Timbavati Safari Trip Review

When we were at Umlani camp in Timbavati they found some wild dogs which were quite a rare sighting and we followed them for a long way and they were hunting some impala so that was really good. We were absolutely thrilled with that.

Table of Contents
Wildlife spotting highlights
Tips and advice
Most useful item

How was the accommodation?

Well, the accommodation in the Kruger was really good, quite surprised.

It was in a tented camp at Orpen Gate, and we were in the more deluxe tents which had their own en-suite facilities.

I was really quite surprised at how good the quality was there, because you know it had a fridge and all that sort of thing and electricity, fans and stuff like that as well as a shower and all the toilet facilities that you need. So that was really good.

At Umlani in Timbavati Game Reserve it was a bit different. I mean, they were sort of like huts, very rustic, no electricity. But you were very well looked after because the staff did everything for you basically and they did all your food. There is a sort of bathroom, shower you know toilet, it's part of the hut, you just didn't have any electric lights or anything, but they lit these paraffin lamps every night for you when you got back from your game drive, so that was good fun.

What was the food like?

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At Umlani in Timbavati - ooh - you could order what you wanted - scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, beans - you know the usual. They had fresh fruit, toast and cereals, the works really!

We had lunch and dinner. The lunches were sort of a lighter version of quite a heavy dinner. They were both cooked and salads for lunch. Dinner they had a vegetarian option, but you didn't order anything special, it was whatever came but they were very good quality, very nice food indeed. Very well cooked.

What would you say your wildlife spotting highlights were?

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We found a herd of elephants with loads and loads of babies, so that was quite good. And we could then see why everybody was saying there's too many elephants, there were a huge number of babies.

The night that it rained, they found a pride of lions. It was in a river bed, and they walked off into the distance. All these private game reserves work together, and tell each other about sightings so that everybody gets a chance to go and see them.

On another of the Timbavati game reserve's territory, they heard a lot of noise. The ranger went into a thick bush halfway up a hill and found where they'd killed a buffalo. We took it in turns to go in and look at them and they were all lying sort of fast asleep next to this carcass and then we went back a couple of days later to see what happened and it had only the head left.

The lions were going down to the river to drink and then coming back up and they came back up while we were there and that was really quite exciting 'cause they were more active and wandering around.

You're not protected in these jeeps (they are open with no canopy) - you think they're going to jump up but they don't, they just ignore you, it's really weird. You know, you could almost touch them if you were daft enough to put your hand out!

Anything that didn't meet your expectations?

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The only disappointment was that we never saw a leopard. And not being able to see as much as I possibly thought we would. There were some game drives where we hardly saw anything, just a few impala and a few birds and that was it.

I think it was a bad time of year to go to Timbavati because the animals found it quite easy to hide because of all the leaves on the bushes so you couldn't see them, apparently in the winter (May - August) you can see for miles and you can see animals and then sort of drive to where they are whereas we couldn't actually see them so you sort of driving around blind hoping to bump into something.

But because we were there for quite a while we managed to see quite a lot of stuff: a troop of baboons messing about in a tree, that was quite good. There was usually something on each game drive that made it worth your while.

And the one game drive we were looking for a rhino and never found it as it was right in the middle of a thick of bush, the sunset was absolutely spectacular you know it was beautiful so that made up for it.

Tips and advice?

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Have the ability to take lots of photos and just not expect to see masses of stuff all the time because it's not a zoo and the animals do what they want to do and it's just luck sometimes if you come across something that's interesting.

Make sure you take insect repellent and malaria tablets. We got eaten alive when we were in the Kruger, but Umlani in Timbavati supplied insect repellent anyway. Our contact in South Africa bought us some of this Peaceful Sleep spray and we also took the Malarone tablets the whole time that we were in the Kruger and Timbavati region because although it's not a bad area, it still is around so we didn't really want to risk it.

The most useful item in your luggage?

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We took trousers which zip off, so if you go out on a game drive first thing in the morning in Timbavati it can get a bit chilly when you set off but if the sun comes up it starts to get hotter and hotter.

And it's quite good to have layers that you can take off, and if you can zip your trousers off, your legs stay cool, that's quite handy. And the reverse - the evening ones, it can be quite hot when you set off but you need extra layers as it gets cooler, so lots of different layers really.

More on safari clothing...

How would you rate your safari overall?

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Well I don't really know what to compare it with, I've never done anything like this Kruger and Timbavati safari before. I was totally open minded. I would say 7 to 8 out of 10.

Safari Location: Kruger National Park, Timbavati Game Reserve South Africa
Duration: Four Days in December
Traveller Details: Pam Harding, UK
Rates & Availability: Plan your own safari. Make a Timbavati enquiry

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