Whether you live in South Africa, or you’re here for travel, seeing the Big 5 should definitely be on your bucket list!
When you think of going to a game reserve to go spot your favourite animals, you automatically assume that having to share your rooms with bugs is the norm. WRONG!
We have found some amazing accommodation that will ensure you not only get to see all the wildlife that is on your wishlist, but that you’ll also be staying in the most beautiful, upmarket establishments.
Raptor Retreat Game Lodge is a little slice of luxury, situated on the Balule Parsons Nature Reserve in the Mopani region. Balule Parsons Nature Reserve forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park.
At the heart of Raptor Retreat is the Main Lodge where guests can gather to either dine or catch up on their adventures. Relax with a drink on the deck or slump into one of the voluptuous leather couches. The Main Lodge features a huge deck that looks out over an open plain where herds come to graze or drink at the water hole and predators wait for an opportunity.
The accommodation at Raptor Retreat is some of the best the industry has to offer. There are two private lodges on offer: the Elephant Lodge and the Buffalo Lodge. Each air-conditioned room has high thatched ceilings and a huge, built-in king-size bed as well as a large sliding door that opens onto a private deck with double recliners. The deck is nestled in amongst the trees giving you the feeling of being right in the thick of the bush. One could expect an elephant or lion to stroll past any minute.
Slip into your own splash pool and cool off under the hot African sun whilst watching game graze nearby.
Pezulu is a small, exclusive, one of a kind, Tree House Game Lodge situated in the game rich area of the Limpopo province of South Africa, only forty minutes from the world famous Kruger National Park.
The thatched main building is entwined around a large Marula tree. It consists of a lounge, dining area, curio shop and a charming treetop bar. The magnificent rock swimming pool is the perfect place to cool off during hot summer days. After dark, dinner is served under the stars in the beautiful outdoor boma. The delicious food is typically South-African.
The Lodge comprises of eight unique thatch and reed Tree Houses, accommodating a maximum of twenty two people. Every unit is en-suite and has a private balcony where you can view herds of animals passing below, or view a giraffe eye to eye. Blending in beautifully with the African bush, solid wooden walkways lead high into the private tree houses. Each unit has been built to blend with the environment whilst maintaining an element of luxury. No nails have been knocked into the trees; rather the units have been built around the trees, resulting in huge branches (which are still growing) passing through the Tree Houses.
The lodge comprises 6 very exclusive chalets which are scattered on the mountain ridge, and offers privacy to all guests. Guests can watch the sun set in a golden display over the distant mountain peaks, from the chalet’s private viewing deck, or watch a sky of scattered clouds, suffused with shades of purple and pink as dawn approaches.
Game and ample bird-life can be viewed whilst sipping cocktails in the beautiful swimming pool, or whilst enjoying a braai with friends at the lodge’s braai-area, both overlooking the scenic bushveld environment and Waterberg Mountains.
According to Urban Dictionary, the definition of camping is: To go out in the woods with nothing but your aunt and a tooth-pick, and spend the night there.
Glamping has been described as: Glamorous camping. Satisfying your craving for the outdoors and your penchant for a good meal, nice glass of wine, and a comfortable bed.
“No stinky sleeping bags on the hard ground and freeze dried food for me. If its not a Glamping trip, count me out.”
We have found some amazing spots that ensure you will have a lot more than just your aunt and a tooth-pick…
In the foothills of the Grootberg massif, set amidst magnificent scenery and the ancient Etendeka lavas of northern Damaraland, the ten new en-suite Meru tents have been refitted with luxury mattresses and 100% cotton linen. Necessary comforts have not been overlooked with the bathroom also benefiting from a makeover, while the traditional open-air bucket shower still holds pride of place.
Here, one is reminded that we are all guests of Mother Nature. At Etendeka, wildlife has acclimatised to a precarious existence amongst the towering basalt mountains and dry mopane-shaded river courses of the Kunene Region. A strong focus is on walking activities.
Simple, fresh, wholesome meals are prepared either in solar ovens or on open fires and enjoyed under African skies.
“The feel at Etendeka is rustic; we wanted to bring back that rugged element of the traditional tented camp that most have unfortunately lost”.
Koffylaagte literally translated means “Coffee Hollow”, owes its name to its colourful history as the resting place of the early settler traders. This TGCSA 4 star graded pristine reserve, situated in the Karoo Heartland is dedicated to wildlife management and breeding programmes, and has been stripped of all remnants related to its early farming days. The area has been converted back to its magnificent fauna and flora, becoming a place to rest your mind, body and soul, just as in the days of the early settlers.
The luxuriously appointed en-suite Nyala Valley Safari Tents overlook the surrounding Nyala Valley and have private wooden viewing decks, offering uninterrupted views of the valley below. Although the Safari Tents are only 150m from the main Lodge, they blend seamlessly into the surrounding vegetation, creating a sense of absolute privacy and tranquility.
The two 12-seater open Land Rovers provide uninterrupted views of the wildlife on day- or night game drives. Guided quad bike and horseback trails ensure fun for the entire family. Alternatively, trails can be followed on foot for a more leisurely option.
The sauna and swimming pool are the popular venues for relaxing after a busy day in the veld, as is the fully licensed bar, pool table and darts board in the hunting lodge during the evenings.
If you’re one of those people who like to annoy the big cat watchers on a game drive, who will cluelessly peer in the direction your binoculars are pointing, and if your favourite accessories are your camera, a birding book, and a pair of binoculars, then make sure to add the following list of incredible birding spots to your bucket list!
Near the town of the Naboomspruit in the Limpopo province lies one of South Africa’s largest flood plains – the Nyl River flood plain. The grassland flood plain stretches over 70km and forms an area known as Nylsvley. Part of this flood plain is incorporated into the Nylsvley Nature Reserve.
The reserve is widely known for its amazing variety of bird species, claiming 370 species of which 102 are waterfowl, 58 species of which breed on the flood plain (23 of these 58 are on the Red List of threatened species). At any one time there are estimated to be approximately 80 000 birds in the area. During the flood season, the plains also become important in the breeding of large numbers of fish and frogs – the main food source of most of the bird life. The total number of bird species found on the entire flood plain is 412 which is almost 50% of the total bird species in the entire South Africa.
The reserve also plays an important role in the breeding of the Roan antelope and the Tsessebe (a rare breed of antelope). Apart from wildlife, the only plantations of wild rice in South Africa are also found here. The Nylsvley Nature Reserve also has a restaurant called the Spoonbill Restaurant which is open all day for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even just a refreshing drink.
The reserve is open 06h00 -18h00 every day of the year.
For more information on tariffs and reservations contact:
Tel: +27-15-2907336 or
If you ask any foreigner what the first thing is that comes to mind when they think of South Africa, they are likely to say wildlife.
As South Africans, we are spoilt for choice with such a huge range of wildlife. We often take this for granted and don’t quite realise how incredibly lucky we actually are! We often have troops of monkeys running through our gardens, picking the fruit off our trees and mongoose running across the roads, trying their hardest to dodge the oncoming traffic. We also get to boast about the Big 5! A short drive to one of the many game reserves situated all over South Africa will ensure you get your fair share of game viewing.
You can spot game with your naked eye, through binoculars, or through the lens of a camera. You can do a self drive, book a game drive with a ranger, go on a guided walk or even treat yourself to a hot air balloon safari. To find where you can try your hand at photographing some wildlife, check out one of the many game reserves we have listed here.
Just so you can drool a little, we have added some spectacular photos from some ridiculously talented photographers. These were taken in South Africa and neighbouring countries, such as Botswana and Namibia. If you’re not a local – prepare to be extremely jealous!
“It was Africa distilled up through six thousand feet like the strong and defined essence of a continent… The views were immensely wide – everything that you saw made for greatness and freedom, an unequaled nobility” – Karen Blixen.