There is a place in the savanna woodland, a very special place we affectionately call our safari  ‘home from home’ that exudes an air of ‘bonhomie’, like no other bush lodge we know of, supported by the most experienced rangers we have had the pleasure of guiding with, who interpret the ‘secrets’ of the African bushveld for clients as the sights and sounds unfold on a guided bush walk or game drive on the wild side…

Such a place is the family-owned and rural community managed Notten’s Bush Camp, situated within the very heart of the most pristine bushveld habitat the Greater Kruger National Park conservancy has on offer for heart stoppingly close wildlife encounters in an open safari vehicle.

Notten’s is situated within the scenic Sabi Sand conservancy of mixed savanna woodland and meandering rivers in the shadow of the towering heights of the rugged Drakensberg escarpment on the western horizon…

Ease of access is by way of a connecting flight from Johannesburg or Cape Town to the Kruger National Park’s well-appointed Skukuza airport. Lodge transfer on landing, following a personalised ‘meet & greet’ and baggage collection service, is overland, safari style, to the bush lodge with adequate stops to appreciate birds and animals encountered on the way… 

Once settled within the thatched ambience of the lodge surrounds and chalet complex, it’s time to unwind and partake of the traditional ‘high tea’ and briefing on bush and safety protocol, before boarding the open safari vehicle and heading out in search of target bird and mammal sightings within this environmentally diverse section of the globally acclaimed Kruger National Park.

Sabi Sand  is very much ‘Big Five’ country -so named after Africa’s most formidable suite of dangerous game – elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard. Moreover, the mammal rich habitat also supports stable populations of spotted hyena, cheetah and the endangered African wild dog in number as well as a delightfully entertaining suite of baboons, monkeys, jackals, mongooses and other such small carnivores.

So much to see and photograph on a game drive or guided interpretative walk, including an impressive line-up of antelope species and striking birds in abundance.

Early morning starts with a wake up call, to make the most of the cooler and most productive hours of the emergent day, followed by coffee and traditional rusks at the lodge, before heading out in an open safari vehicle in search of whatever good fortune holds in store as we scan the woodland around us in eager anticipation…

Of all the local reserves we have visited over many years, this is the only ‘bush lodge’ that has consistently produced outstanding leopard sightings on practically every game drive we have been on. Such an encounter of this highly elusive feline to the thrill and photographic delight of all on board as without doubt a sighting of the ‘spotted sphinx’ is the ultimate safari experience and photographic highlight to look forward to.

Following a mandatory and welcome coffee break on a scenically selected view site, our meandering mid-morning return is enthusiastically and warmly received by the lodge staff in the presence of a sumptuous buffet brunch on the viewing deck overlooking the waterhole.

During the heat of the day it is time for a siesta in the cool comfort  of the chalets or simply lounging around the swimming pool and spa ahead of reconvening for ‘high tea’ as a prelude to the afternoon game drive in search of sightings anew within the network of rutted tracks and game trails criss-crossing the extensive mix of grassland and mixed woodland, interspersed by dry drainage lines and rocky outcrops..

Far from the stereotyped academic text-book approach relating to biographical facts ad nauseum of mammals and birds encountered, our two highly experienced Shangaan guides regularly provide us with entertaining anecdotal accounts and enlightening information on what is progressively unfolding around us.

Such information on a ‘show & tell’ basis covering key environmental aspects within the Sabi Sand  ecosystem, including bushveld trees, strikingly colourful or iconic birds and a variety of mammals, large and small, makes for a truly holistic wildlife experience.

In keeping with established safari tradition at day’s end, we find ourselves parked on a knoll looking west over the bushveld to a colour saturated sunset settling above the distant Drakensberg mountain range, to savour the closing scenes of the day, with a sundowner and snacks in hand and a ‘selfie’ moment as we soak up the ambience of another memorable bushveld experience…

All in all a perfect way to end the day!

Yet the game drive is not over as the infra-red spotlight is connected to illuminate the route back to the lodge, with a suite of nocturnal mammals and birds to look forward to along the way as a unique and very special bonus to daytime sightings experienced and enjoyed during the course of a long yet exciting and memorable day.

As such the drive adds up to an enthralling end to a perfect day with a variety of ‘seldom seen’ nocturnal species on the prowl, such as mongooses, civets, genets, scrub hares and the ever so endearing lesser and greater bush babies all possible as the sandy track leads back to the lodge and the welcoming ‘boma’ fire.

Now is the time to sit around the fire and relax as the highlights of the day are enthusiastically shared in animated discussion against the cacophony of night sounds beyond the flickering firelight !    

Click here to listen to the night sounds of the bushveld …

In summary, we suggest at least 3 nights in Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve. We have written about Nottens Bush Camp here, but there are several other private camps in Sabi Sands to suit individual preferences for comfort and luxury.

Soundscape by

Outstanding hospitality and game viewing in the best area for wildlife sightings in the Greater Kruger conservancy

For game viewing best during the ‘dry’ season from April to September, as the animals are concentrated along the river systems and permanent waterholes. Bird watching is ideal in the rainy season from late November to March.

Mid-range budget.

A commercial flight from Cape Town or Johannesburg to Skukuza Airport and a road transfer from there to Nottens, or fly directly into Sabi Sands in a light aircraft operated by a scheduled air shuttle service. A flight on a small aircraft is part of the safari experience so if your budget stretches to that, it is well worth it!


Start your safari with a stay in Cape Town & surrounds.

Continue to Victoria Falls and follow the itinerary of our classic safari.


Patrick and Marie-Louise Cardwell
PO Box 74, Simons Town 7995 South Africa
Ph/Fax: +27 21 786 1414
Mobile: +27 83 272 2455
Skype: mlcardwell