Considered among the best (and most exclusive!) game reserves in Africa, Sabi Sands Game Reserve is a safari destination you just can’t miss. With miles and miles of unfenced borders with Kruger National Park, Sabi Sands Game Reserve gives visitors the unique opportunity to see some of Africa’s most famous predators close up as they roam free in their natural habitat.
You’ll have your pick of incredible places to stay in Sabi Sands, including impressive ecolodges, remote camps, and more. Looking for the very best Sabi Sands lodges as you plan your dream African safari? These eight incredible lodges – with options fit for travelers on all budgets – will help you find the best place for your vacation and wallet.
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Best Sabi Sands Lodges
Surrounded on three sides by the iconic Kruger National Park, Sabi Sand Game Reserve is home to some of Africa’s most impressive wildlife, long making it a coveted destination for safari travelers the world over. In fact, Sabi Sands is home to the first redefined use of the now-famous Big Five terminology, once used to describe animals dangerous to hunt but now used to identify Africa’s most impressive big game to witness in the world.
While Kruger National Park is home to cheap and basic rest camps for self-driving safari enthusiasts, Sabi Sands boasts some of the most luxurious accommodations in Africa. From award-winning service and restaurant-quality food and wine to lush spas and some of the best-trained guides in Africa, you are sure to have an unforgettable safari experience when staying at one of these best Sabi Sands lodges.
1. Notten’s Bush Camp
One of the original safari lodges in Sabi Sands, the family-owned Notten’s Bush Camp offers both a luxurious and welcoming safari experience for travelers, with only eight private suites giving a secluded feel.
If a “bush camp” makes you think you’ll be roughing it here, think again! Rooms are impressively appointed, and suites offer both indoor and outdoor showers and private decks for sunsets overlooking the bush. A stunning lap pool and intimate spa await you at the end of a long day spent experiencing the wildlife of Sabi Sands up close and personal.
While Notten’s Bush Camp is comfortable, it isn’t pretentiously luxurious like some of the more over-the-top South Africa safari lodges you’ll find in Sabi Sands. Here you’ll feel the character, history, and warmth of family tradition while enjoying the rich wildlife of the area on both walking safaris and expert game drives.
2. Ulusaba Rock Lodge
Located in the heart of the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Ulusaba Game Reserve is the private game reserve of Virgin Group founder and British billionaire Sir Richard Branson. If that doesn’t tell you that you’re in for a luxurious, one-of-a-kind safari retreat, nothing will!
While the property boasts three unique lodges, the most impressive and unique is Ulusaba Rock Lodge. The lodge is built on the edge of a cliff, offering stunning views of the reserve below while featuring an impressive swimming pool, bar, and restaurant against the backdrop of the Drakensberg Mountains. It’s truly an impressive sight to behold, offering a view of Sabi Sands you won’t find anywhere else.
If it sounds unique, that doesn’t mean that Ulusaba Rock Lodge doesn’t offer a world-class safari experience perfect for even a first-time safari traveler. Daily game drives and walking safaris through the reserve cover the private 13,500 hectares of the reserve and are accompanied by professional guides and trackers who can tailor the experience to your interest.
3. Chitwa Chitwa Lodge
Located on the banks of one of the area’s largest dams, Chitwa Chitwa Lodge is an award-winning, family-owned lodge. Waterfront accommodations make for more than just impressive views – you’ll be able to see wildlife right from the lodge’s pool deck and dining area! Sumptuous common spaces, gorgeously appointed await after long days of exploring with world-class guides on game drives.
The lodge has a swimming pool, library, wine cellar, and two restaurants as well as 12 thatched luxury suites, each with its own private plunge pool, deck, and outdoor shower. The suites are incredibly spacious, and the lodge also offers a family suite and an independent two-bedroom house for travelers looking for even more privacy.
4. Cheetah Plains
Considered among the most luxurious safari lodges in all of Africa, Cheetah Plains is a modern lodge taking the safari experience to the next level. Gone are the traditional design features of a safari lodge, replaced with modern yet elegant luxury, making the most of untouched surroundings. A fleet of new silent, electric safari vehicles and a collection of art from Africa’s most renowned artists are among the small details that make a big impact on both guest experience and local impact.
Home to just three exclusive-use villas, each with four bedrooms, Cheetah Plains is the perfect safari destination for luxury travelers looking for seclusion or bringing the whole family along for the safari of a lifetime.
On hand is an entire service team for each villa, including a private chef, ensuring your experience is top-notch and catered to your own interests and preferences. Each villa boasts private decks and lounges with incredible views of the bush; even soaking tubs offer incredible views.
5. Elephant Plains Game Lodge
Looking for a luxurious experience in Sabi Sands Game Reserve that won’t break the bank? Elephant Plains Game Lodge is among the very best Sabi Sands lodges for a more affordable experience in this notorious high-end destination. Accommodations are superb, with each room featuring a private deck, en-suite bathroom, and spectacular views of the reserve. You’ll also have access to a swimming pool, bar, and restaurant on-site.
Don’t worry, you’ll be able to see more than just elephants at Elephant Plains! The Big Five of Africa is an easy target when staying in this pristine part of Sabi Sands, and expert guides go above and beyond to make sure you encounter them all!
6. Arathusa Safari Lodge
Arathusa Safari Lodge is known for its Big Five game viewing and wildlife. Located on the edge of an impressive watering hole, you can’t find a better place to experience wildlife without even having to leave your lodge. A pod of hippos regularly entertain guests relaxing by the infinity pool or enjoying a treatment at the lodge’s signature spa.
Beyond the watering hole, guided game drives through the bush are led by some of the area’s best wildlife guides, who know the area like the back of their hand. Walking safaris and game drives throughout the day are unmissable experiences.
Returning to this well-appointed lodge at the end of the day is the ultimate serene luxury experience. Choose from bush-facing or watering-hole-facing suites; either way, you’re sure to have the time of your life experiencing the wildlife of South Africa right from your own private space!
7. andBeyond Tengile River Lodge
One of the many andBeyond properties in South Africa, Tengile River Lodge is a five-star lodge in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve that exceeds even andBeyond’s world-renowned standards for a luxury safari experience. The lodge offers incredible accommodations, world-class cuisine, and unparalleled game-viewing experiences.
The lodge is on the banks of the Tengile River, offering guests stunning views of the river and the surrounding bushveld, perfect for animal sightings. It blends with its natural surroundings with thatched roofs and stone walls, helping to keep the lodge cool in the heat of the day.
The accommodations at Tengile River Lodge are luxurious and comfortable, with each of the nine suites being over 2,000 square feet (200 square meters) in size, featuring a plush king-size bed, en-suite bathrooms, and an indoor/outdoor lounge area with a private patio and outdoor shower, as well as private plunge pools with breathtaking views.
8. Lion Sands Game Reserve
One of the largest pieces of the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, the Lion Sands Game Reserve sits along the southern portion of the reserve, with a long southern border on Kruger National Park. This makes it one of the most enviable areas of Sabi Sands, home to incredible wildlife and a variety of impressive Sabi Sands lodges that provide an unforgettable safari experience.
Lions Sands is home to four beautiful loges and two private residences, all among the best places to stay in Sabi Sands Game Reserve. While Lion Sands River Lodge is a favorite, the property’s hallmark lodge, don’t overlook the others! Lion Sands Ivory Lodge, Lion Sands Tinga Lodge, and Lion Sands Narina Lodge, as well as an array of incredible treehouse accommodations, are all among the most impressive safari lodges in the area.
Whether you’re looking for a secluded, romantic getaway or the space and freedom of a private residence, Lion Sands is one of the very best places to stay in Sabi Sands. With world-class safari guides and second-to-none accommodations, they provide one of the best experiences in all of Sabi Sands.
Lodges in Sabi Sands
From out-of-this-world luxury accommodations to thoughtful ecolodges that put sustainability first, you’ll find it all at Sabi Sands. It’s not just the wildlife encounters and gorgeous scenery that have put Sabi Sands Game Reserve on the map, but the incredible travel experience of staying at one of these best Sabi Sands lodges. Start planning your dream South Africa safari at Sabi Sands and get ready for the safari trip of a lifetime!
Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.