Why you MUST Visit the Balule Nature Reserve for a Big 5 Safari

You’ve heard about the much talked about Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve in the Greater Kruger, and have read copious quantities of literature regarding the abundant leopard sightings within the reserve. You’ve no doubt heard about Timbavati Private Nature reserve – a reserve famed for its once prevalent white lion population. These two private game reserves are – arguably – the most well-marketed reserves within the Lowveld, and their name is popular among international visitors.

In truth, there are many other reserves within the Greater Kruger that rival both these popular reserves. They are the lesser-known big 5 reserves that also offer unparalleled game viewing opportunities, and whose sightings and natural scenery is right up there with the more well-marketed reserves. One of these reserves is the Balule Nature Reserve, a reserve that shares unfenced borders with the Kruger National Park on their western boundary. The Balule has the Olifants River cutting through the landscape, which means reed-lined banks proved the perfect habitat for waterbuck, crocs, hippos and aquatic-loving wading birds. Mixed with this riverine style landscape is vegetation dominated by mopane. The eco-system is diverse and offers a unique topography that gives rise to earth-shattering views. 

So…Why have we decided to focus on the Balule Nature Reserve?

We’ve decided to focus on this lesser-known reserve, purely because we’re hearing about record numbers of lion cub, leopard, and big game sightings. We’ve selected our 3 favourite safari lodges within the Balule Nature Reserve, and their most recent predator sightings. 

Ezulwini River Lodge

The spectacular Olifants River, the largest in the Lowveld, cuts through the Ezulwini traverse. River Lodge overlooks the river and has a sublime wooden walkway and viewing deck under the canopy of trees. Accommodation at River Lodge is stylish and inspired by the natural elements of the Balule bushveld.

There are 4 luxury chalets, 4 superior suites and 1 honeymoon superior suite. River Lodge has a swimming pool in the main lodge area and serves delectable homemade meals under the stars in the glowing presence of lanterns and a dancing fireplace. River Lodge has atmosphere, and is the perfect place for the ultimate safari experience.

Recent sightings: Ezulwini currently enjoys sightings of 10 lion cubs. Last week they spotted the Machaton male lions, a pride of lionesses, cubs and 3 leopard sightings. 

  Ezulwini River Lodge Ezulwini River Lodge Bedrooms Ezulwini River Lodge Dining Ezulwini River Lodge Room Ezulwini Room By Night

Pondoro Game Lodge

Pondoro Game Lodge is also located on the banks of the Olifants River, and each suite has its own balcony, jacuzzi and outdoor shower. The main area houses an extensive bar with a fine selection of whiskies, cognacs and even cigars. Food is a lavish affair, and guests are afforded the opportunity to indulge in local cuisine while dining al fresco beneath the stars. Pondoro has 5 suites, 3 chalets, and a unique treehouse hide! Pondoro oozes class and there are spa treatment facilities for guests who need to relax after a day of tracking and spotting wildlife.

Recent sightings: This past week the Machaton males were spotted, lions broke a tree in order to steal a leopard’s food and the African wild dogs were also spotted during the course of the week. 

Pondoro Suite Pondoro Cheetah Sighting Pondoro Dining in Balule Nature Reserve Spa at Pondoro

Sausage Tree Safari Camp

Sausage Tree is a simple yet luxurious, eco-friendly camp that has an atmosphere of understated sophistication. It’s a small and intimate camp boasting uninterrupted views of the bushveld, extending all the way to the Drakensberg mountains. Accommodation is in African-styled safari tents each furnished with en-suite bathrooms complete with freestanding baths. Sausage Tree offers an exceptional standard of food and is known for its cuisine. Simple, classy and elegant.

Recent sightings: Machaton males and one of the Takazile lionesses which seems to be in oestrus were recently spotted. 

Sausage Tree in Balule - Boma Nights Sausage Tree Cuisine - Balule Game Drives in Balule Nature Reserve Sausage Tree Tented Camp Sausage Tree Main Area


Author: Carolynne Higgins

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