Did you know?
About 5% of the world’s bird species can be seen in the Sabi Sand region.
There is no other place like Sabi Sabi's Earth Lodge. Sculpted into the side of a gentle hill, it awakens your senses at every turn.
It is well named – it is part of the Earth, and in harmony with it. So beautifully does Earth Lodge blend into its surrounding environment that it has been described as the most ecologically sensitive luxury lodge on the entire African continent.
There are 13 suites, each with its own plunge pool, indoor and outdoor shower, and unique sculptures. The fact that they are built into a hill naturally insulates them. Earth Lodge is cool in summer and cosy in winter.
The Amber Presidential Suite is the pièce de résistance. An astounding sculpture in the bedroom is only a small part of the attraction. Stay here and you’ll have your own steam room, study, kitchenette, lounge, expansive dining area and your very own butler.
You'll also have your own game-viewing vehicle. And the views are astonishing, including that from your large, egg-shaped bath.
Sabi Sabi is certified as a Fair Trade in Tourism destination and has won several environmental awards for its sensitive handling of wastewater, which is purified through a natural wetland – a perfect haven for waterfowl. Once purified, it runs along natural drainage lines and seeps back into the Earth.
Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve is located within the larger Sabi Sand Reserve. Its wildlife sightings, specifically of the Big 5, are legendary.
They were even legendary nearly a century ago, when hunting had left far fewer wild animals than there are today.
The railway line between Johannesburg and Komatipoort near the Mozambican border used to run through here. One particular story recounts a time when the train stopped to pick up passengers at Newington siding, part of the present Sabi Sabi.
It was night-time and the expected passengers where nowhere to be seen. Puzzled, the train driver headed on to Komatipoort. Unbeknownst to him, said passengers were trapped in nearby trees by a pride of hungry lions, despairingly watching their train steam away.
After that, thoughtful railway officials placed permanent ladders against the trees so that passengers could more easily escape dangerous predators.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Sabi Sabi head office
Tel: +27 (0)11 447 7172
Fax: +27 (0)11 442 0728
How to get here
There are daily scheduled flights to the Sabi Sabi airstrip from OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg. There are also Airlink flights to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport, outside Nelspruit, from Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.
From there you can either take a short aerial hop to Sabi Sabi or drive (a journey of about 2 hours).
If you drive from Johannesburg, it will take you around 5 or 6 hours. Sabi Sabi’s website has a printable map with detailed directions.
Best time to visit
Although the nights can be chilly, autumn, winter and spring (April through to October) are excellent months for game viewing because vegetation is lower. The day temperatures are very pleasant. This is a summer rainfall area, so it’s very green between November and March. For birdwatchers, this is the ideal time to see migrant species.
Tours to do
If you have a particular interest in wildlife photography, you might want to consider a specialised photographic safari where you’ll be mentored by a top photographer.
Once there, you will be transported on 4x4 game-viewing vehicles.
What will it cost
The accommodation rates (which include all meals and 2 game drives a day) are R9 300, rising to R17 000 per person per night in the Amber Presidential Suite.
Length of stay
To truly relax and have an excellent chance of seeing the Big 5, set aside 3 days, or 2 at the very least.
Where to stay
Apart from Earth Lodge, Sabi Sabi has 3 other highly acclaimed lodges: Selati, Bush Lodge and Little Bush Lodge.
What to eat
At Earth Lodge, expect to eat a delicious fusion of African and Asian cuisine. Many of the ingredients are locally sourced.