Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is a place that, once you’ve been fortunate enough to visit, you’re torn between sharing it with the world and hushing it up – because it is just so very special.
It’s a far cry from, say, Kruger’s bustling game experience. Here, outside Montagu on the edge of the Klein Karoo, a good hour’s drive from the tar road (and three hours from Cape Town), it’s all about vast open spaces, koppies, valleys and mountains in the distance. At 54 000 ha, the landscape changes constantly: fynbos, succulent Karoo, thicket, quartz vygieveld and Montagu shale renosterveld create a diverse habitat for plants and animals.
And the animal Sanbona is perhaps best known for, is its white lions. These animals have been reintroduced to the area as part of their conservation programme. While Sanbona does have the big five, a visit here is not about ticking animal sightings off a list. It’s about experiencing all that open space, walking with your ranger to see a lion kill close up, driving past fascinating plants that the San used as medicine, and seeing the stars at night in their bright glory.
Visitors can choose to stay in one of three accommodation styles: Tilney Manor is all old-world charm; Gondwana is modern comfort for families (with playground and babysitters in the mix); while Dwyke Tented Lodge is the most secluded and exclusive of all – perfect for lovebirds and those seeking contemporary safari style (the outdoor private plunge pools are fabulous).
Morning game drives with coffee and rusks are perfect for early birds, while sundowners by the dam in the afternoons are pure bliss. At night everyone gathers to share stories of game sightings around the fireplace before tucking in to delicious fare. When you need some different relaxation options, the on-site spas provide blissful treatments or simply lazing by the pool watching animals in the near distance becomes a brand new experience.
Whatever it is you choose to do, you’ll be sure to yearn to return to Sanbona very soon.
Where Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is located 43 km outside Montagu, on the scenic R62. It’s around three hours’ drive from Cape Town or 270 km away.
Contact 041 509 3000 (reservations), [email protected], www.sanbona.com
Photography Jade Cooke, Sanbona