Plan your trip
Sanbona is about 43km from Montagu on the R62. Turn left at the ‘Die Vlakte’ sign, then it’s another 7km on a dirt road to the main gate.
WHEN TO GO
Spring is best for flowers, but it can be nippy at night. Summer is dry and can get really hot (into the 40s) but camping is lovely then. Around March is probably the happiest medium, when the days are hot but it’s starting to cool. Winters can be quite wet.
NEED TO KNOW
Take good jackets and warm pants and gloves – the wind-chill factor can be intense. Plus a hat and sunblock, always. You’ll need good walking shoes, and if you’re a keen photographer, this is a chance for both beautiful landscapes and detailed micro photography of plants.
Explorer Tented Camp (summer only) is small, intimate and charming, and offers the privilege of seeing wildlife on foot. It’s also the most reasonably priced option, from R4 101 pp sharing all inclusive. Getaway readers will get a 10% discount (state you’re a reader when booking), valid for this season (October 2017 to April 2018). Sanbona also has more upmarket, allinclusive options: Dwyka Tented Lodge is spectacular and set in front of a sheer cliff. From R5 828 pp. Gondwana Family Lodge has a lovely relaxed atmosphere and, as its name suggests, is great for kids. From R5 411 per adult sharing, children from R2 705. Tinley Manor, built in the early 1900s for the former magistrate, costs the same as Gondwana. sanbona.com
Walking safaris are truly the best thing, and can make a trip to a Big Five reserve so much more exciting. The fact that the environment dictates fewer animals makes it a less threatening space, and you can stop and look at the detail. Ask if it’s possible to see the cheetahs, but note that the guides will not chase after game; they take the approach, correctly, that they will be guided by the wildlife. The boat safari was the bomb for birding. We spent a good while on the water identifying fowl in the reeds surrounding the dam, and as we got to one end, the elephants came over the horizon. Stargazing – this is the Karoo, after all. At Explorer Camp you’ll be under a blanket of stars, and Casper will tell you stories about them.