COVID-19 Travel Advisory: Stay up to date with the latest on the coronavirus pandemic.   Learn More >

Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Africa & the Middle East
Reload this Page >

Game drives: comparison between Sabi Sands and Kruger

Game drives: comparison between Sabi Sands and Kruger

Old Apr 17th, 2007, 01:09 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,149
Game drives: comparison between Sabi Sands and Kruger

Still looking how to optimize our first safari in southern Africa in june 2008
We will combine 4-5 nights in Sabi Sands and 3-4 in Kruger Park.

Have just realized from the web that also some camps in Kruger Park offer morning and night guided game drives beyond gates opening times.
Does someone have experience with these game drives in Kruger and how they can be compared to those in the private Sabi Sands ?
Would Satara camp be a good choice for gameviewing leopard, lions and possibly cheetah ?
I know that Sabi Sands has excellent gameviewing, probably the best, but what about Kruger ?
Fabio is offline  
Old Apr 17th, 2007, 01:19 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,892
The big difference is that nobody goes off-road inside the national park, whereas the lodges can do as they please (relatively speaking) in the private reserves.

I don't think there's much comparison, frankly. Game viewing will be better in the Sabi Sands than in Kruger proper, but of course there are no set rules - you might or might not see any particular species in either.
Gardyloo is offline  
Old Apr 17th, 2007, 01:28 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,149
My 12 yrs old son is very excited for gameviewing.
In Sabi Sands we can have morning and nights drives off-roads, but just a bush walk inbetween 9am and 4:30pm, during the most of the day, unless we rent a private vehicle for the whole day.
In Kruger we could have everything: game drives off-roads and regular self drives on the roads.
Provided that there are no fences between Kruger southwest and Sabi Sands bordering with Mala Mala, is it correct to consider game drives in this Kruger section of the same shared area similar in terms of quality to those drives done in the Mala Mala side ?
Fabio is offline  
Old Apr 17th, 2007, 01:43 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
At Kruger Sep 2006, we took two of these night drives out of Kruger camps, Mopani and Satari. The vehicle are small trucks with open sides that seat about 30 people if full. Ours were half full. They do not go off road and stay out 2 hours or so. On one game drive we saw fairly close a mother lion and her two very young cubs. That was the highlight and all I can really remember from the two drives. Still worth doing though, it is exciting being out in the dark, something to do, and did not cost a lot, maybe $15 a person.

There is no comparison with Sabi Sands game drives. At Kruger and you are your own driver, spotter, tracker, and ranger. I can't imagine being in Kruger without a car and driving myself around. I would not go unless I did that. We enjoyed it and are going back this Sep 2007. We also enjoy Mala and other camps. They are two very different ways of being with African wildlife.

True Sabi Sands shares the border with Kruger but there are no roads in Kruger that come close to that border (within 3 miles). In addition, the Sand River runs through Sabi Sands and it is a big draw for wildlife. And it is further away still from the Kruger border. It does however flow through Kruger around/near Sukuza.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Old Apr 17th, 2007, 01:53 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,916
I have driven in the westernmost portion of Kruger, and the roads are not that close to the Sabi Sands, so it does not replicate the game viewing in the Sabi Sands. That being said, I preferred my time in Kruger to my time in the Sabi Sands precisely because I found most of the day in the Sabi Sands to be "wasted" at the pool, whereas while in Kruger I was able to spend 10 or more hours on game drives. That being said, the game viewing in the Sabi Sands is better, and we got much closer to the animals, but I would trade excellent, short game drives for full day game drives that were excellent at times, and average at others.

I also did a night game drive in Kruger, and it was in a large truck and we didn't see much. I wouldn't go to Kruger if I was relying on their game drives.

Check out the Kruger photos and info, and the Kruger forum, on
thit_cho is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2007, 02:39 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 395
I second that. Visited Kruger on my very first safari. The game drives arranged by the parks is very inexpensive, but the experience broadly reflects the cost. The trucks seat 30-odd people (we were along on one drive from Lower Sabie, but thats pure luck), stick to the main roads for the most part and the drivers/guides are far from interested.

Going into Kruger without a car is a no-no. The evening game drives are a possibility since the trucks stay out after the gates have closed.
amolkarnik is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2007, 08:12 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 987
My experience with the game drives in Kruger over the last 25 years is very good, but of course, I've been many times. The rangers vary from good to excellent. The vehicles also vary in size. If only a few people book a particular drive, they can sometimes take a smaller vehicle. The trick in Kruger is to sit up front near the ranger, so you can ask questions.

On our visits to Kruger we always do game drives with the rangers as well as self-driving. This way we can spend as much time as we want in the wild.

It can be good to be able to follow an animal off the main road, but it isn't necessarily true that the wildlife prefers to stay away from the pavement. Early in the morning the paved roads in Kruger are really good for game spotting, because the animals like the warmth of the pavement. One of our best spottings was a mother hyena with three nursing cubs, right on the edge of the paved road near our camp.

Most guests at the private reserves will be from someplace other than South Africa, but in Kruger you are likely to meet some SA locals. Your 12-year old son might enjoy that especially.

I think the ideal trip would combine Kruger and a private reserve.
Celia is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2007, 01:06 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,149
thank you all !

We will definitely rent a car for either Kruger and transfers within Sabi Sands lodge.
Last year we were in Etosha park and it was amazing to look for wildlife from our own car, especially for the kids.
Yes, I also think a combination of game drives in Sabi Sands and self-drives in Kruger is the best option. In june winter daylight is less than usual and most of the morning/evening game drives would necessarely occur during low-light conditions, even harder for taking pics and videos for non-professioals like me ! Then, how could I fill the rest of the day time at the camp ? We do not care of the luxury of the lodges or other amenities and that would be wasted time, as thit_cho says. My son just wants to see as much wildlife as possible !
Fabio is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2007, 01:37 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
Do Kruger first before Sabi Sands. If you do Kruger after Sabi, your kids may be whining they want to go back to Sabi, seriously.
regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2007, 02:43 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,149
tom you are right !!
I will do like that: the best at last!
The down side is when we have to leave back home from Sabi rather than from Kruger !!
Fabio is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2007, 03:03 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
Ok, you've got a point. So do Kruger, then Sabi then back to Kruger
regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Africa & the Middle East
Sep 15th, 2011 02:37 PM
Africa & the Middle East
Aug 18th, 2010 07:50 AM
Africa & the Middle East
Jun 16th, 2009 04:01 PM
Africa & the Middle East
May 17th, 2006 11:26 PM
Africa & the Middle East
Apr 12th, 2006 09:10 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information