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Timbavati Game Reserve Highlights

The Timbavati Game Reserve consists of a group of private game farms and reserves situated north of Sabi Sand on the western edge of the National Park. It is considered to be one of South Africa’s premier game viewing areas. Timbavati Game Reserve was established in 1956 by a group of like-minded game farmers.

This 60 000 hectare reserve shares a common unfenced border with the Kruger National Park allowing animals to move freely over 2 million hectares of prime African bush.

This hot lowveld area of wood and grassland is home to Africa's Big 5, as well as cheetah and wild dog, wildebeest, impala, kudu, waterbuck and Burchell's zebra.. This abundance of wildlife ensures that visitors to the area have an unforgettable safari experience.

White lions exist in the wild in the Timbavati, with a couple of adult females in the Giraffe, and the white gene carried in both the local pride of lions and the neighbouring lions, called the Ross Pride.

Sun Safaris Says

The Timbavati Game Reserve is an excellent option for a safari in the Kruger. It is teeming with wildlife and there are safari lodge options for all budgets. We recommend a minimum of 3 nights in this reserve if the Timbavati is your only stop.

Otherwise, our recommendation is to combine 2-3 nights in the Timbavati with 2-3 nights in either of the Sabi Sand or Klaserie Private Reseves. This allows guests to experience different areas of the Kruger, as well as exposing them to different leopard and lion territories.

What is good to know is that the Ashtons daily road transfer shuttle from Johannesburg drops guests off at Josmacs Bush Pub, which is just outside the Timbavati Main Gate, so affordable access is available, especially if the scheduled flights to Hoedspruit are full or too expensive.

The Timbavati is a Private Reserve, which means that lodges can offer to take their guests on night drives and on bush walks, creating a whole new perspective on safari.

 

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Safari Lodges within Timbavati Game Reserve

Walkers Bush Villa

Walkers Bush Villa is a stately safari home in the Timbavati Nature Reserve, offering exclusive accommodation in four bedrooms, inviting families with children or a group of 10 guests to relax in luxury and style.

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Waterbuck Private Camp

Waterbuck Private Camp offers privacy and exclusivity in a luxurious 4-bedroomed villa with its own safari vehicle, game-ranger, personal butler and chef.

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Ngala Tented Camp

Ngala Tented Camp offers a luxurious and peaceful escape in the two million hectare world famous Kruger National Park overlooking the banks of the Timbavati River.

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Tanda Tula Safari Camp

Tanda Tula Safari Camp offers a luxury tented safari in a peaceful setting on the banks of the Nlharalumi riverbed in the Timbavati Nature Reserve shaded by magnificent trees overlooking a watering hole.

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Makanyi Lodge

Makanyi Lodge is the latest addition to the Timbavati lodges. Luxury accommodation awaits in eight large suites each overlooking a well visited dam.

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RockFig Safari Lodge

Named after a resident female leopard whose turf lies in this territory, Rockfig Safari Lodge is a newly renovated luxury offering in the Timbavati Nature Reserve, perfect for exclusively booked getaways or intimate safari stays.

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Machaton Private Camp

Machaton Private Camp has just 3 beautiful individual suites, capturing the essence of an African safari. Enjoy an authentic and exclusive Kruger safari in the untamed wilderness of the Timbavati

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Motswari Game Lodge

The name “Motswari" means to conserve or protect in the local Tswana language and it is a promise that the owners strive to keep for every future visitor to Motswari Game Lodge

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Ngala Safari Lodge

Ngala Safari Lodge is a luxurious hide-away offering guests the opportunity to experience the magic and mystery of the African bush in the Timbavati Nature Reserve.

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Kings Camp

The impeccable Kings Camp is a luxurious safari camp and offers a superb big five game experience in the heart of the Timbavati Nature Reserve. Expert guides will accompany guests on walking safaris and game drives.

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Umlani Bushcamp

Umlani Bushcamp is ideal for guests looking for a quiet and romantic safari experience with only candles and oil lamps providing light, offering a true bush-feel.

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Kambaku River Sands

Kambaku River Sands is a luxury family and child friendly lodge, located on the river banks of the Timbavati Private Game Reserve, with large rooms and a beautiful deck area and luxury spa.

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Tanda Tula Field Camp

Tanda Tula Field Camps are located in the Eastern and Southern part of the Timbavati in Kruger. The emphasis is on walking safaris where guests track big game on foot with experienced guides and trackers and spot all the smaller species that are often overlooked while on a game drive.

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Simbavati Hilltop Lodge

Simbavati Hilltop Lodge is situated on a small koppie with each luxury safari tent and main guest areas overlooking these breath-taking views.This luxury safari camp in Timbavati offers an exclusive Timbavati experience

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Kambaku Safari Lodge

Kambaku Safari Lodge is nestled in the heart of the Timbavati, offering a family safari lodge and a relaxed informal atmosphere. Overlooking a waterhole, Kambaku has wildlife coming to drink frequently.

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Geiger's Camp

Geiger’s Camp embodies African beauty, style and comfort. This camp on the reserve has recently been renovated, and now stands as a true place of reflection and tranquillity, quietly nestled a few kilometres from the main game lodge.

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Shindzela Tented Safari Camp

Shindzela Tented Safari Camp is a small and intimate safari camp catering for a maximum of 12 guests. Shindzela has no electricity and offers a traditional and romantic bush camp experience.

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Simbavati River Lodge

Simbavati River Lodge offers visitors a luxurious family retreat with friendly and efficient staff in the heart of the world famous Timbavati Private Nature Reserve. Set under a canopy of Jackelberry trees, luxury chalets and tents stretch out along the river banks offering supurb views.

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Nsala Safari Camp

A small and intimate, traditional safari camp in its own private nature reserve bordering the Klaserie and Timbavati Reserves in the Greater Kruger, ideal for exclusive use by small groups and families.

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Timbavati Game Reserve on display

Timbavati Game Reserve Viewing and Activities

The area supports a variety of wildlife including the Big 5, as well as cheetah and wild dog. Most antelope and gazelle species can be spotted, such as buffalo, blue wildebeest, bushbuck, impala, kudu, waterbuck, and Burchell's zebra.

Other animals to look out for are giraffe, hippo, spotted hyena, vervet monkeys and baboons. Nocturnal animals like the civet, genet, honey badger, bush-baby and owl can be seen while out on night drives. Also, elusive nocturnal animals including the endangered African Wild Cat and the Pangolin (Scaly Anteater) are often sighted.

Breeding herds of elephant make for exceptional viewing, while white rhino sightings increase during the dry season. Large breeding herds of buffalo, numbering up to 400, have been moving through the area using the waterholes. 

The Timbavati is a bird-watcher's paradise with over 350 species of birds, and guides can accommodate for all guests' interest, taking them on day and night drives, as well as guided walks.

Timbavati Game Reserve Seasons and Climate

The climate in the Timbavati is considered subtropical. Summers are very hot and humid and winters are cool and dry.

Summer is from October to March and is characterised by hot, humid days and afternoon thunderstorms. Daytime temperatures can get very high, followed by cooler more comfortable nights. The dry bushveld comes to life after the rains however game becomes more difficult to find as numerous waterholes fill up and the foliage becomes thicker.

Winter, known as the dry season, is from April until September and brings clear skies and warm, sunny days with cold to chilly early mornings and evenings. Winter means less water is available in the region and animals tend to congregate around the water sources, making game viewing in the dry winter months the best.

Top Destinations

Shindzela Tented Camp is a rustic bush camp perfect for guests with a sense of adventure, and looking for a more traditional safari experience. 

Simbavati River Lodge is an affordable luxury safari option in the Timbavati. It also offers family chalets and is therefore suitable for families. Located nearby is Motswari Safari Lodge, and guests stand the best chance of seeing the legendary while lions of the Timbavati at Motswari.

Kings Camp is a very luxurious safari lodge centrally located in the reserve. The lodge has very experienced game rangers and management team which certainly adds up to a quality safari.

Kambaku Safari Lodge is an excellent owner managed safari lodge and ideal for families, as well as for guests looking for a small, intimate safari lodge within the Timbavati, while Kambaku River Sands is located along the seasonal river with chalets that all offer beautiful views of the river and lush vegetation within the reserve. 

How to Get There

There are daily flights from OR Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg International) to Hoedspruit Airport (also called Eastgate).

Phalaborwa and Kruger Mpumalanga Airport (KMIA) airport can also be used to access the Timbavati Game Reserve lodges.

Once guests arrive at the various airports (flights will be arranged by Sun Safaris agent) they have a choice between, a car hire option (self-drive), a road transfer to the lodge where they will be staying or a short air transfer (flight hop) to the various lodges in the Timbavati Game Reserve.

All the Timbavati Game Reserve lodges are accessible via self drive with a sedan rental car from anywhere in South Africa. To self drive from Johannesburg will take approximately 6 hours.

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