It’s a daunting task when you stare at a computer or tablet screen during the beginning stages of planning your safari.
If you don’t have a reliable travel agent or friend who knows the ropes, choosing where to go on safari can seem like a task unbefitting of the relaxation you’ll eventually enjoy when you arrive. Typing in the search term ‘Safari in Africa’ can yield an immeasurable number of options. You will be faced with varying degrees of luxury, varied rates and – possibly the most confusing of all – incredibly varied positions within the country. So, with that in mind, I thought I could provide a bit of help in explaining something very close to home by highlighting what the difference is between the Sabi Sand Reserve and the Kruger National Park.
One corridor of land for the animals to roam
The first thing to understand is that the Sabi Sand Reserve (bottom left in the above map) and the Kruger National Park are connected ( i.e. they are not separated by fences). Along with a large amount of other land surrounding us, we form what is known as the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier National Park. This is a Peace Park that encompasses three different countries (South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique). The entire area (if you include the wildlife corridors) is roughly 8 million acres of land which is totally unfenced. This means that the animals have free reign to move all over the land, which is wonderful for us, and, more importantly, them.
However for the purposes of a safari, when choosing the Sabi Sand over a property in the Kruger National park, there are a few distinct differences:
Following the tracks wherever they may lead.
The first is probably the biggest difference between the two, and one that has the potential to be the biggest benefit to visiting a property in the Sabi Sand Reserve. Due to the Sabi Sand Reserve being privately owned, there are no blanket rules that govern the way in which a safari can be conducted on the land, other than the owners’ own rules that they apply. Within the Kruger National Park however, being government owned and controlled, there are strict rules that do not permit any vehicle to leave the demarcated roads.
As I said, this rule does not apply within the Sabi Sand Reserve, which allows our vehicles to follow any animal that may leave the path of the main road and head in a different direction. With this great freedom comes a greater responsibility to be sensitive to the animals and to the land on which we drive, but this really allows us to get closer to the animals than if you were in a national park and had to remain on the road where the animal left it.
Experienced Ranger and Tracker Teams
The next key difference between the two types of parks is that – like Londolozi – many of the properties in the Sabi Sand Reserve conduct safaris with a Ranger and Tracker team. This team provides a combination of skills which allows them to place a massive emphasis on the art of tracking animals in the wild. The ranger and tracker team are incredibly gifted from a wilderness point of view, and being able to successfully track animals in the wild means that you, as guests, have a much greater chance of finding the animals that might be on your ‘must see’ list.
Many habitats in one area
Other benefits that are not necessarily specific to the Sabi Sands, but which certainly do occur, are the different habitats types within a small area. At Londolozi, we traverse 15 000 hectares, and within that space, we have a number of different habitat types. We have beautiful drainage lines with a lot of riverine type of bush with attracts certain animals (specifically leopards). We also have grasslands which entice other species of animals – such as plains game like zebra, buffalo, wildebeest, antelope and the likes. We have rocky outcrops which bring another kind of diversity to the landscape, and where leopards den their cubs in safety.
All of these different types of habitat allow for you to see a varied landscape over a period of your three or four-night stay, which is not necessarily the case in some parts of the Kruger National Park.
A pleasingly high density of leopards
The Sabi Sands is renowned for its leopard densities. It has some of the highest leopard densities of anywhere in the world. At Londolozi, for example, within 15 000 hectares, we consistently view about 20 different leopards at any one time, and this high populations of cats is a great benefit to visiting a private wilderness area as opposed to a national park, as this is one of the key attractions to this area.
You get 1000 hectares all to yourself
Finally (and this might be the kicker), specific to Londolozi, which lies at the heart of the matter, is the land cover to hectare density ratio. As I said before, we traverse roughly 15 000 hectares of land, and at full capacity, we will only ever have a maximum of 15 vehicles out at any one time during a game drive (which is a rarity). So, what that equates to is 1000 hectares per vehicle… a rather large amount of space in which you can roam freely, track and find animals in diverse habitats and spend as much time as you like viewing these animals without a load of other vehicles arriving into the sighting. This is something that we feel is one of the most important parts of our safari; to watch animals behaving in their natural habitat for long periods of time, as opposed to simply seeing them and moving on.
While the other aspects of choosing your next safari may still be tricky to navigate, I hope that you have a better understanding of the differences between the Sabi Sands and The Kruger National Park. Better yet, I hope that it has persuaded you to come and visit us at Londolozi…