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... the bush, done properly   

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Timbavati and Manyeleti are two of the longest established Private Reserves adjoining the Kruger National Park, with which they are unfenced. The bush has had more than fifty years to return to a natural state after historic attempts to settle and develop it for cattle ranching and other agricultural purposes were defeated by a number of factors including sleeping sickness, malaria and variable levels of water.

Map of the Timbavati and Manyeleti Reserves, Greater Kruger Park

Today these Reserves are an important part of the Greater Kruger National Park. Game is free to move freely to utilise the land, and development levels are lower than, say, in the Sabi Sand, where there are more private landowners (Timbavati consists of only fifty contiguous land titles). Timbavati is particularly well known for its white lions, large herds of elephant and buffalo, and the frequent presence of wild dogs.

Cape Buffalo herd at a Timbavati waterhole

Both Timbavati and Manyeleti have relatively few large commercial properties. Between these two Reserves, there are less than twenty exclusive Private Lodges accessible to the public. Some other Greater Kruger game lodge are have relatively small properties and share traversing with their commercial neighbours. This can lead to crowded wildlife sightings and the often-present sounds and lights of the many open safari vehicles during game drives.

Elsewhere bush walks are usually conducted mid-morning after brunch when there are no game drive vehicles to encounter to prevent spoiling the experience for both walkers and those on the open vehicle. Both the Timvabati and Manyeleti are less developed and have quite limiting agreements with the neighbours, keeping vehicle density low so you may easily encounter no other people or safari vehicles for the duration of your stay.

Timbavati campfire
Reflecting after a day on Trail in the Timbavati

Because of the fewer, larger properties, Lodges such as Bateleur, with its small Main Camp and exclusive Mobile Camp operation, pride themselves on their flexibility, particularly for those wanting to undertake extensive guided bush walks or pursue leads in the bush to fruition (e.g., earlier sightings of lion cubs some distance away).

These Reserves, with their solitude and flexibility, are particularly well suited to Photographic Safaris.

Timbavati, "The Place Where Something Sacred Came Down to Earth", and Manyeleti ("Place of the Stars"), both offer a wide variety of accommodation from basic rustic tented camps to great luxury.

Unusual design of Simbavati Hiltop LodgeUnusual design at Simbavati Hilltop

Highly recommended

  • Off-road driving is permitted in these Reserves, allowing Guides to take you in to the deep bush to follw up on Big Five sightings
  • Both Reserves are lightly developed; te very low density of commercial operations makes drives (and particularly walking) a true wilderness experience
  • Proper night drives are permitted unlike in other Reserves where consideration of your (rather closer) neighbouring Lodges makes this highly unusual

Don't miss

  • The tranquility and solitude of a Walking Safari in unspoiled wilderness


  • Timbavati features in our Of Kings and Beasts Safaris, as well as a number of fly-in options.