Trip report: The 2012 Ultimate Big 5 Group Safari – part 2

I get asked a lot by people wanting to come on safari about the difference between the Kruger National Park (KNP) and Sabi Sands. For the uninformed, Sabi Sands is a private reserve that adjoins the greater KNP. It is named after the two rivers that run through and along one of its borders, namely the Sand River and the Sabie River. The reserve is populated by dozens of privately owned lodges and camps, each of which has their own boundaries. Some of the camps have traversing rights on each other’s properties, but for the most part you’re unlikely to encounter much traffic from neighbouring private reserves when you’re there. There are no fences between KNP and Sabi Sands, so animals are free to roam between the two parks, generally oblivious to the fact that we humans regard these as two different places. The total size of the Sabi Sands reserve is approximately 65,000 hectares, which put into perspective is just shy of 3% of the total size of the Kruger National Park, or if you prefer to put it into human habitat perspective, a shade over half the size of New York City’s 5 boroughs combined. The Kruger Park itself is about the size of Hawaii, or close to the size of Switzerland if, like me, you have no idea of how big Hawaii actually is. One of the interesting statistics about the Sabi Sands is that it has the highest density of leopards to be found anywhere else in Africa, and ergo the world, for that matter. They practically fall out of trees here. On our first safari there in 2010 we saw leopards more often than we saw lions. It was somewhat different this last time around, mainly because the Southern Pride of lions has established the area of Sabi Sabi as its main hunting territory. That pride is now over 20 strong and if you follow Richard DeGouveia’s (RangerRich) and Ben Coley’s blog you’ll be able to read a lot more about how this pride is changing over the years. There are constantly territorial battles being fought between themselves and other male lions that want to move into the area. Fascinating stuff, to which we were witness during our week long stay there at the beginning of October. […]