This quick South African getaway will take you to two of the best safari spots in the country and give you the best chance of spotting Big Five wildlife—perfect if it's your first time in the bush. Based in Kruger National Park and the adjoining Sabi Sands Game Reserve, you'll overnight at 5-star lodges outfitted with decadent amenities as you spend your days racing across the savanna on the lookout for lions, elephants, leopards, and more.


  • Spot Big Five safari animals in Kruger National Park Park and Sabi Sands Reserve
  • Relax and enjoy the amenities in luxury lodges located right in the bush
  • Embark on bush walks through private reserves alongside expert guides

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Kruger National Park, Afternoon Game Drive Kruger National Park
Day 2 Morning Game Drive in Kruger Kruger National Park
Day 3 Transfer to Sabi Sands Game Reserve Sabi Sands Game Reserve
Day 4 Big Five Safari in Sabi Sands Sabi Sands Game Reserve
Day 5 Transfer to Johannesburg, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Kruger National Park, Afternoon Game Drive

Don't waste any time seeking out Big Five animals like lions

Welcome to South Africa! It's likely you've already been in the country for a bit and have seen some of the sights. But even in a country as scenic and ecologically diverse as South Africa, few locales compare to Kruger. Located in eastern South Africa, the nation's first-ever national park (est. 1926) is the premier destination for safaris in this part of the world. At 7,523 square miles (19,485 sq km), it's also one of the largest protected areas in Africa.

You'll arrive in the park via private transfer, likely from the eastern hub of Johannesburg. There are no chain hotels here—you'll be staying right in the park at Rhino Post, a safari lodge sitting on 29,652 acres (12,000 ha) of prime wilderness in southwestern Kruger. It's a comfortable stay in a lodge that blends seamlessly with the surrounding bush, offering modern conveniences like king beds and en suite bathrooms with hot water. But the real draws are the activities on offer, which you'll take advantage of upon arrival.

After dropping off your bags, you'll hop in a 4WD, open-top safari vehicle for an afternoon game drive. It's a great introduction to Kruger, as you'll traverse the savanna in search of the famous Big Five: lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, and rhinos. During this excursion, you'll also spot plenty of other wildlife residents, including zebras, hyenas, hippos, impalas, and many more. At the end of the three-hour adventure, you'll return to the lodge.

Day 2: Morning Game Drive in Kruger

Strike out early in the morning when the wildlife are at their most active

Rise and shine! It's time to head back out into the bush to catch the local wildlife in the early morning when they're at their most active. Leading this memorable wildlife tour will be an expert guide who will search out the most impressive specimens at locales where they congregate in the mornings, like watering holes and riverbanks.

Besides majestic animals like giraffes and elephants, you'll also encounter some of the more shy animals of the bush, including antelope. You're also sure to spot some of Kruger's incredible 517 bird species, including starlings, hornbills, and the occasional ostrich. As you drive, your expert guide will offer info about the wildlife and the local flora, like the iconic baobab tree. You'll return to the lodge at the end of the game drive.

Day 3: Transfer to Sabi Sands Game Reserve

Take a bush walk with your guide to spot wildlife on foot (photo courtesy of Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge)

Leave in the morning on a transfer to Sabi Sands, a game reserve adjacent to Kruger National Park. This 494-square-mile (1,283 sq km) private reserve actually shares an unfenced border with Kruger, allowing for easy migration of animals between the two areas. Like Kruger, the reserve features various ecosystems, including riverine forests, open savannas, and seasonal wetlands. What's different is that Sabi Sands offers more exclusive safari experiences, which you'll take advantage of while here.

Experience this exclusivity upon arrival when you check into Sabi Sabi. This 5-star bush lodge sits on an open plain in the reserve, overlooking a watering hole that draws resident wildlife. The lodge features luxury villas and two inviting swimming pools, but like with other lodges, people come here for the safaris. After checking in to the lodge, you'll embark on an afternoon game drive accompanied by a knowledgeable ranger. Back at the lodge, enjoy an al fresco dinner by the fire as you feast on local comfort foods featuring seasonal ingredients.

Day 4: Big Five Safari in Sabi Sands

Sabi Sands is one of the best places in the country to spot the elusive leopard
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Hop back in an open-top safari vehicle this morning to see the exotic specimens that inhabit Sabi Sands. While you can spot the Big Five here, Sabi Sands is particularly famous for leopard-viewing, as there's an abundance of these animals in the area. Such common sightings are a rarity elsewhere, as leopards often prove elusive in the wild.

After the morning game drive, you'll break for lunch and have some time to relax by the pool. Later, you can embark on an optional bush walk to explore the savanna on foot. Led by a qualified ranger guide, you'll learn how to track animals and identify their footprints, as well as see smaller insects and other creatures that otherwise go unnoticed when in safari vehicles.

Day 5: Transfer to Johannesburg, Depart

The sun sets over Kruger National Park 
Five game drives/bush walks in five days is a pretty good average. No doubt you've snapped plenty of photos of famous Big Five animals and other exotic wildlife to remember your time in South Africa. After an early breakfast at the lodge, you'll pack up and make the four-hour transfer back to Johannesburg in time to catch your flight home or continue your onward adventures. Safe travels!

More Great South Africa Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to South Africa? Check out these other South Africa itineraries, explore more ways to spend five days in South Africa on safari, and learn about the best time to visit South Africa.


Map of South African Safari Highlights: Kruger & Sabi Sands - 5 Days
Map of South African Safari Highlights: Kruger & Sabi Sands - 5 Days