Balule is a private reserve straddling the major Olifants river to Kruger’s west. Characterised by rocky outcrops around the game-rich river, it is a particular haven for elephants. It is unfenced with the park. Animals roam freely. The reserve extends to 40,000 hectares (around 150 square miles). You will spend 3 days exploring it on foot in a group of no more than eight, with an armed guide and tracker, basing yourself in a fully-staffed mobile camp that follows you and your sightings around.
MOBILE TRAILS CAMP
You will stay in a mobile tented camp, pitched in a variety of locations depending on season. You walk; it magically follows you around. Dome sleeping tents are equipped with camp beds. Showers are in separate tents with hot water produced over the fire twice daily. A hand basin is for ablutions. Meals are around the fire, taken in a colonial explorer style with linen, glassware and cutlery, and are a treat under the cloak of the African night stars.
Central Kruger luxury
After your immersion in the bush, you are perfectly positioned for any of the lodges in the constellation surrounding Hoedspruit. Widen your horizon to explore Timbavati or the private lodge concessions of the Kruger. Here we present our selection according to the price and luxury of your choice.
DAY ONE: ARRIVE HOEDSPRUIT
Your safari begins when you fly or drive over the Drakensberg mountains to reach the bush town of Hoedspruit. You will be met at the airport or where the shuttle drops you at Three Bridges. There is secure parking here as you will need to leave your car if self-driving. You will be transferred to camp, where your bush adventure begins.
BIG FIVE ON FOOT
Spend three days working up a sweat exploring the eastern portion of Balule on foot. It is not a route march, and you will meander for 15 kilometres or so, interpreting and responding to the bush around you in pursuit of sightings. During the time you track the Big Five you can reasonably expect some encounters on foot with the more dangerous animals. Your guides are two in number and are experts in this pursuit. They are armed and are there to ensure your safety and that the animals do not feel threatened by you.
Camp is pitched in wild areas, and facilities are limited to what can be carried around and supplied in the middle of nowhere. Expect two nights of meals cooked on flames, and bush showers under a bag of water heated on the fire and hung from a tree. With the exercise from a decent amount of walking in reasonable heat, you will be dirty and tired, but hopefully exhilarated by the end. We prescribe some relaxation and a hot bath.
CHOOSE SOMETHING SPECIAL
After “roughing it” in the bush, it’s time for some luxury. We have selected these camps to represent a variety of styles and levels of indulgence. All are private and enjoy their own traversing of at least 100 sq km of excellent Big Five territory. All are accessible by road transfer from your bush camp. With luck, you may come across something really unusual!
After your final morning activity and brunch at the lodge of your choice, we will arrange for you to be returned to the airport of your choice for onward travel as required. Hoedspruit airport has two flights a day each to Johannesburg and Cape Town that are timed for lunchtime departures from the surrounding lodges. You may prefer a lodge-hopper service from the lodges that are further away.