It is a small main camp and serves as an entrance gate to the central region. The scattered trees and wide open plains covered by sweet grass attract many browsers; this in turn attracts the eye-catching cheetah, lion and leopard.
The camp has recently been redeveloped, and has received a wonderful new pool overlooking a waterhole (SANParks intermittently use a webcam from here). New bungalows have been particularly well received.
Orpen offers 3 six-bed Guest Cottages, configured as two rooms with three beds each. One bedroom has a bathroom en-suite (bath, toilet, and washbasin), and there is a separate toilet, shower and wash basin. There are also 10 two-bed rondavels and 2 sleeping 3. All off these share kitchen and washing facilities.
There is a small, but well-stocked shop here, along with a petrol station.
The surrounding area offers excellent opportunities for game viewing. On the drive from Orpen to Satara herds of zebra and wildebeest graze next to the road, while giraffe, impala, warthog and elephant are common.
Turning off from this road to the Timbavati river northwards through pleasant scenery to Olifants camp, lion, cheetah and leopard are likely to be seen.
Orpen and the surrounding area is a good region for general bushveld ornithology, and 5 of the "Big Six" birds breed and are regularly seen in the area (the Pel's Fishing Owl is absent- see Olifants Restcamp for more on this bird).
The plains immediately east of Orpen Camp are one of the more reliable places to see the nomadic Senegal (Lesser Black-winged) Plover (search around the turn off to Tamboti and Marula satellite Camps). Montagu's Harrier has also been recorded on a few occasions in this grassland area.
White-faced and Comb (Knob-billed) Ducks, Little Grebe (Dabchick) and Lesser Moorhen breed in the flooded vegetation at Rabelais Pan. The Painted Snipe is on record as having bred here.
African Rail and African Crake are regularly recorded in the dense, marshy areas, particularly on the dirt roads around Talamati. These species are active early in the morning or late afternoon or on overcast, rainy days when they are foraging on the edge of the road. Fairfield Waterhole near Talamati is a regular haunt.
Yellow Billed Stork
Also just outside Talamati Camp Saddle-billed Stork breed. Of the other storks, Woolly-necked, Open-billed (African Openbill), White and Black may be seen, the latter two being locally common when food is abundant. Marabou Stork is regularly seen at the waterhole outside Orpen Camp.
The Orpen area hosts a wealth of raptors, especially in the summer months. Tawny (breeding outside of the camp), African Fish (at Rabelais Pan), Wahlbergs, Lesser Spotted, Steppe, African Hawk and Brown Snake Eagles, Bateleur, Black-shouldered Kite, Gabar and Dark Chanting Goshawk, Little Sparrowhawk and Amur and Red-footed Falcons (Eastern and Western Redfooted Kestrels) are all regularly seen. Less frequently seen are African Goshawk, Martial and Black-chested (breasted) Snake Eagles and African Harrier Hawk (Gymnogene).
Five vulture species may be seen in the area, although the Cape Griffin is least often observed despite a breeding colony near the Strydom Tunnel at Manoutsa.
Night drives, and dawn and dusk produce Pearl-spotted and African Barred Owlets, Scops, Verreaux’s (Giant) Eagle, Spotted Eagle and Barn Owl, as well as Fiery-necked, Square-tailed (Mozambiquan), Freckled and European Nightjars. Less common are Marsh and Grass Owl and Rufous-cheeked and Pennant-winged Nightjar.
Rarities to come out of the area include Plain-backed (Blue-throated) Sunbird at Orpen Camp, Long-crested Eagle on the Timbavati River, Olive Bush Shrike at Tamboti Camp and in the incredible wet season of 1999-2000 plenty of Black Coucal.
Standing in the dry open plains of the central area, it is permeated with the unhurried restfulness so characteristic of the bushveld. In camp, tall acacias and marula trees share the grounds with red bush willows, while small rock gardens overgrown with aloes and Barberton daisies separate the huts.