Sanbona Wildlife Reserve - 3 hour Excursion
Sanbona Wildlife Reserve spans a mammoth 54,000 hectares, making it the largest privately owned reserve in the Western Cape and a beacon of conservation within the region. The arid, semi-desert environment has fostered incredible biodiversity – from plant species, through mammals, birds, reptiles and insects – as they have amazingly adapted to the demanding climate and carved an ecological niche in this haunting landscape.
Sanbona was formed in the late 1990s from a collection of farms with the land being rehabilitated and restored to its natural condition. Animal species that once roamed the region were reintroduced, such as Kudu, Zebra, Red Hartebeest and the majestic Eland to larger species such as Elephant, Lion, Hippopotamus and Rhinoceros. Sanbona is a Big Five Reserve, but with its Bushmen rock art, breathtaking vistas and unique, haunting landscapes, it offers so much more. Sanbona is home to three lodges, the colonial-style Tilney Manor, the earthy Gondwana and the stunning tented camp of Dwyka, each offering supreme luxury in the heart of the bush - click here for more information.
NB: This cycle takes place mainly in the southern section of the reserve, where there are no predators and big game, so your safety is assured. A ranger is with you every step of the way and there is a back-up vehicle on standby. It is a unique wildlife experience, exclusive to Bike & Saddle and Mantis.
Guests congregate at Tilney Manor, as the sun begins to rise in spectacular fashion. After a short briefing and safety check, an expert ranger leads the the descent into the valley, with the Warmwaterberg peaks towering above. The various vegetation types are noticeable and your ranger will stop to explain such features and answer any questions you may have.
As one climbs out of the dry riverbeds, the sight of the impressive Leopard Gorge cutting its way through the Warmwatersberg takes one's breath away, a sanctuary for the Cape Leopards that thrive in this region. The vegetation soon begins to change as Renosterveld becomes dominant - this is one of the richest ecosystems in the world with extraordinary bulb diversity.
Before the climb to the Staging Post, we pass three dams in the basin of the valley, a great opportunity to spot wildlife as the scarce water attracts game such as Gemsbok, Duiker, Steenbok, Ostrich, Zebra and Springbok. Once we reach the Staging Post, the vistas are truly spectacular. The sense of space and scale of the Karoo is best seen from these heights and the peaks of the Langeberg Mountain range melt away into the horizon to the south.
The journey westwards through the hills along Khanni Pass provides an excellent opportunity for birdwatching with some of the elusive endemics that grace the reserve. Species such as Southern Black Korhaan, Cape Clapper Lark, Karoo Lark, Karoo Long-billed Lark and Black Harrier can be seen, and many of them would reward a birdwatcher with a new species for their life list.
Once past Khanni Lodge the vegetation starts changing again as the drainage lines develop into the dry river systems fringed with Acacia trees. The Great Wall of Sanbona is an impressive landmark and a fitting close to the route through the reserve. This rock shows the power of geological patterns where the sedimentary rock laid down over thousands of years has been bent and folded through extreme pressures in the earth's crust so that it now runs for kilometers vertically though the reserve.
The beauty and splendour of Sanbona is experienced throughout the cycle and one cannot help but be overawed by the sheer majesty of the geological formations, the rich fossil beds, the implements and rock art left behind by Africa’s First People, the spectacular and diverse vegetation that support the incredible diversity of animal life and the sheer majesty of size, space and quiet speak directly to the soul.
This is the dream of Sanbona realized; this is your opportunity to share in a world far too long forgotten.
See the Google Map of the route