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Kruger private reserves + Mashatu

 

This trip


A 16-day safari for the die-hards of which 12 days in the Greater Kruger Area - from south to north - followed by 4 days in Mashatu Botswana.



In a nutshell

Number of nights:

Lodges:




Price:







International flights:


16

Umkumbe (4 nights)
Shindzela (4 nights)
nThambo (4 nights)
Mashatu Tented Camp (4 nights)

Vanaf 58.500 Rand / 4.375 $ / 3.445 £ / 4.045 € per persoon
Includes local flight from Johannesburg to Nelspruit and back
Includes local flight from Johannesburg to Polokwane and back
Includes inter-lodge transfers

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
  • ◦   Supplimented with Mashatu in Botswana's Tuli block, an eco-tourism spot for the connoisseurs
  • ◦   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
  • ◦   All local flights and transfers included
  • ◦   Can easily be extended with Drakensberg mountains or Mozambique beach holiday
 



Lodges


 
 
 

Umkumbe

 
 
 
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We’re starting this trip with 4 nights in Umkumbe safari lodge which is located in the Sabi Sand Wildtuin, considered by many to be the premier wildlife reserve. Located on the banks of the seasonal Sand river, it invites for long relaxation sessions; ideal to recover from your long international flight.

From the lodge’s terrace you often get to see nyari (buffalo), en ndlopfu (elephant) which come to feed from the soft grass and quench their thirst at the river. Close to the river is a sunning deck and an infinity pool.

Breakfast and lunch are served at the thatched main area where you still have the great view on the river. Behind that is a building which hosts the reception, gift shop and lounge as well as the boma, where dinner is served around a camp fire.

The lodge consists of ten chalets/rooms with most overlooking the Sand River. They have been refurbished in 2010 and superior rooms have been added (ask how much the supplement is when you want to book such a room).
 
 
 
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Umkumbe only has a small area to drive on (less than 1000Ha), but its location and price make up for that. Just compare the prices with those of the surrounding lodges; Mala Mala, Singita, Londolozi, Sabi Sabi. They have prices of 500 to1000 USD per person per night. Or more! By the way, Sabi Sands is known for its close encounters with very relaxed leopards.

But how does one explain the price difference? Well, Herman en Celeste (see picture above) have their own approach. Buying traverse from the neighbours would mean they have to increase their prices. Instead they have decided to just drive on their own plot. That wouldn’t work in most places, but here it does. Just because of their location and the fact that their plot is not too small. And also because Herman en Celeste are the owners of this piece of land compared to most most lodges where the land is leased.

This is an important fact as it allows them to bend the rules a bit and offer a personalised experience. For example, if you want Herman lets you sit on the tracker’s seat to give you a “first row” experience at any sighting you come across!
 
 
 
 

Shindzela

 
 
 
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Shindzela safari 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 tented safari 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 tented safari camp.  They also managed to pursuade legendary guide Johan Smalman to join them.

Shindzela tented safari 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 tented safari camp; their chef's ability to create awesome meals with simple ingrediënts and served with pride!

 
 
 
 

nThambo

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

Mashatu Tented Camp

 
 
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A 30 minute vehicle transfer from Mashatu Main Camp is a refuge that is very different. The Mashatu Tent Camp is almost one with the environment; blink and you might miss it! This tented camp is the leisure choice for the guest who seeks the ultimate one-on-one bush experience and who prefers a more intimate environment (and no children under the age of 12).

Eight completely private tents are tucked under the branches of enormous trees, accessible via meandering pathways. The tents themselves are spacious and comfortable and large enough that adults need not duck to move around in. Each is mounted on a concrete platform and has its own private outdoor en-suite facilities, including W.C. and outdoor shower. Imagine showering under the stars!

 
 
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Instant camaraderie is the norm at this unique camp. Meal times are shared without pomp and ceremony, either in the open-air thatched gazebo, or in the boma (enclosure) overlooking the floodlit, well-populated waterhole. The camp’s plunge pool invites guests to cool off and escape the relentless heat typical of the summer months.

The sturdy and shaded hide also overlooks the waterhole, and here bush enthusiasts can sit quietly and witness animals going about their day, completely unaware that they are being watched. It is humbling indeed to be an observer, to be part of the perfect, natural world.

Those who have stayed at Mashatu also often return; especially for the cheetahs, hyena’s and elephants which are found there in abundance. But also for the many grazers and other mammals. And then we haven’t talked about the birds yet! The semi-dry landscape makes it easier to see and photograph the animals.
 
 
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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






Day 16






Day 17






Day 18




Day 19

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


Morning; arrival in Johannesburg
Noon: flight from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit and transfer to Umkumbe Lodge
Namiddag: game drive in Sabi Sands Reserve
Evening: night drive in Sabi Sands reserve
Dinner and overnight at Umkumbe Lodge


Morning; game drive in Sabi Sands Reserve and breakfast
Noon; relax at the lodge and a light lunch
Namiddag: game drive in Sabi Sands Reserve
Evening: night drive in Sabi Sands reserve
Dinner and overnight at Umkumbe Lodge


Morning; game drive in Sabi Sands Reserve and breakfast
Noon; relax at the lodge and a light lunch
Namiddag: game drive in Sabi Sands Reserve
Evening: night drive in Sabi Sands reserve
Dinner and overnight at Umkumbe Lodge


Morning; game drive in Sabi Sands Reserve and breakfast
Noon; relax at the lodge and a light lunch
Namiddag: game drive in Sabi Sands Reserve
Evening: night drive in Sabi Sands reserve
Dinner and overnight at Umkumbe Lodge


Morning; game drive in Sabi Sands Reserve and 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: breakfast and transfer to Nelspruit airport
Noon: flight from Nelspruit to Johannesburg and flight from Johannesburg to Polokwane
Afternoon: transfer to Mashatu Tented Camp
Evening; night drive in Mashatu reserve followed by dinner
Overnight at Mashatu Tented Camp


Morning: game drive in Mashatu Reserve followed by breakfast
Noon: relax in camp and have a light lunch
Afternoon: transfer to Mashatu Tented Camp
Evening; night drive in Mashatu reserve followed by dinner
Overnight at Mashatu Tented Camp


Morning: game drive in Mashatu Reserve followed by breakfast
Noon: relax in camp and have a light lunch
Afternoon: transfer to Mashatu Tented Camp
Evening; night drive in Mashatu reserve followed by dinner
Overnight at Mashatu Tented Camp


Morning: game drive in Mashatu Reserve followed by breakfast
Noon: relax in camp and have a light lunch
Afternoon: transfer to Mashatu Tented Camp
Evening; night drive in Mashatu reserve followed by dinner
Overnight at Mashatu Tented Camp


Morning: breakfast and transfer to Polokwane
Afternoon: flight naar Johannesburg
Evening: International flight home


Morning/noon: arrival in EU/UK/US

 
 

Included / not included

 

Included

  • ◦   Local flights Johannesburg to Hoedspruit and back
  • ◦   Local flights Johannesburg to Polokwane and back
  • ◦   All accommodation as summarized above
  • ◦   All activities as summarized above
  • ◦   All meals in the lodges
  • ◦   Accompanied by experienced wildlife guides and trackers
  • ◦   Two safari-activities per day (game drives, bush walks, night drives)


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.