Featured Safari near Cape Town
Sanbona Wildlife Reserve boasts 54,000 hectares at the foot of the towering Warmwaterberg Mountains, wide-open Karoo plains, indigenous flora and fauna and rare examples of San rock art, some dating back more than 3,500 years.
More than a Big Five wilderness reserve, it's the vastness of the landscape, the alluring stillness and isolation amid raw beauty and boundless plains that make Sanbona unique. Sanbona is home to White Lions and big game, as well as, the rare Riverine Rabbit. The White Lion Project at Sanbona that aims to return white lions to the wild has proved to be a success. This makes Sanbona home to free-roaming White Lions.
Big Five game viewing close to Cape Town
The malaria-free Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is around a three-hour scenic drive from Cape Town in the heart of the Little Karoo, along Route 62 - the longest wine route in the world.
Directions to Sanbona
3 hour drive from Cape Town. Private airstip situated on Game Reserve.
Private air charters as well as private road transfers can be arranged into Sanbona Wildlife Reserve. The drive from Cape Town to Sanbona will take approximately 3 hours. Guests can self-drive from anywhere in South Africa to Sanbona.
Situated on the world renowned Route 62 between Montagu and Barrydale, Western Cape, South Africa, and near to famous Cape Town. The reserve consists undulating mountains and plains, indigenous fauna and flora, rock formations and rock art make Sanbona Wildlife Reserve a destination not to be missed.
Sanbona, known as one of the Western Cape's premier wildlife destinations, honours the spirit of the San people and invites you to explore a special wilderness sanctuary, offering five star accommodation at three luxurious lodges and a back to nature Explorer Camp adventure, surrounded by ancient volcanic mountains and endless vistas.
Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, set along the lesser travelled Route 62 highway which runs some 450km from Cape Town to Oudtshoorn. Often referred to as the 'inland alternative' to the Garden Route, this route takes you through rural South Africa, past tiny dust-ridden towns and into the Klein Karoo, a stretch of arid semi-desert which meanders its way up country.
The Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is sandwiched between the towns of Barrydale and Montagu, set against a landscape of rolling hills. The San (Bushmen) were the first to wander this area and their history echoes across the expansive plains.
Geographically Sanbona is positioned within the Little Karoo in the Western Cape at the foot of the Warmwaterberg Mountains. Combine these two facts with it's incredible size and you have the perfect recipe for stunning mountain vistas, wide open spaces and vegetation.
At Sanbona they have a unique approach to the wildlife experience, the word Sanbona comes from the San people and the word 'bona' means vision, the San people believe in living in harmony with nature and their vision has come to life at Sanbona. That's not to say you won't see any game, because you will. And of course Sanbona is most famous for its free roaming white lion, Sanbona is one of only two places in the world where this rare beast still lives freely.
White Lion Lodge - Luxury Accommodation on Sanbona
The privately owned White Lion Lodge situated in the Southern part of the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve offers luxury accommodation, exceptional personal service and delicious cuisine combined with game and nature drives. The Lodge is set along the tranquil Klein Kalkoenshoek River, offering an ultimate Karoo experience.
The White Lion Lodge is a combination of contemporary decor mixed with Karoo sandstone, timber, thatch, airy free flowing spaces and hues of Karoo slate are breathtaking stylish, sophisticated yet refreshingly simple. Nature fibers and textures characterize the interiors.
"Right from the start the magic surrounds you."
Soft candlelight and lanterns put a soft layer of romance on the whole house.
Be welcomed back to warm up at the fireplace in winter, enjoy open veranda doors in summer or let us pamper you with South African cuisine in the bush.
You are invited to cozy around the fireplace with a drink until the flames dazzle you to sleep.
Soft candlelight and lanterns put a soft layer of romance on the whole house.
Book Game Drive
Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is a pioneering wildlife reserve buried deep in the Klein Karoo.
It's an area comprising sandstone cliffs, open valleys and tree-fringed river beds that's currently home to 650 plant species, 160 bird species, a natural gallery of San rock art and an ever-increasing variety of indigenous wildlife.
Predators already resident include Cheetah, Leopard, Brown Hyena, Caracal and African wildcat. It hasn't been an easy or rapid process.
The process of ecological research complete, Sanbona is now home to all of the Big Five game species, including the world's southernmost free-ranging Rhino. Emphasis on 'Big Five game viewing' however, is avoided as at the moment the larger animals are few and far between, being introduced in small groups and monitored carefully before their numbers are increased. Botany is as important as animal biology to the conservation programme at Sanbona - non-indigenous, invading species of plant arrived here as early as the 1700s as a result of over-grazing by the goats and sheep of the pastoralists who used the Klein Karoo for winter grazing. The sweet vegetation and sourveld plants of the Karoo, being very specialised to their environment, are vulnerable to competition from hardier species which are less palatable to sheep, cattle and goats.
In the meantime, the White Lions, and their tawny counterparts, will pad across the wide, mystical landscape of Sanbona, protected and cherished as part of the mystical harmony between man and nature. Today's visitors to Sanbona are being taught to appreciate the inter-connectedness of all living things and the importance of restoring this harmony - for this, above all else, is the vision of the San.
Animals that roamed the area freely living amongst the San but were eradicated are being reintroduced. The Big Five - Lion, Leopard (rarely spotted in the Western Cape), Buffalo, Elephant and Rhinoceros as well as various other species such as Gemsbok, Springbok, Hartebeest, Eland, Kudu, Black Wildebeest and Zebra will be seen on Sanbona Wildlife Reserve. Natural small game such as Jackal, Caracal, Aardwolf, Ant bear, Brown Hyena, Grey Rhebuck, Steenbuck, Klipspringer, Grysbok and Common Duiker continue to thrive.
About Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Sanbona, a 54,000 hectare wildlife reserve offers guests luxurious lodges surrounded by towering mountains and open plains, allowing clients to relive the legacy of the San people and absorb the beauty of the Little Karoo.
Supporting around 650 species of plants flowering at different times throughout the year, although some more prolific between August and September. There are various floral kingdoms that make up the Reserve, including Acacia Thickets, Nama, Karoo, Renosterveld, Succulent Karoo and Central Mountain Fynbos. Succulents are especially varied and fascinating with names like Baby's Bottoms, Ostrich Toes and Pig's Ears. Impressive rock formations, San Bushman paintings, over 160 bird species and other high profile animal species including free roaming White Lion enable this special safari experience to stay with you long after you have departed this stunning reserve.
Important information about your Safari experience
Game drives will take 3 - 5 hours depending on how much time is spent at each sighting. It is advisable to bring warm clothes along for the drive even in the hot summer months. Your game ranger will provide ponchos and warm blankets and has a bird book and binoculars. Remember to bring your camera and video camera with you.
All safari options close to Cape Town are in newly established private game reserves and thus cannot be compared to a safari in a more established game viewing area like Kruger National Park which has been around for a hundred or so years. These options fill a very important role in the safari market by offering those persons who have never been on safari and who do not have the time to visit a more established reserve the chance to view Africas wild animals … sometimes for the very first time. Please note that Sanbona is a private game reserve and booking in advance is essential.
Flora in the Little Karoo
The Warmwaterberg Mountain Range comprises the oldest geological formation on Sanbona and is part of the Table Mountain Group, a sedimentary rock that develops into acidic, nutrient poor soils. The Fynbos biome thrives on these acidic soils on the Warmwaterberg. The geology on the rest of the Reserve comprises mudstones and siltstones of the Bokkeveld and Witteberg Formations that form nutrient rich, clay soils derived from shales. The Warmwaterberg bisects the Reserve and creates a rain shadow on Sanbona. The nutrient rich soil in the south of the Reserve which receives a higher rainfall supports the critically endangered Renosterveld vegetation of the Fynbos biome. North of the Warmwaterberg the average rainfall drops dramatically and the vegetation shifts to the more arid vegetation of the Succulent Karoo biome.
Fauna in Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
A priority for the Reserve has always been the re-introduction of species that once naturally roamed through the Little Karoo. Although historical records are used, re-introducing species to their natural range must take into consideration the suitability and extent of the available habitat and the presence of potential competitors. Due to the change in vegetation type, some areas may no longer be suitable for the habitat requirements of certain species. The process of returning the large herbivore and predator species has taken many years and is still ongoing. The Wildlife Department researches the ecology of the animals within their new environments to ensure success and sustainability of the processes.
Riverine Rabbit - Endangered Species
A number of flora and fauna species that occur on Sanbona are of Conservation Concern, as described in the Red List of Threatened Species. One important species demanding attention is the Riverine Rabbit.
Sanbona is one of two protected areas with a population of Riverine Rabbits that provides sufficient space and diversity for ecological processes to function naturally. Sanbona has become a major role player in the conservation of this species in the Little Karoo. The highly elusive Riverine Rabbit is the 13th most endangered mammal in the world. The Wildlife department continually monitors the population and shares information gained with Cape Nature and the Endangered Wildlife Trust. The presence of a healthy Riverine Rabbit population on the Reserve is confirmation of the vital role played by the private sector in biodiversity conservation.
We strive to not only care for our environment of great species diversity and richness, but also to ensure the safety and security of our guests and staff. Our anti-poaching and security unit of well-trained personnel continuously patrol and monitor; and strive to ensure our protection.
Due to the topography of the landscape, roughly 5000 hectares of the mountainous western area of the Reserve are virtually inaccessible and stochastic management approaches are adhered to, ensuring a Wilderness philosophy. These unspoilt areas can only be explored on foot.