The Sabi Sands Game Reserve is a 65,000 hectare reserve, pioneered by local landowners in the 1950s, and shares a border with the world-renowned Kruger National Park. Today, many of these families are now third and fourth generation land owners, their legacy being the successful conservation of the highest density of big game in South Africa. Even though there is a 50 kilometre unfenced boundary with the Kruger National Park, wildlife in the Sabi Sands Reserve is well habituated resulting in extraordinary close encounters and prolific sightings, particularly of the elusive leopard. The Sabi and the Sand Rivers run through the reserve, which add further dimension to the bio-diversity of this area.
Seeing the "Big Five" in the wild is one of the most memorable things one can ever experience. The African continent is the only place in the world where big game still roams freely in great numbers. In particular the Kruger National Park area and the neighboring private game reserves are famous for the incredible possibilities seeing the Big Five up close. The term "Big Five" is reminiscent of the old safari hunting days. The name is not derived from the size of the animals as many people believe. Rather, these five animals proved to be the five animals that were the most difficult to hunt. Sabi Sands Game Reserve offers excellent possibilities for viewing Africa's Big Five. The "Big Five" are: 'Leopard; Lion; Buffalo; African Elephant and Rhinoceros.
Sabi Sands is in particular well known for its amazing leopard sightings. The most elusive animal of the Big 5 is frequently spotted when going on a gamedrive in the reserve. As such, Sabi Sands offers the ultimate photographic safari one can think of. You can be certain to return home with some absolutely stunning pictures and memories. Besides the Big 5, other game species occur in great numbers, among which are more than 300 bird species. Sabi Sands possibly makes the best South African safari destination for wildlife enthusiasts, photographers and bird watchers alike.
So what is the 'secret' behind Sabi Sand's success story? For this one has to have a closer look at the reserve's history. Many of the land surface of what now is the Sabi Sands Game Reserve used to be agricultural land. As cattle farms occurred in the area, a reliable source of water was needed on the farms. To provide this water many boreholes were drilled providing a steady supply of water. After the establishment of Sabi Sands as a game reserve these waterholes and dams were kept intact and still function as watersource. It is now not cattle that drinks this water, but the many wild animals in the game reserve. As the waterholes provide an abundance of water throughout the year (and seasonal influences are not much of a factor) Sabi Sands proves to be a very popular place for large herds of animals. This to the enjoyment of travellers and large predators alike.
The original Sabie Reserve was already proclaimed in 1898. It turned out to be the forerunner of the massive Kruger National Park. Many of the original landowners were excised from the area when in 1926 the National Parks Act was passed. In turn, the former land owners created the Sabi Private Game Reserve adjacent to Kruger National Park in 1934. Of these pioneering land owners, six families still own land in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, they are now third and fourth generation owners. In 1948 the landowners formally formed what now is the Sabi Sand Reserve, the first game reserve in South Africa.