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Simbavati Hilltop Lodge has one of the finest settings in the Timbavati Private Game Reserve, an unfenced but private part of the Kruger Park. It’s perched on the hillside with wide angle views over the bush and views to the distant mountains of the Drakensberg escarpment. Below lie the expansive Mbali Dam and the Nhlaralumi River, where you may be lucky to see elephant, and other wildlife, come to quench their thirst.
Simbavati Hilltop Lodge has a light footprint, purposely designed so that it can be removed without leaving any lasting impact on the land. This luxurious tented lodge has a romantic, bright and airy ambience with 8 spacious tented suites connected by wooden walkways to the main lodge.
The Timbavati forms part of the Greater Kruger Park and offers exceptional game viewing including all the Big Five, most notably leopard, and also wild dog. Twice-daily game drives provide for close encounters with birds and animals, large and small.
8 luxurious tented rooms offer a choice or King or twin beds. Each suite has glorious views over the bushveld, the dam and the Nhlaralumi River. French doors open out onto an expansive viewing deck, each with its own private sala pavilion with double day bed for an afternoon read or snooze. The en-suite bathroom tent is connected to the bedroom tent via an open ‘breezeway’ or small passage. On the deck is a double ’rain’ shower with views over the dam. Note: Hilltop Lodge is not suitable for people who have difficulty with steps as each suite is accessed by a number of steps. However, two suites are considerably closer with fewer steps. So please mention any mobility issues when booking.
Game drives in the Klaserie take place in the early morning and late afternoon when the animals are naturally most active. Key to the experience is your English-speaking local guide. They bring their knowledge, experience and fresh observations to maximise your wildlife sightings. And not only in terms of how much you see. But how rewarding, informative and fun the overall experience is. Your guide may be a keen photographer and will be conscious and considerate if your mission is to capture sightings on camera.
You head out in an open-sided 4×4 game vehicle with three rows of comfortable bucket seats, generally with a maximum of 8 guests. This offers safe, yet close wildlife encounters. Guests sit up high for the best ‘spotting’ of birds and animals. There are no sides to inhibit your views and you naturally feel more in tune with nature. In the summer month, a shade top is added to protect against the African sun, but in winter it is open to the skies for the best bird-viewing and for stargazing.
A bush walk is a completely different way to experience the African bush. You gain a far greater sense of the landscape and how everything is inter-connected.
It is ideal for guests wanting to learn about the lesser-known aspects of the bush, up close and personal. Yes, there is always a chance of an encounter with one of the larger wildlife, but this is not the objective of a bush walk. Quiet observation from a safe distance is the order of the day.
Sunset drinks are an integral part to being on safari. Your guide chooses a suitable beautiful spot and you have time to climb off the vehicle to stretch your legs and enjoy a drink or two. Yes, it’s one of the iconic African memories of a safari. But that doesn’t mean that it won’t work its magic every time.
Several times a week, dinner in the camps is a more hearty, campfire style meal served under the stars in a ‘boma’, a circular enclosure originally made from branches. The cosy, lantern-lit ambience recalls the early days of safari pioneers.
Another authentic safari experience is dining out under the star in a boma (an enclosed circular dining area) around the campfire. This usually takes place every 2nd night. The gentle flicker of lanterns, candle-light and a welcoming open fire truly conjures up what is magical about a safari.