Timbavati Safari

Lying on the Kruger National Park's unfenced western boundary and flanked by the private Thornybush and  reserves, Timbavati is a 53 000 hectare private nature reserve that ranks among the region's most successful conservation stories. Created in the 1950s to rehabilitate degraded farmland, the environment is now fully restored and teeming with wildlife.

It's classic Big 5 safari territory and also home to a small population of lions carrying a rare recessive gene that gives rise to the so-called 'white lions of Timbavati'. Expertly guided dawn and early afternoon game drives are conducted daily, and since Timbavati is a private Kruger reserve, guests at the half dozen or so lodges are treated to activities that are not allowed in the Kruger National Park such as off-road driving for premium sightings, exciting spot-lit night drives, and guided nature walks - ideal for birdwatchers to tick off some of the 360 bird species recorded in the reserve.

The best time to visit Timbavati is usually during the dry May to September winter season when temperatures are at their lowest and the game viewing the easiest. The heat and aridity build up in October and November as the rains approach; animals are clustered around water sources and game viewing is superb but it's often extremely hot. The summer rains between December and April transform Timbavati into a green paradise - expect sensational birding and plenty of baby animals, favourite prey items for the many Timbavati predators.

Excellent safari accommodation is available in the Timbavati Game Reserve - speak to your African Safari Expert to make sure you choose the right lodge for your requirements. There are family-friendly lodges, exclusive honeymoon suites and no-frills mobile adventure camps on offer but standard to all are great comfort and facilities, friendly, can-do service and fine dining.

Although accessible by road - Timbavati is a half-day's drive from Johannesburg - many visitors choose to fly in. The reserve is close to the local Hoedspruit Airport as well as Kruger International in Nelspruit which is served by direct flights from Cape Town, Johannesburg and Mozambique's Vilanculos - gateway to the Bazaruto Archipelago. Such convenient logistics means it's simple to combine a beach holiday with a Timbavati Big 5 safari - just ask us how.

Kelly-Anne Blanchard

Africa Safari Expert

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