Sanbona Wildlife Reserve

Western Cape, South Africa

Sanbona Wildlife Reserve

Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is one of the newest private game reserves in South Africa's Western Cape. It is located in the Western Cape, 3 hours' drive from Cape Town, and is home to a number of rare species such as white lion.

Sanbona is a relatively new (2001) private nature reserve in the Klein Karoo, about three hours from Cape Town. It is an extensive reserve that combines well with a tour of South Africa's famous Garden Route.

Comprising an area of almost 150,000 acres, Sanbona has a varied landscape of mountains and plains, populated with big game, indigenous wild flowers and San rock art. The reserve is home to all of the big 5, including black rhino and the exceptionally rare white lion, not to mention cheetah and leopard. It is for sightings of rare creatures such as these that Sanbona is worth visiting; the game within the reserve is relatively sparse, and you won’t see the huge herds of plains game that you can expect to see in the Kruger, but Sanbona does offer a chance to see many rare species in a wild setting. The reserve also houses a raptor breeding centre.

Like most of the private game reserves in the Western Cape, Sanbona stands out as much for its lavish accommodation as it does for its wildlife. Game has been gradually reintroduced to these reserves, but you shouldn’t expect a game-viewing experience to rival the best of South Africa’s National Parks. That said, Sanbona is one of the better reserves in the Western Cape, thanks to the number of unique species it houses and the beauty of its landscape. Its guest lodges are also stunning. On which…


The main lodge at Sanbona, Tilney Manor, is a charming summer house in the Cape Georgian style with wrap around verandahs, high lime-washed ceilings and exposed beams. It originally dates back to 1898, and offers just six guest rooms, ensuring a very private, very intimate atmosphere. The rooms are beautifully-appointed with separate lounge and bedroom areas, cosy fireplaces, private verandahs, and lavish bathrooms with Victorian-style freestanding bathtubs and al fresco showers.

A more recent addition to Sanbona, Dwyka Tented Lodge opened in 2009 and is a traditionally-styled safari camp with a sheltered setting at the base of a high cliff, from where it enjoys wonderful views of the surrounding Karoo landscape. It’s larger than Tilney Manor, with nine tents, but retains its very exclusive atmosphere. The tents at Dwyka are just fabulous, and truly give whole new meaning to the term “bush luxury”, enjoying such extravagances as underfloor heating, private decks and plunge pools. The public areas include a cosy bar with fireplace, spa room, and wine cellar. Don't come to Dwyka expecting a back-to-basics wild bush safari!

Gondwana Lodge has been designed with families in mind, and offers a rather less exclusive atmosphere. It’s still comfortably small, with just twelve rooms, though the rooms are large and designed to accommodate families (several interconnect), meaning Gondwana can feel a bit busier than Dwyka and Tilney Manor. Facilities include a bar, lounge and restaurant, children’s play area and swimming pool. The lodge is fenced, unlike Dwyka, with the safety of young children in mind.

Sanbona Reserve also hosts a small fly camp, the Explorer Camp, which has just three tents and offers an altogether more authentic wild bush experience. The camp is open between October and April. Guests typically stay for two to three nights, usually as an extension to a stay at one of the permanent lodges within the reserve, and explore the wilderness largely on foot.


Depending on choice of lodge:
- Outdoor swimming pool
- Lounge
- Dining room
- Spa
- Children’s play area


Safari game drives
Walking safaris
Fly camping

Child Policy

Children of all ages are welcome at Gondwana and are charged a lower rate. Note that those under the age of 7 cannot take part in game drives, and those under 16 are unable to join walking safaris.

Explorer Camp only accepts guests over the age of 16.