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Lion Sands River Lodge

Sabi Sands, Kruger / South Africa

With one of the highest densities of wildlife per square hectare, the Lion Sands Game Reserve has gathered a reputation as one of the finest safari areas in the entirety of Africa. Situated at the heart of this vibrant reserve, the River Lodge has become custom to big game spots – especially if you go looking. Home to 20 luxury thatched bedrooms, this secluded resort features two swimming pools, a gym and spa centre, in addition to two outdoor decks to best soak in this unforgettable region of South Africa.


What to love

  • Each of the River Lodge’s luxury suites has a private wooden viewing deck overlooking the adjacent Sabie River and out across the Lion Sands Game Reserve.
  • African buffalo, zebra, cheetahs, lions and giraffes make up part of the big game checklist of wildlife that can be found on a private Land Rover safari. 
  • Each of River Lodge’s luxury suites feature crisp, minimalist interiors; African artwork adorned walls and a lavish bathroom suite with deep-set tub – all underneath an impressive thatched roof.
  • The family-run resort has a relaxed mantra amongst all of its staff – particularly its kitchen staff, who regularly organise bush breakfasts and dinner for all guests and visitors.

What to know

  • River Lodge’s spa resort specialises in the practice of Africology – organic treatments created from locally sourced produce. Enjoy a herbal oil massage, a unique aromatherapy blend or a detoxifying pedicure.
  • The Lion Sands Game Reserve has won a number of prestigious holiday resort awards, with recent accolades including - #11 of Top 100 hotels and resorts in the world & #3 of Top 25 resorts and safari camps in Africa in the Conde Nast Readers Choice Awards 2013.
  • The Lion Sands Game Reserve is approximately 110 kilometres away from Kruger Mpumulanga International Airport, with transfers by car or taxi taking around two hours.


Set alongside the quiet rushing waters of the Sabie River, the Lion Sands River Lodge sits at the heart of Lion Sands Game Reserve – one of South Africa’s most exciting safari reserves, with an extraordinarily high density of wildlife, which includes the ‘big five’ safari game. Located to the northwest of the country, not far from the Skukuza rest camp, the resort overlooks the world-famous Kruger National Park.

With the untouched safari park as their back garden, each of the River Lodge’s 20 luxury suites are designed with a wooden decked terrace, so you can enjoy an afternoon tea in the company of the Sabie River’s rushing waters or spotting wildlife in the offing. Each suite has been decorated with an interior inspired by the game reserve – with the minimalist walls broken by African artwork. Each spacious suite also has a luxury en-suite bathroom complete with deep-set tub, which can also lead out onto the outdoor terrace.

Having spent the day in search of big game wildlife by Land Rover or exploring the meandering woodland pathways on foot, the resort has a number of leisure pursuits designed to help guests unwind. The on-site spa resort specialises in popular Africology treatments – created using ingredients only available in the local area. Guests can stop by for an indulgent detox manicure, a balancing scalp and leg ritual, or perhaps a session of Africology Shea aromatherapy. The resort also has a state-of-the-art gymnasium complete with free weights, cardio and yoga equipment, for when you feel in need of some physical rejuvenation.

When to travel

Visitors can enjoy Kruger National Park and wildlife viewing year round, however the experience does change depending on the season. In the summer months (October to March), it gets very hot. The rains mean that the scenery is quite spectacular but the foliage is more dense, water is more abundant and wildlife can be tricker to see. However there are lots of beautiful migratory birds during the summer months. The daytime temperature in the winter months (May to September) are ideal, however it does get a little chilly at night and in the early morning.


Lions Sands River Lodge is at the heart of the Lion Sands Private Game Reserve on the banks of the Sabie River, overlooking Kruger National Park. Lions Sands reserve is at the southern end of the vast Sabi Sands Reserve 520km (or 5 hours) northeast of Johannesburg, close to the Mozambique border.

It takes approximately 5 to 6 hours to  drive from Johannesburg to the lodge or one hour 45 minutes from Kruger Mpumalanga Airport. Alternatively the quickest option is to fly to nearby Skukuza Airport. 



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Lion Sands River Lodge accepts children aged 10 years and older in the accommodation and on safari. Children aged 10-15 are charged 50% of the adult rate.

Interconnecting suites are available on request.


Activities included free of charge at the Lion Sands River Lodge include astronomy, game drives, guided walks, hippo tours, viewings from the hide and wildlife lectures. Additional activities available for a charge include balloon flights over the Sabie River Valley, clay pigeon shooting, private game drives, golf, helicopter flights, cultural village experiences and nights in the Chalkey Tree House.

Sudwala Caves: The Sudwala Caves are the oldest known caves in the world. Tours are available and take approximately 30 minutes – where you’ll be shown a number of different rock formations including stalagmites, fossils and flow stones.

Dullstroom Bird Of Prey And Rehabilitation Centre: This centre specialises in rehabilitating injured birds of prey and allows for public visitations that include flying demonstrations, handling and photograph opportunities.

Elephant Sanctuary: This elephant sanctuary, located in Hazyview, is run by a group of knowledgeable trainers and keepers who host a number of tours and information guides for those who visit.