​User Reviews – Timbavati NR

Sort By: Date Most Helpful Rating 1-10 of 26 Reviews
guybaxendale   –  
United Kingdom UK
Visited: April 2011 Reviewed: Aug 14, 2012

Email guybaxendale  |  20-35 years of age  |  Experience level: over 5 safaris

Honeymoon in Timbavati
Overall rating

My wife and I stayed at Tanda Tula Safari camp in Timbavati nature reserve for our honeymoon last April.

To give you some background as to what I benchmark Timbavati against i worked in a Safari lodge in Kenya in the past and have been on Safari in Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

The abundance of wildlife in Timbavati is exceptional and we saw the 'Big Five' twice over during our four day stay and plenty of plains game and birdlife. The food at Tanda Tula was excellent, particularly the bush breakfast. Our guide spoke perfect English and was extremely knowledgeable about the area and its wildlife.

For safari first timers that want to see the 'big five' this is without a doubt the best area I have ever been to. However, for people who have seen a bit of Africa you may feel that you are slightly part of a 'machine' and that the guides feel an obligation who need to 'tick off' the big five for each and every guest. The guides radio to each other constantly when they find game which means that you absolutely will get to see the animals. They have a 'queuing system' to see them as they maintain a policy of only two jeeps viewing at any one time to minimise stress on the animals (an excellent policy). This is not true true African wilderness and so i suppose the bush vibe cannot be expected to be 100% authentic but it was the only slight negative for me. My wife had been on safari once before and i think felt it slightly less than me.

Tommy   –  
United States US
Visited: August 2011 Reviewed: May 22, 2012

under20 years of age  |  Experience level: first safari

The perfect experience for anyone wanting to experience the South African Bush.
Overall rating

The Timbavati Nature Reserve is truly one of the best places to go for safaris in South Africa. Its borders are massive thanks to collaborations between the previous owners of the land. Located next to Kruger National Park, it is easy to combine the two reserves on one trip for both safari experiences. I was 15 when I went to Timbavati in 2011 and stayed at the Umlani Game Reserve. My experience couldn't have been more incredible. The staff is incredibly friendly and the group is small so it is easy to get to know everyone there. Our guides were excellent as well and really seemed to have a strong knowledge of the bush as well as a passion for their jobs.
The food at Umlani was incredible as well- It was by far the best out of our month-long trip. Some of our meals included a delicious sweet potato and butternaut squash soup, casseroles, full english breakfasts, various meats, impala stew (try it!), and of course rusks. I was at Umlani during the Winter so the weather was nice although it had rained a few days before we arrived.
The wildlife was beyond anything that I had expected. We encountered all of the big 5 many times and saw a huge variety of animals. My group was fortunate enough to see a lion kill as well as enormous herds of Cape Buffalo. The elephants were everywhere and seemed to not care about our proximity to them.
Umlani is located next to a water hole so that viewing animals is still possible in between game drives. About a mile away is another water hole where interested guests can stay in a tree house for the night! Thanks to encouragement from the staff, I summoned my courage and spent one night in a tree house in the bush.
Overall, The Timbavati Nature Reserve and Umlani specifically is the best place to go to experience the South African Bush. There are friendly staff members, good food, knowledgeable guides, beautiful scenery, and of course lots of wildlife to observe. I don't often check 5 stars in all categories but Umlani deserves it. Too see videos from my trip, visit http://www.youtube.com/user/futbol7t/featured. Make sure to make Timbavati and Umlani part of your trip.

Amy Visited: July 2014 Reviewed: Apr 20, 2015

Down-to-earth but comfortable bush experience! Amazing Wildlife!
Overall rating

We had an amazing time in Timbavati. It was our first introduction to the South African bush, and it was
truly amazing. We stayed at Shindzela Tented Camp. The small size of the camp makes for an intimate experience, and you have a chance to meet and make friends with the guides, as well as other guests from around the world. The tents are extremely comfortable, providing everything you need. Our guide, Eugene, and tracker, Guyane (spelling?) were outstanding. They were a great team, and their knowledge and skill resulted in some extremely close encounters with wildlife.

The game viewing at Timbavati was outstanding. During our transfer drive into the reserve, we saw a herd of elephants, including babies! During game drives, we saw lions on a recent kill, got very close to elephants, hyenas, giraffe, you name it. Being able to continue the game drives after dark is also amazing, hearing a lion roar after dark, spotting honey badgers and a jackal were all highlights once the sun set.

The overall experience and atmosphere at Timbavati was exactly what we were looking for, and better. If
you are looking for a rustic, yet comfortable, true bush experience, this is your place. We are already
talking about going back in the future, and staying more than 2 nights!!

Jonathan Visited: October 2014 Reviewed: Apr 11, 2015

Tanda Tula Private Game Reserve a unique and simply wonderful life experience
Overall rating

My family and I all enjoyed a holiday of a life time during our 5 day stay at Tanda Tula game reserve within Timbavati Nature reserve. The tented accommodation exceeded expectations, with wonderful views of the wildlife from our own veranda. A real family atmosphere amongst the Tanda Tula team is evident, the food simply amazing, the local music and dancing truly captures the essence of the mood of wild Africa. The attention to detail and customer service from the team within the camp is simply world class. The guides (Foremen and Given in our case) are wonderful people, friendly, extremely knowledgable and are willing to tailor the drives to your individual requests. We completed a total of 12 drives during our time along with a number of short safari walks. I am sure some luck was on our side as we were privileged to witness a number of rare sightings, such as honey badgers, african wild cat and a leopard stalk which ended in a successful kill. Weather was fantastic during our time not too hot during the day and comfortable during the evening. Overall an amazing experience!

Bill Siviter   –  
United Kingdom UK
Visited: May 2012 Reviewed: Oct 8, 2012

50-65 years of age  |  Experience level: first safari

An amazing experience
Overall rating

I had a one day safari with a very experienced guide. I saw every animal I expected to see and more besides. I wasn'r realistically expecting to see cheetah in the southern part of the park and would have been fortunate to see leopard on my first visit. The highlight for me was not one but two separate packs of African Wild Dog which I wasn't expecting to see at all.
The animal and bird life I saw in one day was profuse and I took over six hundred photographs.
The Rissington Inn Hotel in Hazyview where I stayed was excellent. The accomodation was of a high standard as was the food.
Altogether a great experience which eclipsed all my other adventures in the Grand Canyon and Tokyo or Hong Kong.
Visitors to the southern part of the park must expect the heavy cover which is commonplace and not expect the open grasslands of say Kenya.
We hired a car from the airport at Joburg and the drive though tiring after our flight was easy even though some SA road signs are ambiguous or non existant in places. It is my second time in SA I loved my visit to the Cape and the wine tour I took but big game close up is an experience I wouldn't have missed for the world.

Marleen   –  
Netherlands NL
Visited: August 2007 Reviewed: Apr 11, 2012

Email Marleen  |  50-65 years of age

Overall rating

We were on a nightdrive, but saw only a few animals. The guide stopped at a fence where we could see the famous white lions.

Mary   –  
United Kingdom UK
Visited: October 2023 Reviewed: Nov 21, 2023

Email Mary  |  65+ years of age  |  Experience level: 2-5 safaris

Overall rating

The River Lodge which we stayed in was very good, but overall we were surprised that there weren't more animals in the Reserve, yet we did see all the Big 5. At the Lodge, we had elephants walking by our tented suite and one even drank from our plunge pool. Also had hyenas and monkeys close by.

Dominic   –  
United Kingdom UK
Visited: August 2023 Reviewed: Aug 30, 2023

Email Dominic  |  50-65 years of age  |  Experience level: first safari

Overall rating

Winter safari, so the bush is dry and water levels are low. The bush is not beautiful but the animals and the setting is brilliant. Being a private game reserve means fewer vehicles who can go off track so you get a better safari experience. We saw pretty much everything on our wish list and so much more besides, combined with a brilliant guide and tracker in fantastic bush accommodation

Atle Fossmark   –  
Norway NO
Visited: November 2022 Reviewed: Dec 25, 2022

Email Atle Fossmark  |  65+ years of age  |  Experience level: first safari

Overall rating

Exceptional !!

David Gryzick   –  
United States US
Visited: September 2022 Reviewed: Oct 9, 2022

Email David Gryzick  |  50-65 years of age  |  Experience level: first safari

Overall rating

Timbavati strength was it had a lot of lion prides and it had rhinos with horns. It had an incredible amount of elephants and giraffes. It's weakness was it lacked hippos.

Average User Rating

  • 4.7/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star 20
  • 4 star 5
  • 3 star 1
  • 2 star 0
  • 1 star 0
Write a User Review