Safari - March 2017 Timbavati vs. Sabi Sands

Sep 3rd, 2016, 11:45 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2016
Posts: 1
Safari - March 2017 Timbavati vs. Sabi Sands

First time safari 2 adults and 2 kids 17 & 19 in mid March. We'll be traveling from Cape Town and likely limited to 2 nights. So many good choices, we generally prefer smaller vs. larger. Boutique Africa, great guides, good food, big 5+ Thoughts and recommendations for this time of year? Likely flying to Hoedspruit or Nelspruit ?
laurieanntaylor is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2016, 12:48 PM
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 212
Hi laurieanntaylor!

There are LOTS of choices and it really does depend upon your style of travel and budget. There are some great luxury tented camps as well as lodges which have more independent suite style accommodations. Most lodges are small and intimate. There really aren't any 'large" lodges relative to or compared hotels. Most offer great guides, food and service. Some put more people in a jeep than others. Some have larger traverse areas than others and there are some areas that have more lodges which share that part of the reserve (for example the NW section of Sabi Sand). Certainly cost is a defining factor on all these different elements of picking just the right lodge that meets your family's needs, style of travel and budget.

Timbavati and Sabi Sand are both private reserves which abut Kruger and since it is a fenceless border, animals move freely and are not in a confined territory. They both offer the Big 5. Sabi Sand perhaps has an edge on leopard sightings but clients get great sightings in both reserves. Many of the Sabi Sand lodges are far better served by Skukuza airport than KMIA (Nelspruit). So that's something for you to keep in mind. HDS is the airport that best serves the Timbavati lodges.

If you can squeeze your itinerary to 3 nights or even 4, then that's far preferred than 2 nights. It's such an amazing experience and one not to be rushed through. You will get 2 game drives per day but on both arrival and departure days, you will only get 1.

If you are able to provide a range in price per night, then that will help with making lodge recommendations. Safari stays in both SS and Timbavati are on an all-inclusive basis so that would include your lodging, food, beverages, and daily game drives. Some lodges also include your alcoholic beverages, laundry and more.

Hope this helps!

Africa Direct USA
diannelovestravel is online now  
Sep 11th, 2016, 08:51 AM
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 34
As stated above it does depend on your budget & preferences but if you prefer smaller then maybe have a look at lodges that only allow 6 people per vehicle , it is the more expensive lodges though.
Do you mind tented camps or prefer the lodge types?
Sandy - owner - Love Africa Travel
loveafricatravel is offline  
Sep 13th, 2016, 06:02 AM
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 33
Hi laurieanntaylor,
This is a tough question, as both reserves offer fantastic lodges, and sharing a fence-less boundary with Kruger National Park, also offer great game-viewing.

I am not sure if leopard are high on your bucket list, but
generally speaking, the Sabi Sands does have better opportunities when it comes to viewing these magnificent cats.
This is not to say that the Timbavati doesn't have a fair share of leopards, I have definitely seen a number, it would just seem that in the Timbavati they appear a bit more 'wild', whereas in Sabi Sands they are more habituated to the vehicles, and so relatively speaking, are far more relaxed and easier to see.

In both of these private reserves you are spoilt for choice with outstanding lodges.
In Timbavati, amongst other, I would happily recommend Ngala, which accommodates just 12 guests in six tents.
In Sabi Sands, yet again, amongst other, I would recommend Leadwood Lodge, which accommodates just eight guests in four suites.
At Rattray's on Mala Mala Camp (Sabi Sands), game drives are restricted to no more than four persons, this may be something to consider if you are partial to a really intimate experience. Rattrays tends towards more elegant and refined, and I am not sure if this marries with your tastes.

There really are so many lodges to choose from ... and it is very difficult to give further sound advice without knowing a budget, personal preferences, and personal taste.

The one things I can say however with complete conviction, is that it would be a great pity not to spend more than two days in the bush, if you could possibly make it three or four days you really won't be sorry.

I do hope this helps,
Happy Planning,
Debbi - Travel Guru, Southern Destinations
Deborah_WH is offline  
Sep 13th, 2016, 12:27 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 5,535
We just got back from Sabi Sands. In a word it was FANTASTIC.

Agree with others, if at all possible stay 3 or 4 nights. We stayed 4 nights at Singita Boulders and 4 nights at Londolozi Granite Lodge. Both were top drawer upscale lodges but Londolozi has 5 lodges in different price ranges. Saw the Big 5 plus lots of other wildlife. Very good guides and trackers at both lodges.
RoamsAround is offline  
Sep 14th, 2016, 07:46 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 597
Love Sabi Sand and have stayed at Singita and Londolozi multiple times. Game viewing is top notch and service,food and decor are stellar at both of these lodges. With that said, there are other wonderful lodges in the area as well. For your time frame, I would choose Sabi Sand and I have also been to Timbavati. Have fun.
Lolazahra is offline  
Sep 14th, 2016, 11:47 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,285
Geez, no reason to break the bank with Singita or Londolozi unless you choose to. So many lodges in every price range. Here's a map of many of the lodges adjacent to Kruger. I don't recommend Thornybush or Kapama reserves or those across R40 as they are fenced from Kruger. Sabi Sand, Manyeleti, Timbavati and Klaserie all have excellent game viewing.

Some of the smaller ones with really great guides are Senalala, Africa on Foot and Motswari. Cheetah Plains and Arathusa are very nice. Kirkmans and Lion Sands might be my favorite locations. Tanda Tula and Shindzela are two tented lodges (Shindzela is very rustic but casual, friendly and fun). The lodges are very competitive so all the lodges within a budget range will have similar service and amenities. It's almost impossible to say which is the "best" but Sabi Sand does the best marketing. The websites are very good, so Google a few to see if any look right to you. Then check reviews and come back and ask for opinions.

If you can stretch it and add a night, it gives you a better opportunity to see everything there is to see. There are direct flights from Cape Town to all three Kruger airports. Use the airport nearest your lodge. (See the map above).
christabir is offline  
Sep 20th, 2016, 06:01 PM
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 31
If I only had two nights on safari no doubt I would go to Mala Mala. The game viewing there was head and shoulders above the other lodges we have visited in Sabi Sand (including the ultra-luxury lodges). With only two nights you want to visit a camp with fantastic, not just good, game viewing.

The lodging and food at Mala Mala isn't over-the-top luxurious like Londolozi or several other lodges, but it is very good. My thought is you can get ultra-luxury anywhere in the world, but if you are going on safari you want world-class game viewing. That is Mala Mala.

Multiple travel options, including the Mala Mala landing strip.
knoxnick37919 is offline  
Sep 24th, 2016, 12:38 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 11
In May we stayed for 3 nights in Sabi Sands at Idube and went on 6 safaris. We thought it would be too much, but the reality is that what you see isn't predictable and you want to make sure you have enough opportunity to witness nature in action. Idube was great; the guides were awesome, we saw the big 5 plus wild/painted dogs(apparently quite rare), baby hyenas and so much more. The food was quite good and the staff was more than willing to accommodate meal requests. We had a transfer to Nelspruit, which took about 1.5 hours so factor in transportation time. We went on an afternoon safari after we arrived, 2/day the following 2 days and one the morning we left. It was plenty.

We also spent 3 nights in Cape Town, so we had 2 full days. There's so much to do there but we were limited so one day in Cape Town and one day on the peninsula. Don't book a tour before you go. The hotels can arrange a driver; we hired a taxi driver for the day to go to the peninsula. Not expensive and private.
lzebo is offline  

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