious, self-contained suites boasting their own pools – perfect for honeymooners. Lion Sands is great for close-up predator encounters and birding.

Lions brawling on Mala Mala tour
Up close to lions brawling on safari at Mala Mala

Mala Mala is perhaps the jewel in the crown of the Sabi Sands, with its riverside location and the largest tract of private land in the reserve. Seeing the Big Five here is almost guaranteed. Sable Camp is intimate without being too pretentious, and enjoys an excellent vantage over the river. Main Camp has a similar location, larger and more ‘sociable’, but offering a similar array of activities, from game walks, to night drives and conservation activities. Rattray’s is a more up-market alternative, ideal for those who want the full list of facilities, including an exercise gym, private library and spa treatments. And then there is Ulusaba, quite unlike any other camp and part of the inspired collection of Richard Branson worldwide properties. This extraordinary lodge comprises of Rock Lodge – luxurious rondavals (African ‘villas’) set among the granite boulders of a hillock that afford marvellous views across the plains. There’s no river, butyou have peace and privacy here, as well as spectacular views across the savannah plains below. Each is uniquely decorated as part of the safari experience, and activities range from game drives, to stargazing, wellness pampering and volunteering on conservation programs. Access to our Big Five safari lodges of the Sabi Sands is made convenient with short daily scheduled (or private if you wish) charter flights from Johannesburg directly into the reserve. From the airstrip it is a thrilling game drive to the lodge. After that it’s just you, bush luxury, the animals and the timeless African sun.