Sanbona Wildlife Reserve: An Authentic Safari Experience near Cape Town

A wildlife paradise with spectacular ancient rock art ideal for a winter getaway.

A mere three or so hours from Cape Town lies Sanbona Wildlife Reserve – a secluded sanctuary where wildlife roam free in over 58 000 hectares of sacred wilderness. Found below the purple folds of the Warmwaterberg Mountains, this malaria-free wildlife reserve in the heart of the Little Karoo is the Western Cape’s answer to a luxe safari experience. Big Five-spotting, wide-open savannahs, indigenous flora, birdlife and tranquillity, its off-the-radar setting provides the type of privacy and discretion that makes the rest of the world seem irrelevant.

Here are six reasons to book your winter getaway at Sanbona:

1. The Route 62 road trip

Sanbona Winter Destination Route 62 Road Trip

Sanbona is just a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Cape Town. We recommend taking the road less travelled along Route 62, where the scenic journey is all part of the experience. The longest wine route in the world, winding through charming country towns like Robertson and Montagu, it’s worth allowing some extra travel time to explore farmstalls, antique shops and wine cellars, and stop off for breakfast or lunch at a quirky roadside restaurant.

2. The Big (+ Little) 5

Sanbona Winter Destination Wildlife

Elephant, leopard, rhino, buffalo and lion all call the wild Karoo plains of Sanbona home. As do some lesser-known species that aren’t exactly larger than life, but are extremely special in their own right! Keep your eyes peeled for the Little 5, namely the elephant shrew, buffalo weaver bird, rhinoceros beetle, leopard tortoise and antlion. Whether you’re here to witness the ground-rumbling roar of the king of the jungle, or you’re equally content being ensconced in endless nature surrounded by creatures great and small, Sanbona has it all.

3. Endless nature

While the two daily game drives are the main event, Sanbona promises even more than game viewing. Immerse yourself in the tranquillity and peace of the Little Karoo, filling your days with birdwatching, nature walks, and guided stargazing excursions, as well as visits to ancient rock-art sites within the reserve.

The ancient rock art dates back 3 500 years, and depicts the lives, customs and beliefs of the San and Khoikhoi tribes who lived here, with striking depictions of animals, people and beings in earth pigments. There are seven recorded viewing sites within Sanbona – all of which offer a fascinating and unforgettable glimpse into an almost-forgotten national heritage.

4. The height of luxury

Sanbona Winter Destination Luxury Accommodation
Sanbona Winter Destination Tinley Manor Room
Sanbona Winter Destination Guest Pool

Three stylish lodges, sensitively positioned within the natural landscape, offer a choice of accommodation. Gondwana Family Lodge for a five-star getaway that keeps both kids and adults happy, Tilney Manor for serene elegance and tranquillity, and the opulent romance of Dwyka Tented Lodge with a backdrop of striking rock formations. Or channel your sense of adventure with the Explorer Camp: a two-day walking safari with tented accommodation, designed for those seeking an active escape into nature.

In between times indulge yourself at the spa, where the Relaxation Retreat menu offers a range of therapies and treatments, including a steam room where guests can unwind after an action-packed day on safari.

5.  Kids on safari

Sanbona Winter Destination Kids Activities

With a child-friendly swimming pool and several play areas, the farmhouse-style Gondwana Lodge is perfect for young eco-warriors. The Kids on Safari programme is designed for hours of exploration and fun, with treasure hunts, mini day and night bush walks, insect catching and frogging, and a visit to the Skull Garden.

6. Conservation comes first

Sanbona Winter Destination Sanbona Guest Activities

As a nonprofit company, all funds generated by tourism are allocated to conservation projects and the expansion of protected areas. The reserve is home to more than 600 types of flora spread over its 58 000 hectares, providing sufficient space and ecological diversity for the survival (and conservation) of the highly elusive riverine rabbit, the 13th most endangered mammal in the world.

Sanbona Winter Destination Outdoor View

With all of this and more, it’s no wonder Sanbona is considered the Cape’s premier wildlife destination.

Distance from CT 3.5 hours
Child friendly? Yes (only at Gondwana Family Lodge)
Pet friendly? No
Wifi? Yes, free
Where to find it Route 62, between Montagu and Barrydale

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The Inside Guide has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, we do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, cost, time, and location.

Time of publication: 24 May 2022

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10 Responses to “Sanbona Wildlife Reserve: An Authentic Safari Experience near Cape Town”

  1. Chris de Kock

    Pensioners can only dream

  2. Mariana Vermeulen

    This is a dream come true break away

  3. Paula xenopoulos

    Please give me prices for June

  4. Roy Hamlyn

    Looking for 3 day getaway in early January. Possibly 8 – 10 people including 2 children.

  5. Lindsey Dallas Orr

    Has been on the bucket list for too long would love to visit Sanbona

  6. Tsholofelo Mapulane

    checking availability for the 12 to 15 november for a family of 4

  7. Basil


  8. yvette

    Hi, Please quote for a wedding for +- 50guest for April next year. 24 April 2022 we would like to book in saturday the 23rd

  9. Nonjabulo