Sabi Sabi – so good they named it twice — Meet The Leader

A safari adventure in the heart of the South African bush is just the thing to blow away those Lockdown blues in 2021.

The word ‘Sabi’ has different interpretations, depending on which corner of the world you find yourself in. In Japan, it indicates an appreciation of fading beauty. In South Africa, it means the complete opposite – unless you consider old crocodiles beautiful: the word is derived from ‘tsave’, which means ‘danger’ or ‘fear’ in the Tsonga dialect, because of the huge numbers of crocs and hippos lurking amid the Sabie River.

So it seems somewhat perverse that one of the most beautiful private game reserves on earth should call itself the equivalent of “Danger Danger!” Luckily, tourists have nothing to fear from this wonder of nature. And for those wishing to stretch their legs in 2021 after Lockdown, or be reunited with their loved ones, Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve should be just the ticket; a gem nestled deep in the Bush, amid some spectacular and unspoiled wildlife.

Founded in 1979, Sabi Sabi is located in in the South-Western section of the Greater Kruger National Park, and there’s a few ways to get here: via a one-hour flight from O.R. Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg); via Skukuza Airport, Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (Nelspruit); or via an especially scenic drive from Johannesburg, chauffeured or otherwise. Those flying in privately will be delighted to discover that Sabi Sabi is accessible via its own airstrip.

Each of Sabi’s eco-friendly camps are members of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of The World; and among its awards are International Traveller 100 Best Hotels & Resorts, 2014; Condé Nast Traveler Readers Choice Award, 2014, 2013, 2012. And now two of those camps – Little Bush and Selati Camp – are available for exclusive use. Each camp, decorated with African artworks, offers a different view and a different kind of vibe: comprised of just six suites, the stylish, intimate Little Bush Camp is clustered around the Msuthlu riverbed, and affords a private viewing deck, heated spa bath, lounge and dining deck. Selati Camp’s a little larger. Drawing its name from the old railway that passed through the Reserve, it offers seven large, elegant and contemporary suites overlooking a busy watering hole. Guests will see plenty of action here.

They’ll be well-watered too: the Reserve keeps an excellent wine collection (this is South Africa, after all) to wash down the wonderful cuisine, prepared by a team of locals skilled in fancy culinary techniques; while the air-conditioned bar offers delicious cocktails. And after a good blow-out, there’s massages available at the Amani Spa. But, while definite pluses, these aren’t the main attractions. No, we’re here to see the critters! To this end, highly qualified rangers and local Shangaan trackers will whisk you on private open vehicles safaris every day around the Bushveld, to see the Big 5 – lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant.

Not to mention some 200 other indigenous species, including cheetahs, hyenas and 350 varieties of birds. In fact, Twitchers ought to consider this place a (bird of) paradise: five percent of the planet’s bird species have been recorded in this part of South Africa. TSabi Sabi is fully committed to conservation and sustainability via a natural habitat management plan – and its outreach drives improve local literacy and promote entrepreneurship, through partnerships and community programmes with nearby villages and schools.

It costs 17,000 ZAR per person per night (approx. £811) based on two sharing, which includes the safari trips, and environmental awareness walking safaris in the price.

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