Into the wild, the plane touching down in the Sabi Sands as elephants watch on. Gaze towards the horizon and giraffe poke their heads above the trees. Transferring to the lodge, you spot springbok jumping around, their fearful antics suggesting that a predator is nearby. Turn a corner and the pride sits serenely, the yawn of a lioness indicating that now isn't the time for a hunt. Sabi Sands is a reserve that borders Kruger National Park, offering all the animals of its larger neighbor in a secluded area. It's an ideal safari starting point, filled with a diversity and abundance that can be seen on short game drives. The transfer to the lodge is just the start, a great myriad of four-legged mammals discovered before you've even checked in.
Relax and take lunch at the lodge, continuing the game viewing from a private verandah overlooking the Sand River. Then an afternoon game drive traverses the famed haven of Africa's big five. On the first day, there's often an anticipation of seeing the most famous. Sabi Sands excels on this point. A pair of rhino gracefully wanders past the vehicle, entertaining with their serene stares. Buffalos block the trail, rumbustious beasts that huff noisily. An elephant pride drifts across the landscape, the baby jumping around as it chases a warthog. Now a lion pride, chiefs of their realm, lounging just a couple of meters from the vehicle. Returning to the lodge, there's a flicker in the trees, a tail wiggling around. Look closer. It's a leopard, as content as could be, sleeping with one eye open. While a safari never guarantees you can see certain animals, Sabi Sands always has the abundance to satisfy.