Sabi Sands, Madikwe or Phinda

South Africa is home to many fantastic game regions, making it challenging to choose between them. Here, we compare Sabi Sands with Madikwe and Phinda Private Reserve

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Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Madikwe Game Reserve, and Phinda Private Game Reserve are all renowned wildlife reserves in South Africa, offering unique safari experiences. Each reserve has its own characteristics, ecosystems, and attractions, but which do you choose.

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Ben Nelson
Sabi Sands
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Madikwe Game Reserve
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Phinda Private Reserve
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Sabi Sands Game Reserve; located adjacent to the famous Kruger National Park

  • An exclusive concession of the world-famous Kruger
  • Exceptional wildlife viewing, including the Big Five
  • Private concessions allow off-road game drives
  • Luxury lodges and high-quality safari experiences

If you want to experience the world-famous Kruger and have an incredible Big 5 viewing, then there is no better place than Sabi Sands, which shares 50 kilometres of unfenced boundary with Kruger National Park. As the boundary is unfenced, wildlife is able to move freely between the two areas.

Madikwe Game Reserve; located in the North-West Province near Johannesburg

  • One of the largest game reserves in South Africa
  • Home to a variety of wildlife, including the Big Five
  • Malaria-free zone, making it a suitable option for families.
  • Diverse landscapes, including open plains and woodlands.

Larger than Sabi Sands and with arguably better-looking, Madikwe has a lot going for it. It is a malaria-free destination too, which has a big appeal for families with young children. When compared to the Sabi Sands, there is also more value to be had and there's some great lodging for honeymooners too.

When to go

The best time to go on safari in South Africa can depend on your preferences and what you want to experience. South Africa has a diverse climate, and different seasons offer unique wildlife-viewing opportunities.

Dry Season (May to October): This is considered the best time for safaris in many parts of South Africa. The vegetation is sparse and animals gather around water sources, making them easier to spot.

Wet Season (November to April): This is the wetter season, with lush green landscapes. While some animals give birth during this time, the vegetation can make wildlife spotting more challenging.

Phinda Private Game Reserve; located in the KwaZulu-Natal near Durban

  • Diverse ecosystems, including grasslands, wetlands, and coastal forests
  • Home to the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhinoceros)
  • Unique activities such as black rhino tracking and marine safaris
  • Ultra-luxurious lodges with stunning views and excellent service

Phinda Private Reserve is totally different from Sabi Sands and Madikwe. It has a diverse ecosystem, including grasslands, wetlands and coastal forests, and is also home to the Big 5. It has four ultra-luxury lodges, which are very good value considering the quality. Phinda stands out with unique activities like black rhino tracking and marine safaris. A big hitter for honeymooners and couples looking for that extra wow factor.

Sabi Sands Lodges
  • Chitwa Chitwa
  • Lions Sands
Madikwe Lodges
  • Tuningi Safari Lodge
  • Madikwe Safari Lodge
Phinda Lodges
  • Rock Lodge
  • Vlei Lodge

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