The Sable Sleepover Hide in the Mooiplaas region of the central part of the Kruger National Park (KNP), is a unique facility where visitors can watch game from during the day but stay overnight to get the feeling of being totally part of nature itself.
During the day it is a typical bird hide, like many others in the game reserve, but when the sun sets it can be transformed into a primitive but wondrous overnight dwelling.
Then up to six people can get a first-hand experience of a glimpse of the Kruger National Park wildlife at night. The hide is built next to the Sable Dam where animals often gather to drink. Here hippos will grunt meters away from where you are sleeping, and you may even be lucky enough to hear a lion roar far away – or not so far away at all – knowing that there are just the bare essential of barriers between you and him.
A sleepover hide like the Sable Hide is one of the top overnight experiences one can savour on any affordable safari in South Africa.
This kind of accommodation is well suited for the more adventurous guests and those that are looking for a primitive, closer to nature, self-catering bushveld experience.
During the night hours it provides guests the opportunity to enjoy complete and pristine privacy since the hide can only be reserved in entirety.
Sable Dam Hide (SDH)
|Date Range||Rate||Extra Adult||Extra Child||Unit Sleeps|
|01 Nov 2020 — 31 Oct 2021||R 985 for 2 persons||R 370||R 185||9 people|
Rates quoted per night. Facilities include: 9 Single Beds, Boma and BBQ area, No shop or restaurant, No electricity, No cooking equipment, SANPARKS Community Levy
Why would you want to visit the Sable Hide
A night in the Sable Sleepover Hide provides a true African experience like few other and definitely something to add to your safari vacation.
Apart from it being the perfect place to get as near as possible to nature and experience the Kruger National Park in a way that very few people get to, the hide offers a comfortable but rustic place to sleep with some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities.
You should of course consider that this is not your average type of accommodation with a shop or other convenient facilities close by. The hide has no electricity or water for bathing or drinking. Phalaborwa Gate is the nearest place where you can stock up on any necessities.
So is it worthwhile to sacrifice all these comforts for a night’s stay in the sleepover hide?
The area is known for large buffalo and elephant herds with a lot of elephant bulls – among which some current large tuskers. The venue offers great bird watching opportunities, as well as a general offering of fauna and flora and being close to those nocturnal animals that one can never catch a glimpse of.
The way they are designed does not deter animals from coming close to the hide, and visitors can even encourage that by limiting noises and smells.
Sable Hide is far more rustic than any other place in the Kruger National Park and offers the ideal escape for anyone who wants to disconnect from the real world for a moment and spend an evening in the absolute solitude of the African wild. This type of accommodation without basic amenities such as power, water, with only one lamp which only sheds its light for a few hours, the hide will give a whole new definition to the term rustic.
With the nearest facility kilometres away, it will be just you and nature until the next morning.
Where is the Sable Hide located
The Sable Hide is situated in the Mooiplaas Ranger Section of the KNP, about 10 km away from the Phalaborwa entrance gate. The GPS coordinates for the hide is -23.939613, 31.239398.
How to get to the Sable Hide
The Sable Sleepover Hide is managed form Phalaborwa Gate and has no reception area of its own, so guests are obliged to first report to the gate for check-in and to acquire the keys, bedding, braai grid and light for their stay.
Phalaborwa entrance gate is situated in the Limpopo Province and can be reached from Gauteng, the province that is home to Johannesburg and the Oliver Tambo International Airport via the N1 toll-road to Polokwane (Pietersburg) and Tzaneen, or the N4 toll-road to Mbombela (Nelspruit) and the R540 and R36 via Belfast, Mashishing (Lydenburg) and Ohrigstad.
Travelling time from Johannesburg is at least six to seven hours.
Taking the N1 toll-road to Polokwane (Pietersburg), one has to turn right onto the R71 about 40km before Polokwane to head for Tzaneen. After Tzaneen one heads towards Phalaborwa and the gate.
After checking in and receiving the equipment for the night, you proceed to the Sable Sleepover Hide’s turn-off approximately 10km away from the gate. You should allow at least 30 minutes for this drive to the hide, since you want to have enough time available to enjoy any game viewing possibilities that may arise on this short distance.
Before leaving from Gauteng you should acquaint yourself with the relevant gate times for Kruger’s entrance gates, since it differs from season to season.
Camp gate opening and closing times are as follows: January to March: Camp gates open at 04:30 and close at 18:30; April to September: Camp gates open at 06:00 and close at 18:00; October: Camp gates open at 05:30 and close at 18:00; November to December: Camp gates open at 04:30 and close at 18:30.
What to do while staying at the Sable Hide
There is no organised activities like morning, sunset or night game drives available from Sable Sleepover Hide. Guided game walks or game drives from Phalaborwa Gate can be pre-arranged with the reception office at the gate and will be subject to availability.
But then, since most people combine a stay at Sable Hide with stays at other camps in the park, you may be better off enjoying those kind of activities from other camps and savour the solitude and uniqueness of the hide itself while you have the opportunity.
What to watch out for when staying at the Sable Hide
Staying at the Sable Hide is an exciting and unique experience and guests may be lucky enough to see flora and fauna that few other visitors will catch sight of.
But being so close to a dam means you should probably see animals of all kinds, from the big ones like elephant, buffalo, hippo, crocodile and big cats, wild dog and hyena, to antelope and smaller mammals of all kinds.
When you arrive at the hide during late afternoon, watch out for lions with cubs, since pride energy levels rise in preparation for the night hunt. Hyenas start to emerge from their lairs and leopard and cheetah get up from their day’s rest to go hunting.
Wild dogs become very active and impala may have a last drink of water before they move to the most open terrain around them. Warthogs will head for their burrows and baboons seek a place for the night. Zebras may come for water before seeking a sleeping spot with minimal risk of ambush and rhinos become more active – and often spend time near the water.
In the evening hippos emerge from the water, often walking several kilometres away to graze, giraffe come for a drink before settling down while many antelope continue feeding around water sources like the dam. Look out for genets and civets, because they do most of their hunting before midnight.
In the small hours of the night you may hear and see lion and hyaena on the hunt, while cheetah and wild dogs usually are asleep. Bush babies may get quite noisy around the hide but many other animals including buffalo, wildebeest and kudu may continue to feed and come for a drink of water.
Just before dawn lions often are seen drinking at water holes and it is prime hunting time for wild dogs. It is also an active time for the diurnal serval and at daybreak hyenas may return to their dens while leopard is also more active for the first few hours of daylight before finding a branch to rest on.
What type of accommodation does the Sable Hide offer and what amenities/facilities are available at the hide
The Sable Overnight Hide provides comfortable accommodation for between 2 and 6 people. You can arrange with Phalaborwa Gate beforehand to supply bedding, a light and a braai grid, which you can then pick up when checking in at the gate.
The sleeping units are folded back and attached to the inside of the wall of the hide during the day.
When you arrive for the night, these units can be folded out and turned into comfortable bed bases upon which the mattresses can be placed. The mattresses are all stored inside a cupboard in the hide.
The bedding that is provided includes a sheet and a mattress protector, pillow and pillowcase, duvet and duvet cover and mosquito net.
There is no running water provided at the hide and an environmental toilet is provided nearby in a separate area on the hide perimeter – only for the use of overnight guests.
The hide are not serviced and is totally self-catering. It comprises a boma area with a fitted braai facility, but since no cooking utensils or crockery is provided, you need to bring your own with you.
As only one light is provided, you must bring your own if you feel the need to have more than that single light source. Vehicles can be parked inside the enclosure, which contributes to your own safety, and so that you don’t need to leave the enclosure at all, once you are settled.
Only the very perimeter of the facility is fenced, and guests should remember that they are in the wild and must exercise extreme caution at all times.
There is no cell phone reception at the hide.
What do you need to know and bring for a safe and comfortable stay at the Sable Hide
Plan properly for your stay at the Sable Hide to make it safer and more relaxed.
Guests must bring their own food, wood and water.
You may bring your own bedding, but if you don’t see your way open to drive with that around in the park, it is much more convenient to make use the bedding provided at the gate on payment of a deposit. The bedding that is provided includes a sheet and a mattress protector, pillow and pillowcase, duvet and duvet cover and mosquito net.
When staying in an overnight hide, you need not only savour the fact that you are possibly staying closer to nature than all other park guests, you should also be more responsible in your attitude and behaviour.
It is more important than ever that you respect nature and the animals. Therefore never approach, feed or try to touch any of them that may come close to the hide. Not even the smaller ones that may successfully enter the enclosure. Should that happen, give them the best opportunity to get out again, of it is really becomes a problem, you will need to alert nearby camp officials who will come and escort the animal out.
Regardless of what time of year it may be, there will most likely be a lot of insects and reptiles in the vicinity. Remember that you are the intruder and that they have the right of way.
Many of them favour corners and crevices and you should be on extra lookout for them, as a step into their safe haven may result in a painful sting or bite. When staying in the hide, it may be wise to keep your shoes on until you get into bed and always have a torch or headlight with you.
When staying this close to nature, some of these insects and reptiles may actually pose a danger to visitors. Snakes, spiders and scorpions do not need to be poisonous to leave an inflamed and painful bite.
It doesn’t matter what time of the year you choose to visit; in this part of the country you should always be cautious against malaria and the risks that go along with it. The threat of Malaria of course heightens during the summer months when it is the rainy season and humidity is often very high.
Most parts of the KNP is situated well within a malaria area. This is much more than just an unpleasant illness but can be fatal if left untreated. Since it is being spread by mosquitoes, the best way to avoid getting sick is to prevent the mosquitos to bite you.
You can avoid mosquito bites if you take the necessary steps, such as wearing long sleeves and trousers in the evening, using a reputable kind of insect repellent and sleeping under the provided net.
The best way to totally avoid a malaria scare is to get the necessary preventative medication prescribed by your doctor before journeying into the African bush.
Although it is basically impossible for larger, more dangerous animals to enter the hide, it is best to always be alert.
When to visit the Sable Hide
The best time of the year to make your trip to the hide may either be early spring or late autumn, since summers in the Kruger can get very hot and humid and often end with a thunderstorm in the late afternoon.
Such hot summer weather can make any safari experience unpleasant, even more in a hide where there is no electricity – and therefore any electric fans or air-conditioning.
Even animals sometimes shy away from the heat. Winters are usually mild, but the days can get very cold and the nights even colder – especially when sleeping in the hide with no windowpanes and curtains to keep the cold out.
A good time to sleep over in the Sable Hide is at the beginning or end of the region’s dry season, which falls between April and September. During this time temperatures are mostly pleasant, and water is scarce in the veld due to the lack of rain, so you will have a better chance of spotting animals coming for a drink in the Sable Dam.
1. Where is the Sable Hide located?
The Sable Hide is located of the about 10 km away from the Phalaborwa entrance gate to the KNP.
2. What to expect and look out for when staying at the Sable Hide
There is no organised activities like morning, sunset or night game drives offered from Sable Sleepover Hide but can be pre-arranged from the Phalaborwa Gate reception office.
From the hide you may see animals of all kinds, from elephant, buffalo, hippo, crocodile and big cats, wild dog and hyena, to antelope and smaller mammals of all kinds.
3. What facilities are provided at the Sable Hide and what do you need to bring along?
The hide provides fold-away bed bases and mattresses for 2 to 6 people and an environmental toilet on the premises.
You arrange with Phalaborwa Gate beforehand to pick up a light, a braai grid and bedding, which includes a sheet, mattress protector, pillow, pillowcase, duvet, duvet cover and mosquito net.
No running water, cooking utensils or crockery are provided, you must bring your own, as well as own food, wood and water, insect repellent and more lights if you want to.
4. Can you directly book accommodation at the Sable Hide online?
No, you need to book the hide via phone, email, or in person.
5. When is the best time to visit the Sable Hide?
The best times of the year to stay at the hide is early spring or late autumn, when temperatures are mostly pleasant, and water is scarce in the veld, so more animals may come for a drink in the dam.