Journey to Sabi Sands


We decided to rent a car and self drive in Africa! However it did make it challenging to drive on the other side of the road and in a manual car. The drive took about 7 hours from Johannesburg to a private game reserve located below Kruger National Park called Sabi Sands and our hotel Umkumbe.

On the way we took the scenic route to see the Panorama Route, Pilgrim’s Rest, God’s Window, the rainforest and Sabi Falls.  

This was a beautiful hotel right in the middle of wildlife. The hotel included all meals, safaris, and bush walk. Unfortunately for us the bush walk was cancelled due to heavy winds, making the animals unpredictable and unsafe for us.

We attended their 5:30am and 4:30pm safaris. This included our guide Danny, tracker Moses, and a 4x4. Then we go cruising into the forest trying to spot some animals in their natural habitat. There was about 10 other cars out there from various parks as well and they radio in different finds, so all the cars have a chance to see.

They all speak a bush language called Shangan, which is a bush language originating from Tonga that derived it off Zulu. There are 11 official languages and there is 1 language that sounds like clicking that us unofficial (the language in The God’s Must Be Crazy. Here are some words we learned:

  • Male - mono or madaga
  • Female - mfuzi
  • Lion - gala
  • Wildebeest - kanu
  • Zebra - maaaangwa
  • Impala - mala
  • Rhino - umkumbe  
  • Elephant - ndlovu
  • Group - slambi
  • Large - mukulu
  • Hello - kun jan ee?
  • Good - ya pee lah
  • Thank you - ya bong qa
  • Rain in the Air - manigi vula

We saw lots of animals, but the most impressive was the elusive leopard and we saw two of them. We also saw several huge herds or Cape buffalo. Both of these animals are in “The Big Five”: this consists of elephant, leopard, rhino, Cape buffalo, and lion. This name was given to the hardest animals to hunt and it doesn’t mean the rarest to find. Animals we saw:

  • Cape buffalo
  • Leopard
  • Zebra
  • Kudu
  • Impala
  • wildebeest
  • Duiker
  • Vervet Monkey
  • Hyena
  • Bandit Mongoose
  • Shrub Hare
  • Warthog

In Kruger National Park there are 793 different species of birds. We saw so many and it was nice that he named off a few:

  • Marshall eagle (2.5 meter wing span)
  • Lilac breasted roller
  • Tawny Eagle
  • African fish eagle
  • Blue Sterling
  • Zazu hornbill
  • European roller
  • lap wing
  • Shelley’s Franklin

did not anticipate going to Africa for a safari when we packed our luggage. We did not bring binoculars or my camera lens that can zoom 😫.

We ended the evening with a delicious dinner around a fire and slept early for a 5am wake up call. 

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