High on a kopje in the wild northern part of South Africa, as if set there by Mother Nature herself, lies the Simbavati Hillside Lodge. Here, under the limitless sky, eight tents – each with their own deck and en suite tented bathroom – allow a private safari of your own. There are no fences between the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve and the vast Kruger National Park, giving game more than 20 000km² to roam freely. This is Big 5 country and, with your guide and Shangaan tracker, a stay at Simbavati Hilltop Lodge almost guarantees you will see them all. Keep your eyes peeled for the rarer wild dogs and cheetahs, and for the rarer still white lions. At Simbavati, you can see these extraordinary blue-eyed, white-coated creatures roaming and roaring in their natural habitat. The resident lion prides of Timbavati carry a unique recessive gene that is responsible for this unusual anomaly, and two white lions have been born in the reserve. After your morning game drive, slip into the infinity pool, with its views all the way to the foothills of the Drakensberg; then, as the sun reaches its zenith opt for a well-earned siesta or catch up with fellow travellers in the 360° bar or lounge. Later, when the afternoon cools, follow your tracker on foot as the animals come out of the shadows and drink their fill before nightfall.
Shangaan trackers expertly direct you to the best game viewing but if you prefer a day of relaxation, you can watch the animals wander down to the Nhlaralumi River from your sun lounger on the deck. The infinity swimming pool, covered outdoor poolside lounge and 360° bar offer every opportunity for game viewing from the lodge's vantage point on the hill. In the lounge, play a board game or read a book. There is Wi-Fi but limited cellphone reception; this is truly downtime and perfect for a much-needed ‘digital detox’.
All the extras are available, including plenty of power points to charge your camera, air conditioning and heating. A special feature is the adapted photographic vehicles, with four swivel seats, camera mountings and low sides for maximum photographic opportunities, with camera equipment for hire at the lodge.