It’s a good idea to include some extra time in your schedule when traveling – that is always good advice, and traveling in South Africa is no different. The #Gr8SA team from South African Airways Vacations was reminded of that fact when driving the approximate three and a half hours from the Drakensberg Mountains to Durban’s King Shaka International Airport. Thanks to a delay on the highway, we cruised into the Europcar rental car return lot with just enough time to make our next flight to Nelspruit, near Kruger National Park’s southwestern edge. From there, it’s a three-hour transfer to the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, but our team instead took a 20-minute charter flight and flew directly to the Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve’s airstrip – definitely the recommended way to travel!
We arrived at the reserve in time to take an afternoon safari game drive, promptly spotting three lions panting in the heat next to a partially eaten Cape Buffalo. We enjoyed a delicious boma dinner Sabi Sabi’s Bush Lodge followed by an extremely refreshing dip in the private plunge pool of the Mandleve Presidential Suite. It was a very warm day and the water was the perfect temperature to cool off before heading to bed.
The next morning was an exciting one for us, as we completed our “Big Five” by spotting a leopard. Our fantastic guides and trackers got us up close to the female who appeared to be on the hunt. It was an incredible experience to see such a magnificent creature in its natural environment.
After a tasty breakfast back at the lodge, we were picked up by private transfer and headed out along South Africa’s famed Panorama Route. What incredible vistas! Blyde River Canyon is the world’s largest “green” canyon (meaning forested) and the third largest canyon in the world. We stopped to admire the natural beauty at God’s Window and Lisbon Falls. We could have easily spent the entire day (or more!) exploring the area, but we were on our way to the last stop of our journey – the Thornybush Nature Reserve.