Balule Private Game Reserve is a collection of private game farms and reserves with no fences between them, allowing for the free movement of game throughout the 2 million hectare Greater Kruger conservation area. The perennial Olifants River flows through the centre of the reserve, which attracts a wide variety of wildlife to this plentiful water supply.
- Shares unfenced borders with Greater Kruger conservancy
- Excellent value-for-money: not as famous as its neighbours, yet offers same game-rich experience
- Diverse scenery, more interesting than some of the other parks
- Near the escarpment, offers majestic views of Drakensberg
- Big 5 game reserve
- Olifants River attracts a variety of wildlife all year round
Balule Private Game Reserve is a large Big Five game reserve. It forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park as a huge, unfenced wildlife conservancy where the animals are allowed unrestricted movement over more than two million hectares.
Olifants River Runs Through It
The mighty Olifants River runs through the centre of Balule Private Game Reserve, attracting a large number of wildlife throughout the year, and especially in the dry season which falls in the South African winter from June to August. A Big 5 reserve (elephant, buffalo, lion, and sometimes rhino and leopard), Balule also offers occasional sightings of cheetah, wild dog and hyena as well as the big plains animals like giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, zebra and various antelope species. The Olifants River teems with hippo and crocodile. Of course, birdlife is also prolific at Balule.
Not as well known as some of the older private reserves, Balule offers an excellent safari experience with plentiful game, by virtue of the perennial Olifants River. While the game viewing here is a little less consistent than in the more famous Timbavati or Sabi Sand reserves, here you can enjoy more diverse scenery in less crowded game driving conditions. Balule Private Game Reserve is not far from the escarpment and you can get glimpses of the mighty Drakensberg mountains in the distance.
Life at Balule is slow and unhurried. From game drives to bush walks and relaxing at superb safari lodges. In the evenings, you'll generally enjoy a bushveld boma dinner beneath a star-studded sky. Away from any large cities, the night sky at Balule is breathtaking, and you'll be able to see constellations you've only ever heard of.
Balule Private Game Reserve is a five- to six-hour drive from Johannesburg. By air, Balule can be reached via Hoedspruit's Eastgate Airport, or via Phalaborwa Airport.
Our take on Balule
Balule is uncrowded and offers good value for money. The game viewing is sometimes excellent and sometimes disappointing, in our experience. Birding is good. The scenery is attractive and there are some superb safari lodges to choose from.
Ku Sungula is a comfortable and affordable safari lodge in the western part of Balule Game Reserve.
Naledi Bush Camp is a small, upmarket safari lodge offering affordable luxury in the Balule Reserve.
Sausage Tree Safari Camp is a small but highly rated safari camp in the Balule Game Reserve.
Ezulwini Billy's Lodge is an elegant safari lodge situated in the Balule Reserve.
Ezulwini River Lodge overlooks the Olifants river in the heart of the Balule Game Reserve.
nDzuti is a small, authentic safari camp in the Maseke Game Reserve, just north of Balule, part of the Greater Kruger Park.
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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.
Mohlabetsi Safari Lodge in the Balule Game Reserve within the Greater Kruger National Park is affordable and intimate and offers comfortable accommodation in African-style thatched rondavels and family units. The lodge has beautiful lawns and giant trees and overlooks the bush and a distant waterhole.
Pondoro Game Lodge is a small, owner-managed, luxury game lodge situated on the banks of the Olifants River in the 40 000 ha exclusive Balule Game Reserve, a big 5 game reserve which forms part of the greater Kruger National Park. Pondoro offers luxury chalets and suites and is excellent value for money.