Umkumbe Safari Lodge in the Sabi Sands
Umkumbe Safari Lodge is located in the Sabi Sands Reserve, considered by many to be the premier wildlife reserve in South Africa. Located on the banks of the seasonal Sand River and is perfectly situated in one of the best Big Five game viewing destinations in Africa.
Umkumbe Safari Lodge is home to the ‘Big Five’ (elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo), as well as cheetah, wild dog and hundreds of other species of animals, birds and plants indigenous to the area. The phrase “Big Five” was coined by hunters of yesteryear – before the advent of the photographic safari – and refers to the animals considered the most dangerous to hunt. The Lodge offers guests exciting photographic safaris, and there is no better destination to photograph lions and leopards than the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve.
Expert rangers will ensure that your safari experience is truly memorable. Each day begins with an early morning safari game drive. In the late afternoon guests head out on another game drive and return after dark, offering guests exhilarating night game drives as well! Optional bush walks are offered every day after breakfast/brunch.
The Lodge is owner managed and run; ensuring guests enjoy a personal, rustic and real South African safari experience. The lodge consists of six chalets/rooms with most overlook the Sand River. Guests regularly see elephants, hippos, buffalo and antelope grazing in the river bed. Additional facilities include a swimming pool, lounge, bar and dining area and the traditional boma, where guests will be served delicious and hearty South African meals.
The Lodge is easily accessible via either a self drive from Johannesburg, or by flying into the closest airport which is Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) in Nelspruit. The self drive takes 6 hours from Johannesburg on good, safe roads. The flight takes approximately 1 hour. Road transfers from KMIA to Umkumbe can be arranged and take approximately 2 hours.
The focus at the Lodge is of the view of the seasonal Sand River, and for obvious reasons. Almost daily guests are treated to sightings of various animals grazing in the riverbed. The main lodge area consists of a lounge area, swimming pool with decking, as well an open air dining area and bar. All facilities have wonderful views of the riverbed.
In addition, a safari to the Kruger would not be complete without the traditional boma experience. Dinner is served around a roaring fire against the natural night sounds of the bushveld.
The lodge sleeps a maximum of 14 guests in seven chalets/rooms. Six of the chalets have en-suite bathrooms (with showers) and one has an en-suite bathroom with both a shower and bath. Four of the chalets are connected via an inter-leading door, offering families or two groups of friends or couples travelling the perfect accommodation set up. All rooms have twin or double beds and all have mosquito nets. Bedding is comfortable without being ostentatious.
Most of the chalets have a small verandah with camping chairs, and with views of the Sand River.
Umkumbe is home to an abundance of wildlife, including lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo. In addition to the Big Five animals that are regularly sighted include giraffe, zebra, warthog, spotted hyaena, baboon, hippo, impala, kudu, vervet monkey, waterbuck, wildebeest, bushbaby, mongoose, duiker and steenbok. You might also see wild dog, cheetah, honey badger, porcupine, aardvark, civet, caracal and serval. Birds that are regularly seen are vultures, owls, bee-eaters, rollers, eagles, bustards, hornbills, starlings and shrikes.
One of the main aims of going on safari is to go on a game drive. On game drives you are able to get a lot closer to big game. The animals are generally habituated to the vehicle. This means that they are used to the vehicle approaching them and know that it never causes them harm. This enables to you to get within five to 10 metres of the large animals – and safely! All game drives are conducted in open 4 x 4 Landrovers. No roof allows you 360 degree views, perfect for wonderful photographic and video opportunities.
Two game drives are offered per day (included in the price). The morning drive departs at approximately 06h00 and the afternoon drive at 16h00. On the morning drive there is a stop for coffee and on the afternoon drive you will stop for sundowners. After sundowners guests will get to experience a night drive. The night drives allow guests the opportunity to see the nocturnal animals not encountered during the day. Your chances of seeing leopard in particular are a lot higher at night and with a bit of luck you might even encounter the predators such as lion and leopard hunting. During the night drives, your tracker uses a powerful spotlight to search for nocturnal animals. Expect to see a wide variety of animals not normally seen during the day, including leopards, hyenas, aardvarks, bat-eared fox, porcupines, bush babies, bushbucks, mongoose, genet cats and nocturnal birds like owls and nightjars.
For the more energetic, each day after breakfast there is the option of a morning bush walk. The walk is an opportunity to experience the bushveld at close quarters. All walking safaris are led by qualified rangers. They will explain the animal tracks and what animals passed through during the night, in addition to the sophistication of termite mounds and other interesting facets of the bush that go unnoticed on game drives. The chance to walk amongst wildlife allows you to fully immerse yourself in African smells and sounds.
A typical day on safari at Umkumbe Safari Lodge:
- 05h30 Wake-up call
- 06h00 Coffee and a light breakfast
- 06h30 Depart on morning game drive
- 09h00 to 10h00 Return to lodge
- 10h30 Breakfast/Brunch
- 11h00 Optional bushwalk
- 15h00 Tea and a light lunch
- 16h00 Depart on afternoon game drive and night drive
- 19h00 to 20h00 Return to camp and drinks at the bar
- 20h00 Dinner
- 21h00 Drinks, coffee or tea around the camp fire