Lion Sands River Lodge

distinctive Camp | Sabi Sand Reserve, South Africa

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River Lodge is the soul of Lion Sands Private Game Reserve, built on the banks of the Sabie River beneath trees that are more than 800 years old. Facing due east, the lodge catches the sun as it rises over adjacent Kruger National Park. In 2010 the lodge underwent a multi-million-dollar refurbishment, tripling the size of the rooms and updating them with exquisite furnishings and amenities.

Photo of Lauren Deeley

Our Expert Says

River Lodge offers an amazing value in Sabi Sand. My favorite feature is the lounge that overlooks the river. During the afternoon siesta, come down to the comfortable deck and grab a couch or lounge chair to watch the wildlife. The combination of friendly staff and great wildlife viewing make this camp a true favorite.

– Lauren Deeley

Photo: The Camp

The Camp

Location: Sabi Sand, South Africa
Number of Rooms: 20

On the banks of the Sabie River, River Lodge offers a sumptuous respite from the Lowveld heat, shaded by ancient trees and protective thatch. Completely remodeled to exceptionally high standards in 2010, the 20 luxurious bedrooms feature contemporary décor in tranquil shades of cream and beige. All are air-conditioned with ceiling fans. En suite bathrooms have sleek white double vanity basins and stand-alone bathtubs with a view. Private viewing decks offer a quick immersion in nature. Three classes of rooms are offered: 12 luxury and 6 superior luxury rooms, as well as 2 river suites. Rooms are linked to the common areas by raised wooden walkways. River Lodge offers guests a magnificent lounge with soaring thatched ceiling, dramatic chandelier, fireplace and bar, an outdoor safari lounge, both indoor and outdoor dining areas, a curio shop, two swimming pools (heated in winter), wooden viewing decks, and a secluded bird hide. The tree house sleep-outs on the reserve offer a magical night under the stars.

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Photo: Facilities & Amenities

Facilities & Amenities

  • En suite bathroom with tub and shower
  • Shampoo, soap and lotion
  • Hair dryer
  • Air conditioning
  • Room fan
  • Mini bar
  • Tea/coffee in room
  • 220v charging outlets in room
  • In-room safe
  • Two central pools
  • Treehouse star beds (extra cost)
  • Spa (extra cost)
  • Fitness center
  • Wi-Fi in main area
  • Laundry (extra cost)
  • Local drinks included (house alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks)
  • Credit cards accepted (Visa, MasterCard, Diners, American Express)
  • Cellular coverage is intermittent

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Photo: Wildlife Viewing & Activities

Wildlife Viewing & Activities

Established in 1933, Lion Sands Private Game Reserve has long protected the amazing wildlife of the Sabi Sand region bordering Kruger National Park. Animals traverse freely between the reserve and the park across a diverse range of habitats. Visitors are likely to see the famous Big Five—lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant—as well as cheetah, wild dog, plenty of hoofed animals, and many of the 500+ bird species that reside here. In addition to traditional wildlife drives in open Land Rovers, bush walks led by expert guides also offer a chance to learn about tracking animals and the medicinal uses of plants. Waterhole hides get you close to wildlife without being seen. Special hippo tours observe these animals in their natural environs in the Sabie River, where crocodile are also frequently spotted. Astronomy talks beneath the stars bring the African night sky alive. Bush breakfasts and dinners cooled over an open fire can also be arranged.

The Sabi Sand is known for great leopard viewing, healthy rhino populations and the rest of the Big Five, making it a great wildlife destination for all levels of safari experience. The below chart helps to illustrate major wildlife sightings often experienced here. Other typical sightings may include warthogs, baboons and a number of other mammals, birds and reptiles. Exact sightings will depend on weather and wildlife movements.

Country Park/Reserve
Black Rhino
Greater Kudu
Sable Antelope
White Rhino
Wild Dog
South Africa Sabi Sand Reserve

Usually viewed
Frequently viewed
Occasionally viewed
Sporadically viewed
Rarely to never viewed

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Month Max Min Rainfall
January 84° F 68° F 3.86 in
28° C 20° C 98 mm
February 88° F 70° F 6.54 in
31° C 21° C 166 mm
March 88° F 68° F 5.24 in
31° C 20° C 133 mm
April 84° F 61° F 1.85 in
28° C 16° C 47 mm
May 81° F 50° F 0.43 in
27° C 10° C 11 mm
June 81° F 43° F 0.12 in
27° C 6° C 3 mm
July 77° F 43° F 0.16 in
25° C 6° C 4 mm
August 82° F 48° F 0.16 in
27° C 8° C 4 mm
September 82° F 57° F 0.55 in
27° C 13° C 14 mm
October 81° F 61° F 1.77 in
27° C 16° C 45 mm
November 84° F 66° F 6.61 in
28° C 18° C 168 mm
December 84° F 63° F 9.41 in
28° C 17° C 239 mm

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Photo: Conservation


The passion to deliver a world-class luxury safari experience is equaled by the lodge owner’s complete commitment to preserving this pristine bushveld and ensuring that the benefits of safari tourism are shared with local communities. Lion Sands is the only private reserve in South Africa to have its own on-site ecologist. Lion Sands’ involvement with the local Henna Preschool has provided the school with new facilities, books, learning materials and healthy meals for the children. Lion Sands invites the children on an annual day excursion to the lodge where they participate in a morning wildlife drive and enjoy lunch prepared by the lodge. This opportunity exposes local children to the world beyond the boundaries of their village, providing wildlife encounters many have never experienced. Lion Sands also supports the local Huntington HIV clinic that is managed by a former employee of Lion Sands. Guests may visit the school and HIV program during their visit.

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