We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Sabi Sand via Malelane Gate - Possible?

Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
78 posts
2 reviews
Save Topic
Sabi Sand via Malelane Gate - Possible?

We're in the early planning stages for April next year and our intention is to stay a few nights at either Dulini, Savanna or Lion Sands. I thought it might be a good plan to drive from Joburg to Nelspruit one afternoon, stay a night there and then continue on the next morning to our game reserve lodge so that we would arrive early enough to join the afternoon animal spotting drive.

My query is whether it is feasible / sensible / possible for us to expand the experience by driving east from Nelspruit and enter Kruger via the Malelane Gate, then head north via H3 and access our chosen lodge from the eastern side rather than via the Newington or Kruger Gates? Are there access roads that would make this possible or can we only access Sabi Sand from the western side?

Naracoorte
Level Contributor
2,861 posts
16 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Sabi Sand via Malelane Gate - Possible?

There is no direct access to Sabi Sands from anywhere inside Kruger National Park.

Gold Coast...
Destination Expert
for Kruger National Park
Level Contributor
5,278 posts
24 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Sabi Sand via Malelane Gate - Possible?

Hi there Vetrade

[from an ex Melbournian]

For the lodges you are considering you must leave Kruger and enter Sabi Sand at either Newington or Shaws Gate. I would most definitely suggest you enter at Shaws Gate, we regularly leave Kruger at Paul Kruger Gate and enter Sabi Sand here, it is very close. At the gate you will see the signs for Lion Sands or if you are going to either of the other lodges you will head north following the perimeter fence and follow the signposts. Much easier than negotiating the towns outside Newington gate.

I love your idea to expand your experience and most certainly the best way to do that would be by spending some time driving in Kruger Park, in fact IMHO it is a shame to travel so far and only see a tiny tiny portion of the park. Of course time is a factor here too.

As for seeing Kruger Park itself as you are in the early planning stages I would consider spending a couple of days in the park before you go to Sabi Sand. It will provide you with a completely different experience to the private reserves. You get to explore the park in your own time, all day if you want to, with all flexibility that it brings, unlike the more regimented style of the private lodges.

There are lots of wonderful camps to stay at in the park, some with rooms overlooking waterholes and dams, some with spectacular views, and all located in prime wildlife viewing areas. You can eat in camp restaurants or self cater, or a mix of both as we do.

Then follow up with a few days of luxury in an all inclusive lodge like the three you are looking at, where you will get taken out in game vehicles to search for wildlife and hopefully get some amazing and close up experiences.

Bu the way all lodges you are looking will be wonderful, and all have only six to a vehicle [although I think only certain lodges in LS]. This is very important to us, it means you always get a whole row to yourself and do not have to share your seat with a stranger.

We are actually regulars to Dulini, where we visit for a few days after spending weeks on a self drive safari in Kruger Park. I would most definitely recommend a stay there, it is a beautiful stunning lodge, quiet and intimate with only twelve guests in six rooms, the people and food are truly amazing and best of all the area is teeming with big cats! Just remember you will not see the huge numbers of animals and plains game here though, due to the smaller sizes of the private lodges compared with Kruger itself. Savannah and Dulini share traversing rights so game viewing will be similar.

Are you travelling SAA or Qantas ? We find the stopover in Perth terribly tiring which is not ideal when you arrive and want to drive out. Now we go via Sydney and arrive late at night our time, but afternoon local time, which works perfectly to arrive and have a refreshing sleep and breakfast at the airport before picking up our car very early the next morning, usually between four and five am thanks to the time difference. Last trip we were at Nelspruit by 8am and in the park shortly after.

Just some more thoughts for you.

Johannesburg, South...
Level Contributor
703 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: Sabi Sand via Malelane Gate - Possible?

Hi Vetrade,

Just to add my opinion to this. I really agree with thesandmans. Instead of spending the night in Nelspruit, rather head directly for Kruger and spend a few nights in Kruger before heading to the Sabi Sands. Like thesandmans said the flight from Sydney will arrive late afternoon. You can stay at a hotel at or near the airport, and drive to Kruger early the next morning. You should make it to Kruger by midday or so, which will give you half the day in Kruger. If you stay at one of the southern central camps like Lower Sabie, Skukuza, Pretoriuskop, Crocodile Bridge or even a bit higher like Satara, you should have more than enough time to make into Shaws or Newington Gates early enough to make the afternoon drive, which is normally about 4pm at that time of the year.

IMO, this is definitely something to consider.

Regards.

Brett | Owner | Safaris For Me Tours & Safaris | South Africa

Edited: 28 March 2014, 11:03
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
78 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Sabi Sand via Malelane Gate - Possible?

Thanks for those replies. I'm gradually organising my thoughts and making sense of it all and Dulini has now been placed at the top of our list after your comments, Thesandmans!

Can I pick your brain some more?

I have noticed that a lot of pictures of lodges show that the surrounds have quite thick scrub and you alluded to the fact that we might see the herds of plains animals better in Kruger NP itself. Are there any particular areas of southern Kruger you could recommend for this where the vegetation is quite sparse? What entry gate / route would you recommend within Kruger?

We'll be flying to SA as part of a OneWorld round-the-world ticket so that means flying Qantas from Sydney to Joburg (SAA isn't a OW airline). We intend to spend a few days in Joburg before driving to Kruger. Given your comment that you prefer an early drive to Kruger what are your thoughts regarding a night at Nelspruit? Would it be better to just drive straight on in to stay in Kruger ?

Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
78 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Sabi Sand via Malelane Gate - Possible?

Thanks Brett, you posted your reply as I was drafting mine and I didn't notice that you'd read my mind and answered my questions before I even got to post them!

Johannesburg, South...
Level Contributor
703 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: Sabi Sand via Malelane Gate - Possible?

Hi again Vetrade,

Pleasure. That's no problem. Its good that you posted it though, because thesandmans and some of the other TA's will have good advice for you, and there are some things that I didn't touch on i.e. areas of KNP where the bush is more open/plains etc. Also depending on which camp you are in, there are a number of gates that you could access the KNP. Many roads lead to Rome. There will be certain gates however that one wouldn't use to access the park because of proximity to the camp that you are booked in. For Pretoriuskop you could access the KNP via Malalane Gate / Paul Kruger or Phabeni. For Skukuza the easiest gates would be Paul Kruger / Phabeni but you could also use Croc Bridge Gate or Malalane Gate, and the similarly with Crocodile Bridge / Satara and the other camps. It all depends on how much time you have to get to camp, and I guess how much time you want to spend driving before you reach the camp....very subjective.

Every post is very subjective based on peoples personal experiences and knowledge, so getting other opinions and info is always valuable.

I hope this clarifies things a b it more.

Regards.

Brett | Owner | Safaris For Me Tours & Safaris | South Africa

Gold Coast...
Destination Expert
for Kruger National Park
Level Contributor
5,278 posts
24 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Sabi Sand via Malelane Gate - Possible?

Much of the thick scrub you refer is seen throughout Kruger and can be seen in many photos. There is no avoiding this, no matter what time of the year you visit you will have bushes and trees to see around, but the brush and grasses are particularly long and prevalent during the summer months [wet season[, hence the popularity of visiting in the winter, during the dry season when the grasses are low or non existent, and animals congregate more around the waterholes.

The main park itself is some 20000 square kilometers, the size of some countries. It has incredible bio diversity and due to its size and variety of ecosystems and landscapes, it is able to support the most amazing variety of wildlife, birds, mammals and plantlife.

The south of the park yes does have a more bushy feel, and its simply differing landscapes, and not all over. There is still variety everywhere, some just dominate. As you drive north towards Satara you will notice the land opens up a bit more, as there is more open savannah here. As you drive even further north the landscape is predominantly Mopani Veld, as that is the dominant species there, further south it is thornveld for the same reason.

So what I was referring to is more the quantity of wildlife, there are hundreds of thousands of animals, birds, reptiles and more to see in the park itself. Obviously there will be a much larger quantity of wildlife in two million hectares than less than fifty thousand, much less in some case. Some reserves are only around 5000.

If you do decide to visit the south I would not worry too much about all this, your viewing will be more affected by where you stay and what time of year you visit. Having said all that it does always come down to luck on the day, there may be a road that has a whole heap of sightings one day, and none the next. What you see is just luck I am afraid, but there is always something to enjoy. So with limited time then yes stick to the south, but if possible a visit to the central area around Satara [my favourite camp] is always worthwhile.

What entry gate you use will be determined once you make your plans.

As I said above we always enter at Malelane Gate because naturally it's the best for us when coming direct from JHB. If you spend a few days there before you head to Kruger then I cannot see why you would need to stop anywhere overnight on the way out. Just work out how long you want in JHB then head straight out the day you leave. Certainly the earlier you leave the better, as you stop a couple of times on the way for food, petrol, supplies, stretch the legs and so on. Plus once you get through the gate you speed slows way down to around 20/30 klms per hour, so it's a slow drive to camp.

I guess you have already looked at the Dulini reviews, which will give you an idea how good it is. If you do decide to stay there, just contact them well in advance, being a small and popular lodge they book up early.

Tempe, Arizona
Destination Expert
for South Africa, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Level Contributor
9,040 posts
58 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Sabi Sand via Malelane Gate - Possible?

I just drove down through Kruger last month from Orpen Gate - almost all the way to Malelane Gate.. My destination that day was Lukimbi Lodge.. a private lodge in its own concession a few miles north of Malelane. If the OP is thinking about simply transiting through Kruger to reach Sabi Sand, I say yes.. Driving peacefully through the Park at a slow speed is sooo relaxing - and an indescribable contrast to the R40, R536, etc. that you would otherwise take. It will take longer than you might expect.. but worth it. As much as 3 hours, Malelane to Skukuza.

Exit at Skukuza.. and Shaw's Gate into Sabi Sand is just a short distance from there. You can reach all of the private reserves in Sabi Sand from there except the ones in the north and northeast.

PS - Consider Lukimbi for a stop, sometime.

Dave Patterson - Owner - TheAfricaSafari

Edited: 28 March 2014, 13:13
9. Re: Sabi Sand via Malelane Gate - Possible?

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 30 March 2015, 05:17