After a gruelling 7 hour journey driving a rented car from O.R Tambo to the Kruger, we finally arrived at our destination: The Umkumbe Safari Lodge in the Sabi Sands. It’s not the most pleasant of self-drive journeys, but it certainly is straightforward. The only area that is problematic is White River, where the road markings are as feint as a fading felt-tip pen. If you use the GPS co-ordinates for Umkumbe you’ll be fine. Make sure you have enough cash on you for when you enter Shaws Gate (seriously, don’t try Newington gate) which is the easiest. The conservation/gate fee is R240.
The road sign to the entrance fo Shaws Gate does not actually say “Shaws Gate”. That is because, in South Africa, we can be a bit obscure. It’s in our nature. There is a massive wooden board listing the camps that are accessible via the gate and you simply need to follow the gravel road. It’s one of the most simple reserves to traverse. From this gate you can actually access Lion Sands, Savanna, Singita, Mala Mala and a host of other lodges. I have zero sense of direction, so even for a haphazard driver like me, it was smooth sailing.
The majority of the lodges within the Sabi bear a hefty price tag. This is where Umkumbe Safari Lodge differs. Umkumbe offers afforadble rates for the more budget conscious guest and boasts unparalled game viewing opportunities. Fine, I may not get Foie Gras for lunch but I did notice an elephant, a herd of buffalo and a hyena having a party in the riverbed outside of my rustic room.
Jason, Courteney and Lotje are enthusiastic, young guides who managed to find plenty of wildlife for the duration of my stay. The Sabi region has prolific wildlife, but there seems to be strong presence of hyena, leopard and rhino.We saw rhino mingling with wildebeest, zebra following a tower of giraffe and even a community of dwarf mongoose.
Just your average game drive with the Umkumbe rangers!