From comfortable tented camps to luxury safari lodges in Timbavati

Tucked between Limpopo and Mpumalanga, the Timbavati Game Reserve was founded in 1956 by like-minded game farmers on a mission to conserve the area. Altogether, the reserve spans 53, 392ha, and hosts multiple luxury lodges and camps all offering immersive experiences in nature.

It’s a magical place; here, the sweet fragrance of the bushveld greets the nose, and sweeping views of the savannahs invade the eyes. The famed floodplain’s lush mopane forests attract numerous species of mammals and birds, with prey keeping nervous eyes alert for predators. These predators include leopards, hyenas, wild dogs, and – Timbavati’s most enigmatic inhabitants – its rare white lions, the ghostly kings of the land. Aside from the Big 5, the region is home to over 360 bird species, so birders will be in a feathery paradise. 

It’s easy to get to Timbavati – three regional airports surround the reserve, with Hoedspruit’s Eastgate Airport a mere 30 minutes away. It’s harder to decide where to stay. The region has multiple lovely accommodation options including the Tanda Tula Field Camp, which is resurrected and deconstructed especially for each safari, leaving no trace on the land. The height of eco-friendly options, the camp only hosts two to eight guests at a time, making it a wonderfully intimate option for couples and families. 

If Tanda’s ‘glamping’ isn’t your style, you may prefer Ngala Safari Lodge’s grandiose colonial-style establishment – especially as this private safari reserve was incorporated into Kruger National Park and has exclusive traversing rights over 19,485km2. Live like royalty at Kings Camp, where old-world hospitality prevails; or opt for the hidden gem that is Motswari Private Game Reserve – a diamond tucked away deep within Timbavati, that shares an open border with Kruger Park. Aside from the luxurious lodge and bungalows, Motswari also offers the Giraffe Nest Sleep-out option – elevated to five metres above the ground (the height of a male giraffe), this private nook is lit up by lanterns and overlooks the Xanatsi Dam – perfect for a romantic sleepover under the stars. 

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