Many people are attracted here not only by the stunning views, but by the innovative activities that this camp has put together.
Olifants is the one of a few Restcamps from which you can depart on a Wilderness Backpacking Trail where, unlike with the excellent Kruger Wilderness Trails, you carry all that you need for the 4 day, 3 night, 42km hike with you. This includes tents, food, water and swimming trunks for the inevitable dips in the Olifants River. Check out our Discussion Board for some early reviews.
The only mountain bike trails in the Kruger are also here at Olifants, and resemble guided walks in that their principal focus is on interpreting nature (wildlife sightings and interesting signs). These bike trails are dealt with in a separate section.
Olifants also offers unique stargazing evenings, where a presentation on the southern hemisphere skies and African star lore is followed by night-sky viewing through a large telescope. This activity also includes sunset and night game drives from Olifants Rest Camp to a remote site on the river bank where the telescope is set up for the evening.
In addition to the usual large shop and petrol station, there is a swimming pool (new as of 2014), and a Mugg and Bean cafeteria with good food and wonderful cakes.
Olifants has a wide range of accommodation, offering 2, 3 or 4 bed units, equipped with ablutions (most with showers, but some with baths). All have air-conditioning. Some units have kitchenettes while others have communal kitchens. Some are located on the perimeter edge with a wonderful vista of the river below.
Nshawu and Lebombo sponsored Guest Houses both have eight beds and are situated in exclusive locations with a wonderful view. Both are fully equipped with four 2-bed bedrooms (ask if you want a double bed), en-suite bathrooms, kitchen, lounge, dining room, several lookout decks and a television.
The Olifants area plays host to most of the Kruger National Park’s classic larger game. As the name of the camp suggests, elephant are common in the area. Baboon and vervet monkey both inhabit the camp, as do fruit bats and thick-tailed bush babies at night. Lion and leopard are regularly seen on game drives. Cape clawless otters have been seen from the Olifants lookout point on the gravel road to Letaba.
Two birds to look out for on the Olifants River are White-fronted Plover and White-crowned Lapwing (Plover), both of which can be seen in the riverbed. The bridges on the main tarred road and at Balule are the places to look for these species.
Search the riparian trees on the Olifants River near Balule for the Pel’s Fishing-Owl. It is occasionally seen on night drives from the low level bridge here, while it has also been seen infrequently from the high level bridge on the main tar road. This low level bridge adjacent to Balule is an extremely productive venue. During the day one will get close encounters with several stork, heron and kingfisher species while the lure of the Fishing Owl by night is a big incentive. A White-backed night heron is also sometimes seen here.
Camp bird-life in Olifants, like all camps, is busy. Red-winged Starlings are particularly prominent. Trumpeter Hornbills and Acacia Pied Barbet are regularly seen in camp, and when the many aloe plants in camp are in flower, they act as a magnet for sunbirds. Rufous-bellied Heron have been recorded on the Olifants River a little downstream of the camp. Unconfirmed reports of Woodward’s Batis offer an exciting possibility .
Olifants is situated in rugged veld on rhyolite/ basalt soil. Lowveld cluster-leaf, raisin bush and mopane are all prominent in the area. Just south of the river is the transition zone between thornveld and the mopane belt; these different regimes prevail throughout the south and the north of the Kruger repsectively from here.
In the camp itself there is a plethora of trees and plants, some of which are scarce elsewhere in the Kruger National Park. A variety of aloe species are a real highlight. Next to the filling station there is a sesame bush. This is probably the only accessible place in the Kruger National Park where it can be seen. In early spring the sjambok pod (yellow flowers) and weeping boer bean (red flowers) are both in bloom so the veld is a contrast of colour. Also look out for tree euphorbia.
- Read a review of an Olifants Camp Sunset Game Drive from the South African Independent
- Read an early review of the Olifants Mountain Bike trails, also from the Independent.