Simbavati is a family-orientated safari lodge, situated in the Timbavati Private Game Reserve, which forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park. The lodge offers a choice of six luxury safari tents, two tented pool suites and three luxury, two-bedroom chalets, all air-conditioned, privately situated with en-suite facilities and ideal for those wanting to experience an authentic but affordable African safari experience. Open vehicle game drives afford guests great game viewing opportunities and a chance to see the Big 5, as well as the elusive white lion in its natural environment.

  • In the game-rich Timbavati Private Game Reserve
  • Within the Greater Kruger National Park
  • Luxury, affordable accommodation in safari tents or family chalets
  • Air-conditioning
  • Three sumptuous meals per day
  • Excellent game viewing
  • Dusk and dawn game drives
  • Family-friendly with special kids programme
  • Spa with in-room treatments available

Simbavati River Lodge is a small and intimate 4-star lodge with a picture-perfect setting on the banks of the Nhlaralumi River, in the heart of the world-famous Timbavati Private Nature Reserve.

Luxury safari accommodation

Shaded by huge, age-old trees, Simbavati is a warm and welcoming place, with breathtaking river views. The camp offers a choice of comfortable two-bedroom thatched chalets, luxury safari tents and two luxury glass-fronted pool suite tents, all with air-conditioning. The units are comfortably furnished with en-suite facilities (separate bath and shower, with either an outside bath/shower) and private viewing decks. The luxury safari tents and tented pool suites are spacious and modern, designed for your ultimate comfort and relaxation. The two tented pool suites each come with their own private plunge pool.

Gracious main lodge

The main lodge area includes an extensive open deck and dining area which gives you superb views of the wildlife visiting the river. You'll enjoy breakfast served here with hot beverages and a full English buffet; a lavish high tea before you set out for the afternoon game drive; and your dinner will be a sumptuous feast, served around the campfire in the open-air boma, under the African skies. Simbavati now also offers a relaxing spa with a range of traditional African massages and therapies, which you can also enjoy in the privacy of your room.

Excellent game viewing

The lodge offers excellent Big-5 game viewing, thanks to its stunning riverbank location. The Timbavati Game Reserve is next to the Kruger National Park; with no fences between it and the national park, the animals are free to roam. Timbavati is privately owned and the game-viewing vehicles are allowed to go off-road so that the experienced guides can take you as close as possible to exciting sightings of wildlife. Of course, the Timbavati Game Reserve is one of the few places in the world where you may be lucky enough to see the unique and rare white lion in its natural environment.

Daily game drives in open vehicles

Two game drives per day are included in the price (please note that bushwalks are no longer available at this lodge). At the ranger's discretion, younger children will be allowed to join their parents on game drives. You may also arrange exclusive use of game vehicles for your family or group. During the summer months (November to March) the bush is green and lush, birding is superb and there are loads of baby animals around, always an endearing time for game viewing. The dry months (April to October) make the bush more open; the grass is dry and trampled, there is less water available and more animals are forced to congregate at the waterholes, as well as the river right in front of the lodge, which has water for most of the year.

Family-friendly lodge

The lodge is popular with families because of its spacious chalets and entertaining kiddies' programme. There is no rigid pattern of children's safari activities at Simbavati; however, after breakfast, a ranger will be on hand to take any children in the camp for some exciting bush activities. Depending on the weather, the age of children and their interests, the activities will either be outdoors or in the lodge. These include adventures like treasure hunts, making the plaster cast of animal spoor and bird identification.

Getting there

By road - Simbavati River Lodge is roughly a 7-hour drive from Johannesburg.

By air - There are daily scheduled flights from OR Tambo International (Johannesburg) to Hoedspruit Airport and two flights weekly from Cape Town International Airport to Hoedspruit Airport.

Complimentary transfers from Hoedspruit Airport to the lodge take approximately 1 hour. These are scheduled at set times to coincide with scheduled flight arrivals and need to be booked separately. Other nearby airports include Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) in Nelspruit (approx 3-3½ hrs drive away) and Phalaborwa Airport (1½-2 hrs away). There is also a private airstrip within Timbavati for charter flights by prior arrangements. We can also arrange transfers from Hoedspruit or Johannesburg for you.

Our take on Simbavati River Lodge

We don't have any hesitation in recommending Simbavati River Lodge. As an affordable, tented safari camp, it's one of the best options in the greater Kruger National Park, in our opinion. You can look forward to a wonderful safari experience at Simbavati, with excellent food, great guiding and welcoming hospitality.

  • Luxury accommodation
  • Twice daily game drives in open Land Rovers (about 3 hours each)
  • Three excellent meals per day
  • Beverages (excluding premium brands and cellar wines)
  • Transport to/from the lodge and landing fees where applicable
  • Timbavati conservation and vehicle entrance fees
  • All other drinks
  • Personal expenses
  • Gratuities
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Kruger & Private Lodge Combo Safari
5 Day Kruger Park and Private Lodge Safari
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pp sharing

A guided safari in Kruger Park (using the national park camps) is quite different to a safari at a private game lodge. Both have their advantages. This trip idea combines two nights in Kruger, followed by two nights at a private game lodge for you to experience the best of both worlds. All game drives in open vehicles with expert and knowledgeable guides.

Timbavati Game Reserve
Timbavati Game Reserve
Greater Kruger Park

The Timbavati Game Reserve is most famous for its white lions, which are still spotted in this area from time to time. The Timbavati is a collection of privately-owned game reserves which share an unfenced boundary with the Kruger National Park. It is a vast Big 5 game reserve situated to the west of Kruger, and to the north of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. The bush and game viewing in the Timbavati is similar to what you will find in the Kruger National Park.