Timbavati is a 53 000-hectare private game reserve which sits on the western boundary of the Kruger National Park. It boasts an astonishing game diversity and offers the opportunity for nature lovers to see the Big 5.
The Reserve was founded in the 1950s when conservationists decided to transform failed farmland into a private game reserve. This incredible success story continued with the dropping of the fences between the private reserve and the famous Kruger National Park to allow the area to form part of a much larger sanctuary. It was, however, the White Lions of the Timbavati that shot this reserve into world acclaim in the 1970s, as people clambered from around the world to visit it in the hope of a glimpse of these rare animals.
Set on this private game reserve bordering Kruger National Park, is this month’s property of the month. This upscale, all-inclusive lodge overlooks a wildlife watering hole and is the essence of pioneering Kruger history combined with sumptuous luxury in a family-friendly environment.
Ngala Safari Camp is 15 000 hectares of the epic and exclusive Kruger National Park. Tracking an endangered white rhino, through the green summer grass on a golden misty morning allows the ancient African wilderness to restore your soul. Scrumptious pan-African cuisine tantalises your palate on the deck overlooking the camp waterhole or in the boma suspended under the Milky Way’s heavenly canopy.
The exquisite camp
andBeyond Ngala Safari Lodge is nestled in the shade of a cool green mopane forest infused with an atmosphere of rich history and the ultimate tranquillity of the African wild. The 21 exquisite thatched cottages are appointed to conjure the inspiration of the brave early naturalists who were so awed by this stunning area. The cottages boast opulent, spacious bathrooms, a bedroom with every possible comfort and a cosy seating area from which to enjoy a sherry or a book about the wonders of Africa.
Each cottage has its own perfectly secluded veranda, shaded by the aromatic mopane woodland that touches the air with a subtle spicy scent. Absorb the peace of the midday on the veranda; sip your favourite cocktail while the glossy starlings and chuckling hornbills forage in the woodland. Alternatively, laze in the crystal waters of the pool overlooking the waterhole where thirsty elephants shake their thirst shaded by an ancient Tamboti tree.
In the middle of the day, browse the extensive collection of Africana – books, jewellery, clothes and tasteful artefacts in the curio shop. Outside the shop, absorb the primordial tranquillity of the Kruger in the sublime calm of the outdoor lounge in the gilded shade of three old fever trees.
At tea time, take refuge in the coolth of the sumptuous lounge and watch a herd of 250 buffalo wind their way down the water’s edge – bulls to roll in the glorious mud, calves to frolic in the shallows.
A true wilderness
Out in the wild, Ngala offers the wildest Kruger experience. The reserve is 15 000 spectacular hectares of exclusive wilderness bisected by the iconic Timbavati River. This ageless river’s picturesque banks are dominated by forests of African giants – mahogany, ebony, fig and boer bean – where Ngala’s confiding leopard find refuge in the deep green and elephants wait out the lazy heat of the lowveld midday. Away from the Timbavati, herds of 600 buffalo gather at the waterholes in the ginger dusk. On the floodplains, prides of up to 25 lions rouse, black-maned males roaring, cubs cavorting in the twilight, lionesses stretching before heading into the night to hunt. As the soft light of the African dawn touches the eastern horizon, and the last hyaena whoops fade into the passing night, packs of wild dogs course onto the clearings to hound the abundant plains game gathered to graze.
Ngala wilderness activities include adventurous dawn and dusk game drives and gentle walks from camp in the middle of the day. For those wanting to truly communicate with this ancient land, tracking walks in the misty morning to find a white rhino is the ultimate wilderness experience. An experienced ranger and tracker team leads you into the morning on the trail of an endangered white rhino – an experience that will, enchant, re-awaken and enthral every sense.
Fantastic for families
Ngala is specially equipped to offer safe African adventures to children without sacrificing sophisticated luxury and relaxation for parents. The lavish family suite has its own huge pool overlooking the Mapona River, two spacious bedrooms, and a dedicated game ranger. This is ideal for younger families because activities in the wild can be tailor-made to suit the needs of the whole family. The superb cottages are also situated such that parents and children can be close to each other.
The cuisine at Ngala is as pan-African – flavours and ingredients are drawn from the most gastronomically renowned regions of the continent. You could expect grilled beef from the highveld, succulent vegetables and sweet citrus from the lowveld, seared yellow-tail from the Indian Ocean and Arabian spices all the way from Morocco.
Breakfast and lunch are served overlooking the waterhole and its daily procession of exciting visitors. For dinner, Ngala boasts an impressive boma, centred on a roaring fire, overhung by the cascading African stars and the branches of a huge fever tree where roosting baboons are frequent observers. Dinner in the courtyard bathed by the soft light of 100 golden lanterns, candelabra and crystal glasses gives a sense of the colonial opulence of a bygone era.