Sanbona

South Africa, Western Cape, Sanbona Game Reserve from the book Safari in Style, Succulent Karoo. © David Rogers/iAfricaSouth Africa, Western Cape, Sanbona Game Reserve from the book Safari in Style © David Rogers/iAfricaSouth Africa, Western Cape, Sanbona Game Reserve from the book Safari in Style Southern Africa © David Rogers/iAfricaSouth Africa, Western Cape, Sanbona Game Reserve from the book Safari in Style, cheetah. © David Rogers/iAfrica

stamp3Why photographers love Sanbona

  • A great big five safari experience close to Cape Town
  • Fantastic landscapes and fascinating plants
  • Great area for stargazing
  • Variety of activities

How we rate Sanbona 

Wildlife starstarstar to star
Wilderness starstarstarstar
Lodge and dining starstarstarstar
Landscapes starstarstarstar
Vehicles starstarstarstar
Guides starstarstarstar

Sanbona at a glance

Sanbona offers a variety of accommodation:

  • Tilney Manor–3 separate units including 6 suites, each with private veranda, en-suite bathroom, outdoor shower and airconditioning and access to communal swimming pool, lounge, dining facilities and Wi-Fi
  • Gondwana Family Lodge–thatched Karoo homestead with 12 suites, each with air conditioning, heating, private deck and en suite bathroom and access to communal dining boma, pool, lounge, gift boutique, outdoor play area for children and Wi-Fi
  • Dwyka Tented Lodge–classic safari setting at the foot of huge rock formations, 9 tents with en-suite bathrooms, private outdoor shower, deck and jacuzzi and access to communal lounge, relaxation area, fireplace, TV, Wi-Fi, gift boutique, wine cellar and open-air dining boma
  • Explorer Camp–a tented bush camp for adventurous walking safaris, unfenced camp with 3 tents, solar-heated showers, bio box toilets

The concession

The 54,000 hectare Sanbona Wildlife Reserve began reintroducing animals in 2002 and eventually became the first free-roaming big five reserve in the Cape. Besides elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard and rhino, the area also has gemsbok, springbok, hartebeest, eland, kudu, black wildebeest, hippo, cheetah, brown hyena, rare Cape mountain zebra and riverine rabbit and a variety of other species. The reserve covers 3 biomes including succulent Karoo, thicket, and fynbos and protects a significant amount of renosterveld–one of the most threatened vegetation communities in the Cape Floral Kingdom. The vegetation in the area is fascinating, consisting of many species of succulents and fynbos specials. The area also has 7 rock art sites.

The seasons

Summer in the Little Karoo can be extremely hot, whereas spring, autumn and winter are pleasantly cooler. The flowering season usually peaks in early September.

What Sanbona costs

Rates range from R5,000 to R7,500 per person per night depending on season. The Explorer Camp walking safari starts at R3,500 per person per night with a minimum of two nights.

Photographers need to know

Sanbona has been rehabilitated from farm land and animals have been reintroduced. Many animals have tracking collars, which can be great to find them with, but don’t always look the best in photos. It’s a fascinating landscape with interesting plants and flowers and low scrub vegetation, but photographers need to remember that this is not the bushveld.

The good news

Sanbona has rehabilitated former agricultural areas and infrastructure and now conserves endangered plant communities over 54,000 hectares and has reintroduced hippo, elephant, buffalo, cheetah, lion and various antelope to the reserve. They also engage in social responsibility by supporting research and work with local schools to promote environmental education.