Next door sits Lion Sands (in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve) and its newer sister reserve, Lion Sands Kruger National Park. These sister reserves enjoy prime river frontage along the Sabi River, which forms the border of the park. Here, the game is solid and the guides well qualified, including my guide, Jo. And because the decks on the rooms are so large and include private plunge pools overlooking the river, it’s a place where guests can just sit and relax by themselves and let the game come to them. And that’s exactly what I did.
From my deck at nine-room Narina Lodge in Lion Sands KNP, I spent the mid-day break sitting on my chaise lounge next to my private plunge pool watching a group of elephants feed, drink and play by the river. After the breeding herd–females and young–moved off, a couple bachelor males stayed and played for an hour, intertwining their trunks, pushing and shoving each other, and trumpeting whenever a tusk was used a bit too forcefully. It was the best afternoon of my trip!
The decks are also large at nearby Tinga, which also has nine rooms, each with its own plunge pool but it also features a common swimming pool. Back in Lion Sands Sabi Sand, River Lodge is the main property and there are a couple inter-leading room options which are great for families. For those who want to splurge or who enjoy a bit more privacy and sophistication, Lion Sands Ivory Lodge is a great option. There’s also a private villa option at Lion Sands 1933, and tree houses for romantic sleep outs, as featured on the Bachelor.
On my game drives here, we saw many of the usual suspects such as impala, elephant and zebra, and it’s also where I had my closest encounter with a male lion (see a video on our You Tube channel), who nearly brushed by hand with his mane. This was also the only place on this trip where I saw a kill, albeit a crested barbet with a caterpillar!
The great news for visitors who want to get to Lion Sands, Sabi Sabi and other private reserves in the southern Sabi Sand is that Skukuza Airport is now re-opened with multiple flights per day from Johannesburg along with others from Cape Town. This will save time and give guests more time for game viewing and enjoying the lodges.