In 1956, a group of conservation minded landowners formed the Timbavati Association with the aim to reclaim the land for the benefit of all. They had come together after witnessing the degradation of a once pristine wilderness area. Insensitive land use (primarily crop and cattle farming) had caused soil erosion and destruction of indigenous plant species. In addition, natural water sources had been rerouted by dams further impacting on the natural status quo. As a result, much of the wildlife common to the area was lost.
Since the formation of the Timbavati Association, every landowner in the area has been encouraged to join in the conservation effort. Today there are over 50 members who have succeeded in restoring the land to its former glory, with diverse and rare wildlife species making the Timbavati their home.
In 1993, in recognition of the importance of the area, the fences between the Kruger National Park and the Timbavati Nature Reserve were removed to encourage natural species migration and allows free movement of wildlife between the Reserves. The world-famous Kruger National Park is a conservation area of more than 2,000,000 ha (over 5 million acres). The southern border of this great complex of public and privately – owned protected land lies close to the Kingdom of Swaziland and abuts the boundaries of Zimbabwe in the north and Mozambique in the east.
Man’s incursions into this part of the Lowveld has always been temporary and brief, from early stone age down to the early 20th century. In point of fact, large tracts of land in the northern portion of the Lowveld were never permanently settled by man. The lands now comprising of the Timbavati were barely touched, and are still only lightly inhabited. This part of South Africa’s bushveld region may therefore be regarded as truly unspoiled and deserves recognition as genuine wildland, as opposed to the “restored” and “restocked” lands commonly found elsewhere.
The Timbavati Reserve forms part of the Greater Kruger Park and lies nestled between the Kruger National Park on the east, the Klaserie and Umbabat Private Nature Reserves in the north and the Thornybush Private Nature Reserve in the west. The Reserve is also home of the famous white lions. When the White Lions of the Timbavati were discovered in the mid-1970s, they became the subject of much interest and debate. The story of the “White Lions of the Timbavati” has been told by several people, most notable of whom was Mr. Chris McBride, who published two books about the phenomenon: ‘The White Lions of the Timbavati’ and ‘Operation White Lion’.
Visitors to the Timbavati Nature Reserve can choose from a number of fantastic lodges which offer daily wildlife safaris, bush walks and excellent accommodation. Our recommended lodges are Motswari Private Game Lodge, &Beyond Ngala Lodges, Tanda Tula, Umlani Bush Camp, Kings Camp and Kambaku Lodge.
Our recommended lodges
Motswari Private Reserve
Kambaku Safari Lodge
- Kambaku River Sands is well situated in the heart of the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, part of a vast unspoilt natural wilderness area that lies within the Greater Kruger National Park.
Sitting majestically on the banks of a dry river bed, Kambaku River Sands entices the guest to sit back and relax. This unfenced camp is perfectly situated on a perennial river with continuous free flowing movement of game both big and small through the camp.
Guests at Kambaku River Sands are often afforded a safari experience with a difference from either their own private decks or the main lodge area, with almost daily up close and personal experiences with elephant, buffalo and bushbuck to name but a few.
Activities include, morning & evening game drives, bush walks, birding form the local hide, overnight sleep-outs, and spa treatments at additional cost.
The main lodge has a spacious lounge with two enormous open fireplaces for the cool winter nights. The bar allows for guests to watch elephants drinking out of the swimming pool while enjoying a cold beer or chilled glass of wine.
The wine cellar stocked with a selection of South Africa’s best, is ideally positioned to view the waterhole and all the daily four legged regulars.
- Situated in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, Kings Camp reflects the charm and romance of a colonial past in a pristine corner of unspoilt Africa. Kings Camp is situated facing an open savanna plain with a waterhole, which is frequented by a wide variety of wildlife, day and night. Nine generously spacious suites are luxuriously equipped with air-conditioning, Victorian ball-and-claw bath, indoor and outdoor double shower, fully stocked mini-bar and private verandah.
Morning and afternoon game drives with knowledgeable rangers in open vehicles. You will be served tea, coffee and biscuits on your morning game drive and drinks and canapés on your afternoon game drive. Your afternoon game drive gets back after dark, which gives you the opportunity to spot our nocturnal animals with a spotlight. Walks through the bush take place just after breakfast, on request, and is the best way of experiencing the “finer” aspects of the bushveld. Your knowledgeable ranger will guide you through the fauna and flora of the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, pointing out insects, grasses, trees and the smaller species that are all an integral part of the Timbavati Nature Reserve.
Ngala Private Lodges
- andBeyond Ngala Safari Lodge is situated in Ngala Private Game Reserve, which shares an unfenced boundary with the world-renowned Kruger National Park, South Africa’s largest wildlife sanctuary and one of the biggest game reserves in the world. A spectacular diversity of wildlife moves through this immense wilderness, including breeding herds of elephant, leopard, spotted hyena, giraffe, large buffalo herds and white rhino. With its name meaning lion in Shangaan, the local language, Ngala lives up to its promise, supporting several large prides of these powerful cats. African wild dog can also be spotted moving through the reserve.
Tucked under a canopy of mopane and tamboti trees, andBeyond Ngala Safari Lodge boasts 21 classic thatched cottages, including a spacious family suite. Each ensuite cottage, with private veranda, exudes a romantic colonial ambiance with nostalgic safari memorabilia throughout. The gracious family suite accommodates four guests and includes a private swimming pool and the use of a private vehicle. The Lodge’s sparkling swimming pool and sundeck overlook a natural riverine woodland, ideal for avid birdwatchers. Hearty breakfasts and delicious lunches are served in the dappled shade of an enormous weeping boerbean tree. Upon their return from exhilarating evening drives, guests are welcomed by Ngala’s warm, hospitable staff and a banquet set in the elegant candlelit courtyard or an African feast in the open-air traditional boma. The Lodge’s spacious thatched bar, dining and sitting areas are open to the warm breezes of the inviting African bushveld.
andBeyond Ngala Tented Camp is situated in Ngala Private Game Reserve, which shares an unfenced boundary with the world-renowned Kruger National Park, South Africa’s largest wildlife sanctuary and one of the biggest game reserves in the world. A spectacular diversity of wildlife moves through this immense wilderness, including breeding herds of elephant, leopard, spotted hyena, giraffe, large buffalo herds and white rhino. With its name meaning lion in Shangaan, the local language, Ngala lives up to its promise, supporting several large prides of these powerful cats. African wild dog can also be spotted moving through the reserve.
Chic and contemporary, andBeyond Ngala Tented Camp is renowned for sophisticated tented accommodation in tranquil bush surrounds. It comprises nine luxurious tented suites set on raised platforms with outdoor showers, baths mounted on rough-hewn wooden bases, swirling overhead fans, air conditioning, electric blankets for winter and private wooden decks. The overall essence is African, with warm, earthy tones used throughout. Built on platforms, each tented suite is cleverly designed to blend into the riverside trees, minimising impact on the environment. Mature indigenous shade trees form a luxuriantly cool canopy overhead and elegant guest areas overlook the seasonal Timbavati River. The camp’s lap pool, which follows the contours of the riverbank, is perfect for idle afternoon game viewing, while a massage sala adds a touch of pure indulgence. The food at Ngala is as individual and inventive as the camp itself. Private lunch platters are savoured on the viewing decks, at the poolside or on the lush lawn. Theatrical al fresco dinners in the dry riverbed are unforgettable.
Umlani Bush Camp