Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is considered by many as the premier wildlife destination in the Western Cape.
You’ll find the reserve deep in the heart of the Klein Karoo, along Route 62 – the world’s longest wine route. The drive from Cape Town takes about three hours, and winds you through some of the province’s most amazing countryside, right up to the foot of the majestic Warmwaterberg Mountains.
Sanbona boasts a reserve size of around 54,000 hectares, with guests being treated to five-star accommodation at the Dwyka Tented Lodge, Gondwana Lodge, Tilney Manor and the seasonal Sanbona Explorer Camp.
Dwyka Lodge is luxury safari tent experience that’s hidden away in a horse-shoe riverine area, surrounded by breathtaking rock formations. Gondwana Lodge is designed for family fun and relaxation, with a large swimming pool and kiddies entertainment room. There’s a special Kids on Safari programme aimed at teaching Sanbona’s younger guests about the importance of respecting nature, and even a Boat Safari on the Bellair Dam to keep the little ones busy. Tilney Manor is an original settler manor house, and its six rooms are steeped in Karoo-Cape Georgian history.
A trip to Sanbona will immerse you in an alluring atmosphere of stillness and isolation, surrounding you with the raw beauty of the plains of the Klein Karoo. The emphasis of the reserve, however, remains firmly on conservation and nurturing the land and wildlife. Sanbona’s dedicated conservation team has over a period of time saved the area from overgrazing, preserving the natural beauty of the local flora and fauna for future generations.
Flora and fauna
Around 600 plant species can be found here, and they often flower at different times throughout the year – although the flower season is most prolific between August and September. The world-famous Big 5 can be seen roaming the area, along with various species of springbok, kudu and zebra. Driving around the reserve you’ll also spot small game such as jackals, brown hyenas and duiker.
Stargazing is an ideal activity for families to enjoy while at Sanbona. Telescopes are provided at each lodge, and the isolated locations mean you’ll see deep space features you’ve never viewed before. Stargazing can easily be incorporated into Sanbona’s night drives if that interests you, but it can get a bit cold in the winter months, so bring plenty of warm clothing and wrap up tight! The Karoo night sky offers an enchanting experience for young and old alike.
Sanbona offers a number of Relaxation Retreats, each overlooking ancient rock formations and rolling plains, cradling you in the rejuvenating forces of nature.
There are seven known rock art sites in the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, and these date back more than 3,500 years. They depict the spiritual beliefs and lives of the San people who roamed these plains in years gone by. Animals, like praying mantis and eland, can often be seen depicted on cave walls – the only evidence that remains of this fascinating society.
Sanbona Wildlife Reserve gives one a sense of humbleness, the realisation of the inconsequentialities of life, and a temporary release from the daily stresses of everyday living. A visit here allows you to be at peace, especially for those seeking solitude and introspection.
If we haven’t convinced you yet, it’s almost as if we saved the best for last. Aside from game drives, star gazing and exploration of San history, Sanbona also offers traditional, hearty Karoo cuisine. They have an ever-changing seasonal menu that’s complemented by wines from many of the neighbouring wine farms and estates. You’ll certainly leave here well fed!
Just a three hour drive from Cape Town, a visit to Sanbona feels like a journey into another world – one filled with a Big 5 wilderness experience that’s steeped in history and ideal for families to enjoy and to learn more about this very special part of South Africa.