Sanbona – Walking in the wild!

Luxury Safaris specialises in completely customisable, luxurious and authentic safari experiences in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

A German colleague of mine once said that Cape Town is the little Europe of Africa, a description I will not soon forget!! And it is so true; one has not experienced Africa if you have not come close to the African Wild. Unfortunately the best safari parks are located within the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga, a good 8-14hours drive from Cape Town, and thus it is difficult to get an authentic safari experience within the immediate Cape Town area. If you want an authentic safari experience, take the time to drive to reserves such as Shamwari, Botlierskop, Madi-Madi, Sanbona and Addo.

Recently I had the opportunity to visit the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve located around three and a half hours’ drive out of Cape Town, and let me tell you, it’s worth every minute!!

There are three five star lodges on the 53hectare reserve, each unique in its own way. The 12suite Gondwana Lodge (my favourite!!) has a slightly more modern feel in the lounge and dining areas than that of Tilney Manor, and caters specifically for families. The dining room and lounge area of the 6suite Tilney Manor is home to historic treasures of the reserve including the family tree dating back to the 12th century! Dwyka Lodge is a tented camp and was unfortunately closed during my visit, but due to reopen on the 1st of September 2014.


Apart from the excellent service, the luxurious surroundings and the warm, friendly and attentive staff who makes one feel right at home, the highlight of the stay at Sanbona is definitely their safari drives!

Perhaps I was a little luckier than most, but during the two nights spent at Sanbona, I got to see cheetahs, lions, giraffes, elephants, zebra, kudu, eland, jackal, lots of baboons, klip-springers and many, many more! My ultimate favourite experiences included getting out of the safari vehicle, an armed ranger leading our small group, and walking right up to two fully grown male Cheetahs. It was just incredible to watch them stretch out in the sun and preen each. It is just an entirely different feeling, standing in the grass a few metres away from wild Cheetahs!

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On the same game drive we encountered a group of around 12 elephants, one of which seemed to be playing in the tall riverside grass as the rest of the group moved further into the trees. Perhaps the little one realised that he’s all alone, or just got startled, but the next moment he started trumpeting and storming, ears aloft, towards the vehicle in front of us. Being merely a baby of probably around 8months, it was the most adorable sound and sight that had everyone grabbing at their cameras! It was only when the rest of the group started moving towards us, ears lifted and trunks curled into the air that we decided we had better back out of the situation. An experience that I will never forget.

The Gondwana family, including Grant, Stefan, Amelia, Kobi and the rangers Brenda, JP and Jarred, all go beyond the normal standards of service, spending their personal time to get to know their guests, make them feel at home and share their knowledge and experiences within the lodge and I am sure that the staff of the other lodges will be of the same character and calibre.

A highly recommended Reserve!!

Caren Schoeman

Reservations Manager

0027 461 0775


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