The History of the Sabi Sands Game Reserve

Black and White Zebra.
The Sabi Sands Game Reserve is one of the oldest safari parks in South Africa and is renowned world-wide for its successful conservation projects, excellent game viewing and luxurious lodges. Although the seeds of creation of the Sabi Sands can be traced back to the late 1800's,history records the official creation of the Sabi Private Game Reserve in 1934 which later became the Sabi Sands Private Reserve in 1948. Today at least 6 of the original families still own large tracts of the land, with third or fourth generation owners still in possession of the land.

Human habitation

Historical evidence shows that the savannah country now known as the Sabi Sands Game Reserve was inhabited by man for many years. Stone Age artefacts, Bushmen paintings and trading artefacts linked to the Arab, Portuguese and Dutch traders all point to a long and rich history. The Voortrekkers passed through the land during their journeys and the Shangaan tribe developed here after King Shaka attempted to conquer the various regional tribes.

Location of the game reserve

The Sabi Sands Game Reserve is located in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa and takes its name from the two rivers that flow through the wilderness area; the Sabi River and the Sand River. Stretching across 65 000 hectares of land, the game reserve shares an unfenced eastern border with the Kruger National Park, however; this has not always been the case.

Building up then breaking down fences

In 1961 fences were erected between the two game reserves; the Kruger National Park and the Sabi Sands Reserve due to the threat of foot and mouth disease and the continued threat from hunters. The reserve then also erected fences on the western perimeter to prevent the wildlife from moving out of the area.The eastern border fences remained in place until 1993 when, after much discussion they were finally removed. The animals soon migrated across the border and now roam freely between the two reserves.

Incredible game viewing

With the valuable resource, water, being supplied by both rivers, the Sabi Sands has one of the highest wildlife populations in Africa as well as the most bio-diverse in the country. Home to over 200 different species of game animals including the Big Five, Sabi Sands has become famous for their Leopard conservation project.Guests at one of the luxury game lodges in the reserve can enjoy organised game drives guided by both a game ranger and a skilled game tracker, ensuring incredible game sightings.Accommodation in the game reserve is comprised mainly of privately run game lodges, many of which are owned by the ancestors of the original pioneers. Today the private game reserve is considered to be the birthplace of the luxury African safari and with so many years in the industry it is no wonder that it is renowned as one of the top locations for those discerning guests looking for top quality, 5 star luxury and service.

The ‘birth' of the Big Five

In the 1970's and 1980's when the new concept of a luxury safari was being conceptualise and implemented at the Sabi Sands, the marketing teams played on the historical hunting concept of the Big Five; at the time, the five most dangerous animals to hunt, and altered it to become a list of the top, ultimate animals to see while on a safari.Today visitors embark on safaris with the goal of seeing the ultimate of game animals; Leopard, Lion, Rhino, Buffalo and Elephant and the hunting concept has been completely adapted for a more environmentally friendly ethos.

Plans to expand

There are currently plans to expand the Sabi Sands Reserve and to amalgamate it with wildlife protection areas in Mozambique and Zimbabwe in order to form a massive Peace Park between all the countries.
Welcome to Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve
  • Customer Support
  • Tel: +27 21 424 1037
  • Fax: +27 21 424 1036
  • Contact by Mail
  • Business Hours
  • Mon - Fri. 08:00 - 17:00
  • Saturday. 08:00 - 12:00
©2017 Siyabona Africa (Pty)Ltd - Private Tours and Safari