The White Lion Lodge is situated on the Sanbona Reserve at the foot of the Warmwaterberg Mountain, in the heart of the Little Karoo, between Montagu and Barrydale on the famous Route 62. The Reserve covers an area of 58 000 hectares of undulating mountains, gorges, canyons, plains, indigenous fauna and flora, rock formations and rock art make this a destination not to be missed.
Specialist guiding is a key element in providing a memorable and varied experience. The name Sanbona is a combination of the “San” people who roamed this area for thousands of years and “bona” which represents their vision in order to position this portion of the Little Karoo.
Guests are offered many opportunities to experience the wonders of Sanbona. There are 260 km of roads for game viewing in a game vehicle with an experience ranger.
Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is home to free-roaming white lions, the big 5 (Elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino), the rare riverine rabbit, Cape Mountain Zebra and numerous other species.
Sanbona’s uniqueness is not only the sheer size, but also its approach to protect, restore and conserve Fauna and Flora.
The Klein Karoo is very rich in plant species. Almost 3200 have been recorded of which more than 400 are endemic.
The Reserve exists within various flora kingdoms, Acacia Thickets, Nama Karoo, Renosterveld, Succulent Karoo, Central Mountain Fynbos.
Animals, which used to roam freely in former times, are being reintroduced to reserve. The Big Five – Lion, Leopard, Buffalo, Elephant, Rhinoceros as well as other species such as Gemsbok, Springbok, Hartebeest, Eland, Kudu, Zebra, Cape Mountain Zebra and Giraffe can be seen on this wildlife reserve. The natural small game such as Jackal, Caracal, Aardwolf, Ant bear, brown Hyena, Grey Reedbuck, Steenbok, Klipspringer, Grysbok, Duiker can also be observed. A variety of these species have adopted to the diversity of habitat types found in the Karoo.
Eland, Hartebeest, Springbok, Duiker, Steenbok are Karoo generalists. Other species prefer more specific habitat conditions. The Cape Mountain Zebra, Mountain reedbuck, grey rheebok and Klipspringer occur in mountainous and broken habitats. The network of wooded kloofs, valleys and river channels that dissects much of the Karoo provides habitat for specialist woodland browsers such as Black rhinoceros and Kudu.
Permanent water and rivers support the Hippopotamus, Elephant and Buffalo. The White Lion project returned an integrated lion pride including adult males and female white lions back to the wild. The Riverine rabbit, which can be seen on night drives is endemic to parts of the Klein Karoo and is one of the most endangered terrestrial mammals in South Africa. With an estimation of a few hundred animals being left in the wild, today the species is facing an extremely high risk of extinction.
The game reserve is home to more than 200 species of birds. Fish Eagle, Black Eagle and Black Harrier are only some of the raptors which can be seen at White Lion Lodge. There are many other fascinating birds on the reserve like the Cinnamon breasted warbler, which is endemic to the South African region and is an inhabitant of arid, rocky slopes.
The Booted Eagle migrates during the European winter to warmer sub-Saharan African climates. The Southern grey tit that is endemic to fynbos and Karoo regions are typically seen in pairs or small flocks roaming over rocky and arid areas. The Namaquan Sand Grouse can be found all over the western half of Southern Africa and particularly in arid areas with short grass.
The San People of Africa lived in this area for thousands of years until about 100 years ago. The ixam tribe, the nomadic hunter-gatherers living in harmony with nature, realized then that man and nature together are sustainable. There are 7 rock art sites throughout the reserve dating back more than 3500 years depicting the spiritual beliefs and lives of these fascinating people.
With the absence of artificial light, typically generated from town and cities, stargazing in the Karoo is amongst the best. Few things in life are as pleasant as sitting around a campfire on a warm summer night and gazing skyward at the tapestry of stars overhead. The cares of the day-to-day world can seem as distant as those flickering points of light.
Our ancient ancestors came together around campfires at night after long, hard days of hunting, fishing, and farming. After the evening meal, the elders would share incredible tales and stories of fantastic creatures, evil villains, and damsels in distress. They would often use patterns among the stars to illustrate these myths. Over the years, these stories were passed on from generation to generation, with many remaining popular even to this day.
Over 55% of the Klein Karoo Flora is degraded and only 18% is in pristine condition. Research and Monitoring of Fauna and Flora is important. Finding the correct balance, improving soil, plant quality, herbivore densities and predator population resulting in the rehabilitation of the ecosystem. Sanbona lies within a transition zone between Summer and Winter rainfall regions.
Because of the relationship between the geological formations and rainfall variability the Reserve consists of three biomes, Fynbos, Succulent Karoo and Thicket of which the Fynbos and Succulent Karoo are recognized as biodiversity hotspots.