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Frequently Asked Questions

When is the best time of the year to visit Sabie?
High rainfall during summer may curtail sight seeing. Winter months are cool but sunny. Sabie is usually fully booked for long weekends and school holidays. Best months are March to October.

How old are the tree ferns visible from the main roads?
These tree ferns can grow up to 7m in height - as tall as a two storey building and reach a ripe old age of up to 200 years. Normal height, however, is 3.5m after 70 years.

Where can I buy tree ferns?
Some local nurseries do have tree ferns in stock from time to time. Check our Services & Supplies page.

May I pick flowers?
No. By law, picking of flowers or removing any plant material from our indigenous plants is an offence. This includes plants growing along roads.

May I enter a plantation to fish or have a picnic?
No, these plantations are private property. Without an entry permit, you may be arrested and charged under the Forest Act.

Why do I have to pay to visit some of the picnic spots and waterfalls?
The nominal fee charged is used for the maintenance and protection of the facilities.

I experienced bad service. Who do I complain to?
Complain to the service provider first, and then contact the Sabie Publicity & Marketing Association (see our Contact Info page).

Its raining! What can we do?
Check our Adventure & Sport and our Day Trips pages for activities that are not weather dependent.

Should I take precautions against Malaria?
The escarpment (Sabie, Graskop & Pilgrim's Rest) is malaria free. If you will be visiting the Lowveld (e.g. Kruger National Park) you should take precautions. Consult your pharmacist or doctor at least a week before your visit.

For Forestry related Questions & Answers, see our special 

Red-Hot Poker

Lone Creek Falls

Yellow Arum Lily

Formosa Lily

About Sabie

Autumn reflections on the Sabie river
Autumn Tints on the Sabie River
Photo: Willie Jacobs

Sabie is a small country town nestled in a deep valley on the escarpment of the Drakensberg mountain range in the Mpumalanga ("place of the rising sun") province of South Africa.

The town is located 360 km (220 miles) east of the Johannesburg International Airport and 64 km (40 miles) west of the renown Kruger National Park.  For exact GPS coordinates and a road map, see our Contact Info page.

Sabie is a popular tourist destination with breathtaking nature scenes and spectacular water falls in pristine mountain streams.  The tourism infrastructure is well developed with a number of accommodation establishments and restaurants.

The delightful forestry and tourist town of Sabie is proud to be without a single parking meter or traffic robot, but we do have a fine collection of stop streets!  All businesses and facilities in town are within walking distance and ample provision has been made for tour bus parking.

Our 40 accommodation establishments cater for the full range of accommodation preferences.  These include stately lodges, homely bed & breakfast guest houses, fully equipped self-catering chalets and tents, shady camp sites and budget accommodation for backpackers.  A number of establishments also offer state-of-the-art conference venues.

For the Hungry:
Sabie have more that 20 restaurants, pubs, coffee shops, pancake bars, biltong delicatessens and fast food outlets catering for all culinary delights.  For the self catering enthusiasts our supermarkets, butcheries, bakeries and liquor stores will keep your pantries and picnic baskets well stocked.

The closest major shopping mall is in Nelspruit (60 km from Sabie), but its an experience to shop-till-you-drop in our dozen or so curio shops and numerous road-side curio stalls.  With nature on our doorstep, the town of Sabie is an inspiring environment for a growing number of artists and craftsmen and women, producing unique works of art.  Should you require more mundane goodies, our building & hardware, clothing & furniture and  hiking & camping shops are well stocked.

Two banks (First National and Standard) are fully represented in Sabie, each with ATMs and foreign currency exchange services.  There is also a ABSA Bank agency and ATM in Sabie.  Sabie sports fast and efficient postal, courier and rail services.  Cell phone reception is good and if you have to send and receive E-mail, visit Sabie's Internet Café.

For the not so well, Sabie's doctors, dentists, physiotherapist, hospital, ambulance service, pharmacies, clinics and old-age home will ease the burden.  Specialist medical services are available in Nelspruit (65km from Sabie).

Should you experience mechanical problems, our tow-in services, garages, workshops and automotive spare-parts outlets will have you back on the road in no time.  The only automotive dealership in town is that of Toyota, but most of the other dealerships are represented in Nelspruit (65km from Sabie).

There are seven primary and secondary schools (some with hostel facilities) in Sabie, providing quality education to more than 2 500 learners.  In addition to these schools there are a number of pre-primary schools and crèches, as well as dedicated individuals providing tuition in sport, music, computer literacy, mathematics, languages, ABET (Adult Basic Education and Training) and driver licenses.  The municipal library have a fine collection of books and other reference material.

For the sport enthusiast, Sabie offers a number of facilities for sports such as aerobics, bowls, clay pigeon shooting, cricket, cycling, golf, rugby, soccer, spinning, squash, swimming, tennis, horse riding & dressage, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing & abseiling, white water rafting, caving and fly-fishing.  The Bambanani Indoor Sports Centre and the Country Club houses a number of these sport facilities.  For more information see our Adventure & Sport page.

Forest Industry Museum:
Sabie's pride and joy is the SAFCOL Forest Industry Museum.  This museum is the only one of its kind on the African Continent and is well worth a visit.  Not only is it educational, but it's displays fascinates both old and young alike.

Trade and Industry
The Forestry industry is by far the largest industry in Sabie.  The commercial plantations surrounding Sabie is one of the largest man-made forests in the world and thousands of workers and contractors are employed in the plantations and sawmills around Sabie.  For more information about the Forestry Industry, see our special Forestry page.

Sabie offers all the key elements for profitable industrial developments.  These include water, electricity, labour and wood-based raw materials, as well as the supporting infrastructure, such as modern road and rail links, and telecommunications.

With its breathtaking nature scenes, spectacular water falls and pristine mountain streams, Sabie is a popular tourist destination.  The tourism infrastructure is well developed with a large number of accommodation establishments, restaurants, curio shops and hiking trails.  There is general consensus that the tourism potential in Sabie is still largely under-utilised.

Prospective developers and investors are advised to contact the Sabie Chamber of Commerce and Tourism (Willie Kruger on 078 077-0027) or the Municipal Manager (see below under Governance) for more information.

Thaba Chweu Emblem Sabie, along with the towns of Graskop, Lydenburg and Pilgrims Rest, is part of the Thaba Chweu Municipality.  "Taba Chweu" (White Mountain) is a Sotho phrase that refers to the occasional snow-capped peaks of Mauchberg, Formosa and Mount Anderson - the three 2 200m (7 200 ft) high mountain peaks between Sabie and Lydenburg.


Mayor:   Mr Moses M. Mashego  (013) 235-2121
Municipal Manager:   Mr. Mbuso Manana (013) 764-6000

Fauna and Flora
The escarpment is a mosaic of rocky hillsides, mountain grassland and pockets of Afromontane-mistbelt forest.  Natural habitats are fragmented by vast plantations of exotic pine and eucalyptus trees.  The mountain grasslands contain a rich diversity of plant species, many of which are protected species.  During the summer months these lush grasslands, especially the wetlands with  their rich carpet of flowers, are a delight to behold.

A diverse variety of mammals occur in the wooded valleys and mountain grasslands.  Most notable is the elusive black leopard - seen by but a privileged few.

More than 20 registered Natural Heritage Sites occur within less than an hour's drive from Sabie.  The qualification criteria for registration include stands of special plant communities, good examples of aquatic habitats, sensitive catchment areas, habitats of threatened or endangered species, as well as outstanding natural features.  For more information see our Natural Heritage page.

Sabie, at an altitude of 1 000 metres about sea level, falls within the summer rainfall area of South Africa. The average rainfall is more than 1 200mm per annum with even higher rainfall figures on the mountain slopes above Sabie.   Most of the rain falls between October and April with the highest rainfall in January and February (170 - 190mm per month). Thunderstorms, with occasional hail, occur often but most of the rainfall is in the form of soft penetrating rain, often lasting several days.

Photo: Byron Athienides
This photo, and others, are obtainable from Petena Pancakes in Sabie

The average temperature ranges from 2 to 32°C with the warmest days in December (average 26°C) and the coldest nights in June (average 3°C).  During winter light to moderate frost is prevalent with snow occurring on the high mountain peaks above Sabie every few years.  During late autumn / early winter the air is occasionally hazy due to timber growers burning firebreaks.

Webmaster's Note:
Mist often occur during the summer months, transforming the lower-lying valleys into a mystical fairyland of ever-changing light-and-shadow movement.  It is under these conditions, so it is rumoured, that the award-winning photographers and forest elves are most active .....

Visitors are advised to bring warm clothing for the winter months and cool summer evenings.  Raincoats and umbrellas are useful for the summer months.  The African sun is, at times, harsh and unforgiving.  Visitors (especially those from abroad) should take adequate protection against sunburn - even when days are cloudy.

Sabie and the surrounding areas have a rich history relating to the early pioneers of the country.  These pioneers include well known hunters, transport riders, gold miners, leaders of the Boer Nation, engineers and foresters.  For more information, see our special History page.

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