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Kruger private reserves II

 

This trip


Almost identical itinerary as the previous sample trip. But in this itinerary, you'll visit three different reserves instead of two (apart from Klaserie and Timbavati you'll also go to Balule).



In a nutshell

Number of nights:

Lodges:



Price:









International flights:


12

Mohlabetsi Safari Lodge (4 nights)
Shindzela Camp (4 nights)
nThambo Tree Camp (4 nights)

From 36.000 Rand / 2.690 $ / 2.120 £ / 2.495 € per person
Includes local flights from/to Johannesburg
Includes all inter-lodge transfers
Mohlabetsi; includes two daily game drives in Balule private reserve
Shindzela; includes two daily game drives in Timbavati private reserve
nThambo; includes two daily game drives in Klaserie private reserve

Based on double room occupancy
Price depending on season

Not included
Approximately 380 £ per person from UK, or 850 $ per person from US
See examples at the bottom of this page


Strong points

 

  • ◦   Safari completely in private reserves open to Kruger
  • ◦   Off-roading, bush walks and night drives allowed
  • ◦   Qualitative wildlife encounters; max. 3 vehicles per sighting meaning no "bush jams"
  • ◦   Experienced guides and trackers
  • ◦   Qualitative and very comfortable lodges
  • ◦   Local flights from/ to Johannesburg included
  • ◦   Can easily be extended with Drakensberg mountains or Mozambique beach holiday
 



Lodges


 
 
 

Mohlabetsi Safari lodge

 
 
 
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Mohlabetsi Safari Lodge lies deep within the Balule private reserve; about half ann hour away from the gate! The lodge is located in the south part of the reserve, and has the biggest traversing area of all lodges on the reserve. Its location and its traverse have some advantages;

  • The deeper you are in the reserve, the closer you are to Kruger National Park borders and Klaserie Reserve borders, and the farther away you are from civilisation (and all the negative effects that come with it such as noise and light pollution).
  • Mohlabetsi is not located at the Olifants River (which is located all the way north in the reserve), but they can drive there whenever they want. There's actually two stretches of the river they can get to. A game drive to a river that's flowing all year means seeing a larger wildlife diversity. You'll find many more bird species there, but also mammals that are very water-dependent (nyala, bushbuck, hippo, ...). And of course, crocodiles. Very few lodges can offer a river view; Klaserie and Timbavati reserves have smaller rivers which are not always flowing. Only the Sands River in the Sabi Sands reserve is similar to the Olifants River. But the lodges in Sabi Sands are usually much more expensive.
  • Close to the river it becomes quite rocky, and there's a lot of bushes. The ideal habitat for black rhinos. And you guessed it; yes, these animals can be seen in Balule! Nineteen of them were reintroduced, and by now they already have three calves! There's only about 2,000 black rhinos left in the wild, spread across Africa. They are threatened with extinction. But in Balule they do well!
  • The huge traversing area of Mohlabetsi mean that they can get to every sighting they want. They share their digital radio channel with other lodges such as Ezulwini (two lodges), Pondoro and Greenfire. If one of the vehicles spot something very interesting, then Mohlabetsi can always respond to that sighting (if time to get there permits it). This is very important; Mohlabetsi is the only lodge that can guarantee this. A direct result of their huge traverse is that they regularly see no less than six different lion prides!
 
 
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Mohlabetsi Safari Lodge has standard rooms and family rooms (basically double rooms, so to speak). They are spread out in a shady garden, all just a few steps away from the central area (where the pool is).

All are in the typical rondavel-style: huts with thatch roofs, with a spacious bedroom and next to that a bathroom wash basin and toilet. The showers are "al fresco"; located outside behind a stone wall. Nothing more fun than towering underneath a starry sky. All rooms have air conditioning, a fan, and a safe.

Meals at Mohlabetsi are on a slightly higher level than most lodges in the same price range in the private reserves. They are served in the "boma" area, around a welcoming and cozy fire pit.
 
 
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Shindzela Camp

 
 
 
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Shindzela Camp is a 12 bed tented lodge, situated in the middle of Timbavati Private Reserve, right next to the known Ngala concession from AndBeyond (where a night's stay is a lot more expensive; just google it) and very close to the Kruger National Park borders.

Shindzela Camp was established by Dave, an old-school FGASA level 3 guide (of which there are only a few). He learned the ropes from the old hands in the safari business and from legendary game rangers in the Kruger National Park like Bruce Lawson. Shindzela used to be owned by the Transfrontier group, an well known safari company. When the owners separated, Dave bought the lodge and continued on his own. Dave kept the old-school approach; for him the number of sighting is less important than the quality. There's nothing in between you and nature!

By now Dave is enjoying his well deserved retirement and the camp is now owned by three brothers. These gentlemen Put the first "Gomo Gomo" lodge on the map (now called Simbavati River Lodge) and repeated that success with the current succes with the current Gomo Gomo lodge (in Klaserie Private Reserve).

 
 
They left Gomo Gomo lodge and took over Shindzela Camp.  They also managed to persuade legendary guide Johan Smalman to join them.

Shindzela Camp is certainly a hidden gem. Extra attention has been paid to bush walks; each morning you can opt between a game drive or pure bush walk. During bush walks you learn a lot about tracks, animal droppings, plants and trees and the finer details of nature's ecological web. This is the guides' way to take you as close to nature as possible.


Meals are home cooked and hearty; this is another plus for Shindzela Camp; their chef's ability to create awesome meals with simple ingredients and served with pride!

 
 
 
 

nThambo Tree Camp

 
 
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nThambo Tree Camp is situated in the "Ross" block within the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, not far from sister cam Africa On Foot.  Both camps have the same owners; Courteney en Cecilia Blunden. nThambo Tree Camp's location is just great; on the highest point of a plain and with view on the Drakensberg mountains. Because all huts are on stilts, the view on the mountains is simply spectacular.

All huts are made from wood and canvas. No bricks are used. The lodge's central part has a high ceiling and contains a lounge, bar, swimming pool with sun deck, dining area, boma (fenced area with fire where the typical braai "barbeque" is done) and kitchen; all on a raised wooden platform.
 
 
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The rooms are very romantic; made from wood, canvas and thatch roof.  They are spacious with a queen sized bed and sufficient storage space. All rooms have an en-suite bathroom. with shower, washbasin and toilet. As far as we're concerned, nThambo's rooms are close to perfection.

Meals are hearthy and delicious. nThambo holds our record of "best Bobotie". Desserts are - unfortunately - delicious as well. If you have any dietary requirements, just let them know in advance.

nThambo Tree Camp employs the most legendary tracker ever; Isaac. He takes Luan and Bjorn, the guides behind the steering wheel, to a lot of big cat sightings.
 
 
 
 
 
 



Safari
itinerary
in detail



 
 

Day 1


Day 2






Day 3






Day 4






Day 5






Day 6






Day 7






Day 8






Day 9






Day 10






Day 11






Day 12






Day 13






Day 14





Day 15

Morning (US) or afternoon (EU); depature. International flight to South Africa.


Morning; arrival in Johannesburg
Noon: flight from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit and transfer to Mohlabetsi Safari Lodge
Afternoon: game drive in Balule Private Nature Reserve
Evening: night drive in Balule Private Nature Reserve, followed by dinner
Overnight at Mohlabetsi Safari Lodge


Morning: game drive in Balule Private Nature Reserve followed by breakfast
Noon: relax in camp and have a light lunch
Afternoon: game drive in Balule Private Nature Reserve
Evening: night drive in Balule Private Nature Reserve, followed by dinner
Overnight at Mohlabetsi Safari Lodge


Morning: game drive in Balule Private Nature Reserve followed by breakfast
Noon: relax in camp and have a light lunch
Afternoon: game drive in Balule Private Nature Reserve
Evening: night drive in Balule Private Nature Reserve, followed by dinner
Overnight at Mohlabetsi Safari Lodge


Morning: game drive in Balule Private Nature Reserve followed by breakfast
Noon: relax in camp and have a light lunch
Afternoon: game drive in Balule Private Nature Reserve
Evening: night drive in Balule Private Nature Reserve, followed by dinner
Overnight at Mohlabetsi Safari Lodge


Morning: game drive in Balule Private Nature Reserve followed by breakfast
Noon: transfer to Shindzela Tented Camp, relax in camp and have a light lunch
Afternoon: game drive in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Evening: night drive in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, followed by dinner
Overnight at Shindzela Tented Camp


Morning: game drive or game walk in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve followed by breakfast
Noon: relax in camp and have a light lunch
Afternoon: game drive in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Evening: night drive in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, followed by dinner
Overnight at Shindzela Tented Camp


Morning: game drive or game walk in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve followed by breakfast
Noon: relax in camp and have a light lunch
Afternoon: game drive in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Evening: night drive in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, followed by dinner
Overnight at Shindzela Tented Camp


Morning: game drive or game walk in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve followed by breakfast
Noon: relax in camp and have a light lunch
Afternoon: game drive in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Evening: night drive in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, followed by dinner
Overnight at Shindzela Tented Camp


Morning: game drive or game walk in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve followed by breakfast
Noon: transfer to nThambo Camp, relax in camp and have a light lunch
Afternoon: game drive in Klaserie Private Nature Reserve
Evening: night drive in Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, followed by dinner
Overnight at nThambo Camp


Morning: game drive in Klaserie Private Nature Reserve followed by breakfast
Noon: relax in camp and have a light lunch
Afternoon: game drive in Klaserie Private Nature Reserve
Evening: night drive in Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, followed by dinner
Overnight at nThambo Camp


Morning: game drive in Klaserie Private Nature Reserve followed by breakfast
Noon: relax in camp and have a light lunch
Afternoon: game drive in Klaserie Private Nature Reserve
Evening: night drive in Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, followed by dinner
Overnight at nThambo Camp


Morning: game drive in Klaserie Private Nature Reserve followed by breakfast
Noon: relax in camp and have a light lunch
Afternoon: game drive in Klaserie Private Nature Reserve
Evening: night drive in Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, followed by dinner
Overnight at nThambo Camp


Morning: game drive in Klaserie Private Nature Reserve followed by breakfast
Noon: transfer to Hoedspruit Airport
Afternoon; flight from Hoedspruit to Johannesburg
Evening: International flight home


Morning/noon: arrival in EU/UK/US

 
 

Included / not included

 

Included

  • ◦   Local flight Johannesburg to Hoedspruit
  • ◦   All transfers between airports and lodges, and between lodges themselves
  • ◦   Four nights at Mohlabetsi Safari Lodge, located in Balule Private Nature Reserve
  • ◦   Four nights at Shindzela Camp, located in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
  • ◦   Four nights at nThambo Camp, located in Klaserie Private Nature Reserve
  • ◦   Alle meals at these lodges
  • ◦   Accompanied by experienced wildlife guides and trackers
  • ◦   Two safari-activities per day (game drives, bush walks, night drives)
  • ◦   Local flight Hoedspruit to Johannesburg


Not included

  • ◦   International flights
  • ◦   Travel insurance
  • ◦   Personal expenditure
  • ◦   Medical expenditure (vaccinations, malaria tablets)
  • ◦   Tips & gratuities
  • ◦   All drinks (but prices are rather low. For example; a soft drink is about 1,5$)
  • ◦   Conservation levies. Private reserves ask for a small contribution per person and per vehicle,
  •       either payable at the gate or added to your bill at the end of your stay at every lodge.
  •       These are small amounts of 15 to 20$.
 
 

About international flights

 

There are uncountable ways to get to Johannesburg.

From EU: via Schiphol, Paris, Heathrow, or Frankfurt. Or using middle-eastern airlines (Qatar, Emirates, Etihad); via Doha or Dubai.

The latter are the cheapest (starting at around 500€ / 380£), and they deliver amazing quality; prices are lower because their governments subsidize them, not because they deliver sub-par quality. If you use them, what you have to watch out for is that you do not end up with too long stopovers in Doha/Dubai. And that those stopovers are not in the middle of the night.

There is no stopover-issue if you fly with British Airways, KLM, Lufthansa or Air France, in the sense that you get just one long flight (in one go all the way to Johannesburg), and this one is typically a red-eye. But they are a bit more expensive. Prices start at about 800€ / 610£, or 650€ if you are from Belgium (no direct Johannesburg-flight from Brussels means that all airlines from neighbouring countries compete for the Belgian customer).

From US (let's take JFK as airport of departure) the cheapest is Qatar airlines at about 850$. Again; watch out for long stopovers in Doha.

Also posible is South African airlines. They can take you directly from JFK to Johannesburg. Prices start at 1050$. Jetblue and United offer this too, but are more expensive (1270$ and 1670$ respectively). However, SA Airlines offers slightly lower quality.

Other options are Emirates, United and British Airways, with stopovers in respectively Dubai, Frankfurt and London. Prices starting between 1030$ and 1140$.

 
 

Additional info

 

There is a single supplement for any person traveling alone.

This trip can be extended to your wishes. For example, you can add a few days in the Drakensberg mountains to do the "Panorama Route". Extending with a beach stay in Mozambique is also very popular.